3 November 2023

Poch On Spurs Return: 'A Special But Strange Moment'  (Sky Sports)

Mauricio PochettinoChelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino insists returning to former club Tottenham will be a special but strange moment when the two teams clash on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports.

Pochettino enjoyed five full seasons in charge of Spurs between 2014 and 2019 but is poised to return for the first time in four years as manager of one of their fiercest rivals.

The Argentine helped transform the north London side into perennial top-four contenders, leading them to a second-placed Premier League finish in 2017, while also guiding them to their first Champions League final in 2019 when they finished runners-up.

Spurs and Pochettino never bounced back from that loss and he was sacked in November 2019, eventually joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 before taking over Chelsea last July.

"It's special to come back after four years to a place we have amazing memories," Pochettino said.

"We created amazing memories together. I think it's special, I'm not going to lie."

'We had amazing memories at Spurs'

Pochettino, who believes Tottenham are genuine Premier League title contenders this term, is uncertain how he will be greeted by home supporters on Monday evening.

Speaking about the reception he expects, the 51-year-old continued: "I'm not going to say nothing at the moment because until Monday we cannot guess what is going to happen then.

"The most important thing is people know that we cannot forget all that we lived together, amazing memories there.

"I am going to respect the people, however they are going to express, but it's not going to change my emotion, my view, my feelings about a club that I think we spend an unbelievable journey with."

Could Poch have returned to Spurs?

Spurs have had four permanent managers since Pochettino's departure and when asked if the Argentine had ever thought of returning to the north London club, he said it was never on the cards.

"After we finished our relationship with Paris Saint Germain (in July 2022), we wanted to be one year away from football. And then the offer from Chelsea arrived," he added.

"Clubs I'll never manage are Arsenal, because I consider them the worst enemy of Tottenham, and Barcelona because of Espanyol [his former club].

"It's strange to come back because always the feeling after four years is it's going to be a happy day for me. But that is life and we need to move on, we are professional but at the same time we are human."

Poch: Spurs are title contenders

While Chelsea are languishing in mid-table 10 games into the campaign, unbeaten Tottenham top the table under Ange Postecoglou.

Pochettino feels the north London side are capable of remaining in that position and ending the season as champions.

"Yes, I think so," he said.

"Ange and the coaching staff, they are doing a fantastic job and then of course very good players, very good team. You can feel they can be a contender.

"Of course it's early in the season but they are showing the quality to be contenders."

Ange: Poch was unbelievable at Spurs - but he won't get guard of honour

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou:

"It's undoubted that he had an unbelievable impact on this football club. All of us in our roles, our ultimate goal and ambition is to, whatever doors we go through, have an impact.

"He's had an undeniable impact on this football club. His time here, he almost took the club to the ultimate sun of the Champions League and got close to the league, so his work is unquestioned.

"Everyone I speak to around here, the people still here who worked with him, can't speak highly enough of him as a person and a manager.

"I doubt there would be anything but respect for Mauricio from anyone at this football club, supporters or people associated with it.

"That doesn't mean he's going to get a guard of honour on Monday night, because we want to win the game. I don't think he expects that.

"His tenure and impact here is undeniable and will stand in the test of time, so when people look back at Mauricio's time here as a manager, they will only look upon it with respect and fondness."

Merson says: I'll be shocked if Spurs beat Chelsea

Sky Sports' Paul Merson:

"Chelsea prefer to play against teams who come to have a go. Those that come to Stamford Bridge and sit back, they find it a struggle.

"Teams come and play with 10 behind the ball. I'm more confident of going to Tottenham on Monday than I am of seeing them play Brentford at home.

"I know Tottenham are going to have a go. I know Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson can cause problems with their pace on the counter.

"But when they face teams who don't give them any space, they've only got Cole Palmer who can break anybody down. He was outstanding the other day [against Brentford].

"He was like the Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal for Chelsea, the amount of opportunities he made. In the second half, he ran out of ideas.

"I'm going on Monday and I'd be shocked if Chelsea lose. The full-backs will have a tough night but this is the only time in a long, long time - believe me - that Tottenham fans will be turning up expecting to beat Chelsea.

"The first time in a long time. Every time you'd go to White Hart Lane, they thought they'd get beat. But it's a different pressure now.

"Now, Tottenham have got to come out and they've got to have a go."

Jones Knows prediction...

I'm with Tottenham here - with quite a bit of confidence too with the 11/10 with Sky Bet on offer.

Chelsea had been receiving some plaudits for their recent performances and while their midfield three is a threesome to be feared, problems persist in turning chances into goals.

There is no hiding away from the data that shows they have underperformed their expected goals return by 19 goals in 2023, missing 57 big chances along the way which in all makes their conversion rate of 7.08 per cent the worst of any Premier League side.

Yes, that's including Luton, Everton and Sheffield United. They've also failed to score in 14 Premier League games in 2023 - the most of any team.

When you factor all those attacking woes in and compare it to the ruthlessness, confidence and gusto on show in the Tottenham attacking line, it makes the 11/10 for Tottenham to score more goals than Chelsea (in other words win the football match) look rather generous.