'Spurs have plan to tackle Chelsea'

Tottenham's Vertonghen says hosts have 'secret' weapons to stop Blues' record run

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has a plan to halt Chelsea's winning run during their Premier League clash today, defender Jan Vertonghen has said.

Since switching to a 3-4-3 system after suffering consecutive defeats by Liverpool and Arsenal in September, Antonio Conte's Chelsea have gone on a record-equalling run of 13 consecutive wins.

Pochettino is set to become the first manager to have a second crack at Chelsea's winning run following his side's 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge in November.

"The gaffer spends a lot of time analysing them. He prepares for the game and the way we should play and in what shape," Vertonghen told British media. "We see some videos and all these tactical things - but that's our secret."

He also believes the improved depth in squad has allowed the manager to name competitive starting lineups even when key players like Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld were sidelined with injuries earlier this season.


Tottenham striker Harry Kane will be looking to shoot down leaders Chelsea today. He has three goals from his last two Premier League games. PHOTO: REUTERS

"It's the strongest since I've been here," said Vertonghen, a Hotspur since 2012.

"We can play different systems. Harry Kane has been out. Toby (Alderweireld) has been out, it's a lot of important players we've missed. But the guys that have played for them have done brilliantly."

Spurs, who are unbeaten at White Hart Lane in their nine league games this season, are sitting fifth in the table and trail leaders Chelsea by 10 points.

Dele Alli is the Premier League's in-form midfielder, having scored five goals in his last three games, and he will not be satisfied with anything but victory against Chelsea.

"We're in good form and we've got good confidence," the England midfielder told the Spurs website.

"It's a massive game for us and it's important that we win it."

Conte's Chelsea have not failed to win since their 3-0 loss at Arsenal on Sept 24.

They racked up win No. 13 by overcoming Stoke City 4-2 on New Year's Eve, equalling Arsenal's 2002 record for the most consecutive wins within the same Premier League campaign.

Victory at Spurs will equal Arsenal's overall record of 14 successive wins - set over two seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

"It's another challenge, another type of football to face (from Stoke) because Tottenham like to play from the back. They like to put a lot of pressure on when you are in possession," Conte said. "We have to prepare very well because this game for sure will be very, very tough for us, but also for them. For sure (this match) is the biggest test.

"Tottenham are better than last season. They have a good manager who is working very well... For sure we will see a good game."

Both Conte and Pochettino could elect to rotate their starting XIs.

Pedro Rodriguez returns from suspension for Chelsea and will hope to regain his place from Willian, while Cesc Fabregas' position is under threat from the more defensively-minded Nemanja Matic.

Spurs will welcome back first-choice defenders Kyle Walker and Vertonghen, both of whom missed the trip to Watford through suspensions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline ''Spurs have plan to tackle Chelsea''. Print Edition | Subscribe