LONDON – Mauricio Pochettino says playing at Wembley is hurting Tottenham’s Premier League title chances as their opponents are doubly motivated to perform at the national stadium.
Stuttering Spurs – who have slipped out of the title reckoning – play Stoke at their temporary home on Saturday before hosting Brighton next Wednesday, and they cannot afford to lose further ground in the race for the top four.
But Pochettino’s men have proven to be vulnerable at Wembley this season – taking only 12 points from a possible 21 there in the Premier League, a record that has included draws with Burnley, Swansea and West Brom.
“To play again in your home always is much better than to play how we are playing now,” Pochettino said. “It is so important how the opponent sees Wembley – that it is fantastic to play at Wembley.
“It is not to blame Wembley or an excuse. But when opponents come to Wembley to play, it is a historic day. For many clubs it is difficult to play at Wembley, but today it is easy because you come in the Premier League.
“That is a massive motivation for the opponent. That is an extra charge for us because not only are you competing with the opponent, but with their massive motivation too.
“The new stadium (from next season) will help the club a lot. We cannot wait to play there and make it our home and be strong there. What we are working on we are going to capitalise on in the next few years for sure.”
Tottenham have managed only one league victory from their past six matches, a slump that has left them 18 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City and four adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool.
A 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia at Wembley in the Champions League on Wednesday, however, could help turn the tide and Pochettino believes all the top teams will endure dips this season.
Pochettino was also asked about the possibility of bringing Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale back to Spurs in the future.
“I saw him in Madrid when we played there,” Pochettino said.
“Always he keeps in contact with the people here that he worked with in the past. But then I don’t know because I don’t have a close relationship with him or his people.
“Of course he is a fantastic player, and you never know in football what can happen.”
Defender Davinson Sanchez is suspended for the visit of Stoke following his red card against Watford last weekend.
Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama remain out with injuries.