Pochettino: Treating Burnley vs. Spurs match as if it's a final
Mauricio Pochettino has urged his Tottenham players to view Saturday's trip to Burnley as a decisive day in the title race.
Spurs can move within two points of leaders Manchester City and Liverpool in the early kick-off at Turf Moor, on a weekend when Jurgen Klopp's Reds visit Manchester United. Pep Guardiala's City side does not have a league fixture but will contest the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday (Watch on ESPN+ in the U.S. at 11.30 a.m. ET).
"Could this be a massive weekend? It could be, yes," said Pochettino. "The focus for us has been to translate [to the players] that it's like a final for us at Burnley. It's going to be key in the future of the competition in the Premier League. It's a massive three points.
"If we're capable of winning the three points, it's going to be a massive boost to see us close to them [Liverpool and Man City]. We'll see what happens with the top four too. We need to match Burnley in aggression and motivation in the early kick-off.
"After a few years being there in the top four I think no-one talked too much about us [as title contenders]. But we're there. If we're capable of believing that we can push at the last moment and keep pushing and winning games, maybe we can surprise everyone.
"We need to believe that the three points against Burnley will be decisive. If we don't think in this way and we go there thinking, 'OK, it's Burnley. The important game is Chelsea or Arsenal after' then I think we're going to struggle and then we're going to regret it.
"That's why the focus has been to translate that Saturday is the most important game in the period we have ahead.
"I think it's going to be easy to motivate the players. But they don't need to be motivated against Chelsea or Arsenal or Dortmund in the Champions League. In this game, after 10 days where we didn't compete, to be focused is the most important thing, and to concentrate."
Pochettino is taking his own advice and isn't allowing himself to be distracted by off-field issues. Fernando Llorente is making a case for a contract extension, having provided three goals and three assists in his last six matches. The Spaniard's two-year deal with Spurs expires this summer but, when Pochettino was asked whether his stay might be prolonged, the Argentinian said: "In this period it's difficult to talk because I think we must be focused.
"If his agent and the club are talking we will see, like all the players, what happens at the end of the season. But I will not talk about this. It's not going to help anyone."