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Pochettino ahead of North London derby: I can’t say we’re a title contender

Reuters/Paul Childs

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has played down his side’s Premier League title chances ahead of the north London derby at Arsenal on Sunday, despite his side rising to third in the standings.

Pochettino’s side impressed last weekend, inflicting a first defeat of the season on Chelsea with a 3-1 win at Wembley, which took them above the Blues in the league table, five points off leaders Manchester City.

Nevertheless, Spurs were last English champions in 1961 but have not finished lower than third in the Premier League in the last three seasons.

“I can’t say we’re a title contender. I think Manchester City is in a different level. Clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, (Manchester) United and Arsenal make a bigger investment to us, a different level,” the Argentine told at the news conference on Friday.

“They are the contenders, more than us. But we’re there. If we’re capable in the last few months of the season to be in a good position in the table we’re going to try.”

Sunday’s game at the Emirates will see Pochettino once again lock horns with Arsenal’s coach Unai Emery. The two faced each other seven times from 2009 to 2012 when the Argentine was coaching Espanyol and Emery was in charge of Valencia.

Since succeeding Arsene Wenger, Emery has led Arsenal to fifth in the table with eight wins out of 13 league matches.

“I have a very good relationship with Unai, he is a great manager, he’s doing a fantastic job there,” said Pochettino. “Of course Arsenal have always been a good team with very good players and unbelievable management from one of the greatest managers ever.

“Now it is a completely different culture with a manager who is Spanish. It will be tough because they are doing a good job from the beginning of the season and signed very good players too.”

Spurs may be without Erik Lamela as he is being assessed after injuring his ankle in the 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Right back Kieran Trippier is close to return from a groin injury while midfielders Victor Wanyama (knee), Mousa Dembele (ankle) and defender Davinson Sanchez (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.

REUTERS/Reporting by Christian Radnedge, editing by Toby Davis

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