Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Apoel Nicosia at Wembley Stadium in London, on December 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK
Mauricio Pochettino is relishing the challenge of taking on runaway Premier League leaders, Manchester City, describing Pep Guardiola’s side as “one of the best teams in Europe”.
A record run of 15 top-flight wins on the bounce has moved City 11 points clear at the summit, with Spurs a further seven behind.The two sides meet in Manchester today and Pochettino is eager to test himself against the division’s pacesetters.
“We are going to enjoy it, because it’s a fantastic challenge to play against Manchester City,” he said.“We are going to play with this season’s, or this year’s best team in England and one of the best teams in Europe.
“I’m so excited to play because I love to play against teams, against managers like Guardiola – they are the best.“I’m so positive, so motivated, so happy that we are going to play a team at their best.”
Spurs followed up last weekend’s 5-1 thrashing of Stoke City with a 2-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.Both of those matches were at Wembley, but Pochettino’s side have not won on the road in the league since September.
However, Guardiola has insisted his team’s stunning start to the Premier League campaign is an exception to the norm and cannot be sustained.His side set a new English league record of 15 consecutive victories in Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Swansea City, a result that left them 11 points clear of second-place Manchester United.
It was the latest in a string of achievements already racked up by Guardiola’s side, with a visit from Tottenham today their next obstacle to remaining unbeaten in the league.
But the City boss is adamant they will not be able to match Arsenal’s famous ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04.“That is not going to happen,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference.“That belongs to Arsene Wenger and his amazing Arsenal in 2004. We are going to lose games.
“Today is completely different with the intensity and a lot of games. Now, [our run] is an exception. It is not normal what we have done.“We are so happy and we are going to fight to maintain it as long as possible. But people, teams lose games and that is going to happen.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola revealed captain Vincent Kompany was unlikely to be fit to face Spurs at Etihad Stadium.The defender is closing in on a return after missing the Huddersfield clash, but is likely to be handled with caution.
“He is much better. It is a little, little problem,” Guardiola said.“I do not know if tomorrow he will be fit but hopefully in the next days, in the next fixtures, he will be ready.”