Pochettino: Fixture congestion ‘not a big issue’

Ian Watson

Mauricio Pochettino will not be using fixture congestion as an excuse if his Tottenham side suffer next week.

Spurs host managerless Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League on Monday night before a vital Europa League clash with Anderlecht on Thursday – with the small matter on a north London derby at Arsenal next Sunday.

Having won 5-1 at Bournemouth last time out, Spurs remain unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season but that record could come under threat with such a tough run ahead.

A similar run of games last year – which saw Tottenham face West Ham in the league and Fiorentina in the Europa League before the Capital One Cup final defeat to Chelsea all in the space of a week – was labelled by Pochettino as “unfair”.

But now the Spurs head coach is ready to accept such a hectic week and has called on his players to dig deep during the period.

“I don’t like to complain about this,” he said when asked about playing three games in seven days.

“At the beginning of the season, in the meetings with all the team, we accept the rules in football. One side you have the sport, the other is the commercial side. We need to mix both. We cannot complain now.

“We know the rules and the business. We need to accept it. We need to be ready and work hard, to try to avoid the problem that play every two days. It’s not a big issue. We are ready to compete on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.”

Tottenham go into their busy week buoyed by Harry Kane‘s timely return to form.

The England striker struck a hat-trick in the 5-1 success at Bournemouth, having scored just once prior to the trip to the south coast last Sunday.

And Pochettino believes a barren spell could be the making of Kane, who had been enjoying a year of consistent goalscoring since first breaking into the side on a regular basis.

“It was a period that was new for him,” the Argentinian said.

“You know when you are in floodlights, when you score the goals, all is good, all is nice, it’s sunshine.

“When you stop to score, all is dark. You need to find your balance. This is very important. Because when all is good, you are like in a bubble. But when this bubble bursts, when the reality is different, this is when you can learn, you can understand.

“This is the most important period for Harry to learn. I think it was great to discover another (part of) football or different things in football.”

Kane’s hat-trick came despite the fact he was nursing a slight knee problem picked up in the recent draw with Liverpool – but Pochettino says his main frontman is now raring to go against Villa – the side he scored his first Premier League goal against less than 12 months ago.

“He’s fit. It was good. He had one week clear,” he said.

“He had a problem in the last action against Liverpool. For that he was on the bench in Anderlecht. We have three sessions ahead before the game on Monday. He’s ready to compete on Monday.”