Going into a massive rivalry game on the back of one win in nine games is certainly far beyond ideal. Add in Tuesday's Champions League elimination and the fact that Spurs have never beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League — their last win here coming in 1990, two years before the restructuring of England's top division — and it's only understandable that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is keeping expectations on the low-low and keeping the focus firmly on the challenge of the occasion.
"[Spurs' futile record] must be a motivation for us, it must be a very good challenge. It's a big motivation for me personally and must be for the players too."
"It's a good challenge for us to go and play them at the moment. They are in very good form. They have a great manager that I know very well and they have great players too. It's an advantage not being involved in European competition or the cups now. They have time to train and develop their philosophy. They are, not only in England but in Europe, the team most in form today."
That said, the only way is up for Spurs, which, combined with their tenacious, if slightly under-strength defense will make beating them anything but an easy task. Pochettino confirmed that Toby Alderweireld will miss Saturday's match and that he'll be without a recognized left back as both Danny Rose (suspended) and Ben Davies (injured) will be unavailable.
Speaking of tenacious defense, this will be the first meeting of the two sides since last season's Battle of the Bridge, which not only saw Eden Hazard win the league for Leicester City but both Chelsea and Spurs cop record fines alongside a six-match ban to Mous(s)a Dembélé for eye-gouging Diego Costa. Emotions will perhaps be on a slightly lower boil this time around, though one gets the feeling that Pochettino isn't exactly discouraging this sort of strategy despite outwardly playing down last season's incident.
"That's in the past. From our side, all is forgotten. That was a completely different period last season, for different reasons. We arrived in a moment that was difficult to manage — the emotion, that was normal, we are human."
"The start to the game — 2-0 to us, the first 45 minutes — was perfect. They came back, got two goals we lost a little bit our heads, that's normal in football. All is different, we need to go there and believe we can win. They are in very good form. We need to try to play better than them, to try to win the game."
Gotta love it when the aggressor claims "all is forgotten", right? Oh, okay, in that case then...
Pochettino also played down the recent report that Spurs have objected to Chelsea assistant coach continuing in his role as Gareth Southgate's assistant, claiming that he knows nothing about anything and that he's friends with everybody and it's down to the FA, which clearly isn't the case but whatever. Obviously Holland would have to be offered the job in the first place (and there are reports out there that Southgate would prefer him to join full-time), but it's not the FA who are objecting to a dual role, but rather Spurs. At least according to the reports.
"No, after Gareth Southgate got the job in the national team, we had some meetings with Steve Holland and we talked a lot about what happened last season."
"After that, we created a very good relationship. It's not important for me and Tottenham. It's more a decision of the FA. But I don't know where that news started. I can say to you we have a very good relationship in that. We have some friends -- him with some staff from Tottenham. Nothing to say about that, it's all about his decision and the FA's. All decisions the FA take are good for us."
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: ESPN
Things are starting to build up nicely for Saturday's juicy suppertime treat.