City are beatable, insists Pochettino

Despite fears of a bad Wembley pitch, Manchester City will not hold back any players, including Kevin de Bruyne, who made only his first start in midweek after two months out injured.
Despite fears of a bad Wembley pitch, Manchester City will not hold back any players, including Kevin de Bruyne, who made only his first start in midweek after two months out injured.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • No summer signings, delays for new stadium and never-ending speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

All these distractions have hardly affected Mauricio Pochettino as he went about his job in a professional manner, guiding Tottenham Hotspur to their best Premier League start with 21 points from their opening nine games.

The London side are only two points behind Manchester City and victory at Wembley tonight (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) will see them go above the defending champions in the table.

Spurs recorded three successive league wins against City in 2015 and 2016 but were beaten twice by Pep Guardiola's side last season.

Pochettino thinks that it is possible to beat free-scoring City.

"I think, for me, they are the best team today in England," said the Argentinian. "You can win or lose, but we're excited to face them.

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"In football, nothing is impossible. I don't believe that in football, you can find something that is impossible to do, but it will be difficult of course because we need to play well, perform at our best and have a bit of luck to win the game."

City manager Guardiola, meanwhile, revealed that Tottenham are one of his favourite teams.

"I learn when I watch them," he said. "They've a young team, a good goalkeeper and good strikers."

The Wembley clash will take place just 24 hours after the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has confirmed that the club will not play at their new stadium until next year because of "contractors missing deadlines and possible future unforeseen issues".

Pochettino admitted that he was not concerned the NFL game could harm their chances of beating City.

"Maybe it's good for us," he said. "It wasn't the plan for us to play in this period at Wembley, but we have to accept the reality. We cannot change that and now we have to hope the weather will be good and not kill the pitch."

Guardiola insists he will not hold back any players, including Kevin de Bruyne, who made only his first start in midweek after two months out injured with a knee problem.

Pochettino also brushed aside reports linking him with Real, who faced Barcelona in the LaLiga Clasico this morning (Singapore time).

With Julen Lopetegui facing a battle to keep his job, reports in Spain suggest that Real are hoping to tempt Pochettino to change his mind. But the Spurs boss said: "I don't have social media so I don't receive much information.

"That's why my head, my face, I look younger than I am. Stuff like that happens in football. You can't change anything."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2018, with the headline 'City are beatable, insists Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe