Pochettino remains focused on Watford

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino is adamant Tottenham must focus solely on today's trip to Watford rather than the higher-profile meeting with Premier League leaders Chelsea that follows.

Wednesday's London derby showdown with Chelsea at White Hart Lane will be eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans.

But Tottenham boss Pochettino insists victory over Chelsea would not be half as sweet if it followed a points-dropping performance at Vicarage Road.

"The most important game is Watford," he said. "It's important to try to reduce the gap to the top four... Chelsea have a very big gap now to second and 10 points to us (before yesterday's games) but it's not decisive. We need to believe, we're fighting to reduce the gap and we have a very good opportunity when we play them."

Tottenham boasted the meanest defence in the Premier League over the calendar year, conceding just 33 goals in 2016. But Pochettino may play three at the back - a formation he first employed against Chelsea last season.

He has to adjust his backline as central defender Jan Vertonghen and right-back Kyle Walker are suspended for a match each after picking up their fifth bookings of the season in Wednesday's 4-1 win at Southampton.

Miguel Britos is suspended for Watford while Daryl Janmaat, Valon Behrami, and Ben Watson, are all expected to miss the game through injury. Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri took a piece of paper with his unavailable players written down to his press conference to emphasise how desperate his team selection is.

"We need a priest to come," he joked. "It is very important and will allow me to evaluate players who have not played so much. It will help me understand what players I have."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline 'Pochettino remains focused on Watford'. Print Edition | Subscribe