Mauricio Pochettino helped Tottenham finish second in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup – but the Argentine is now in charge of their rivals Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino has played down Chelsea’s rivalry with Tottenham ahead of Monday’s clash – leaving Blues fans bemused.

Pochettino was appointed by Chelsea in July, despite spending five-and-a-half years in charge of rivals Tottenham. The Argentine’s decision to cross the divide angered many Spurs fans, having led the north London club to the 2019 Champions League final.

Monday’s game is the first time Chelsea have played at Tottenham since Pochettino’s controversial appointment. He’s expected to receive a rough reception from Spurs fans but doesn’t believe the rivalry between the two clubs is as bitter as claimed.

Pochettino thinks the conflict between Arsenal and Tottenham is much bigger, insisting he would never manage the Gunners. His comments haven’t gone down well with Chelsea fans on social media, as many of them view Spurs as their biggest rivals.

Pochettino was bombarded with questions about his return to Spurs during his press conference on Friday. He said: “You say the clubs I would never manage is Arsenal because I consider them the worst enemy for Tottenham. And Barcelona because of Espanyol.

“Now it is strange to come back. The feeling after four years. It is going to be for me a happy day. But you know, that is life and we need to move on. We are professionals in football and at the same time we are human and we have personal feelings.”

Pochettino’s comments led to an immediate backlash on social media. One claimed he was “digging his own grave”, while another wrote on X: “That was very, very worrying and essentially clarifies what we all know deep down – his love for them.”

Victory on Monday would be a huge boost to Pochettino’s popularity at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea failed to beat Spurs last season, with Oliver Skipp and Harry Kane scoring on their last visit to Tottenham.

Spurs fans have also reiterated their anger towards Pochettino. One wrote on X: “Poch deserves the loudest boos imaginable on Monday. How can you have your name sung so passionately during the final ceremony at the Lane (Tottenham’s former stadium) and go on to join a club who shouts ‘we hate Tottenham’ before every single home game.”

Pochettino was very complementary about Tottenham and admits it will be “really special” to return to his former club because “we have amazing memories together”. He also insists the reception he receives on Monday won’t change his “emotions”.

Pochettino was asked about the possibility of being booed. He replied: “I’m not going to say anything at the moment because until Monday we cannot guess. The most important is people know we cannot forget what we lived together.

“Amazing memories and then I’m going to respect the people, how they’re going to express. It won’t change my emotions, my view, my feelings about a club where we spent an unbelievable journey.”

Pochettino also described Tottenham as title candidates. Spurs have made a superb start to the season under new manager Ange Postecoglou, sitting two points clear of Arsenal and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea, meanwhile, are 11th.

“Ange and the other coaches, they are doing a fantastic job,” explained Pochettino. “Very good players, very good team and you can feel they can be a contender. It is early in the season, but they are showing the quality to be a contender.”

Pochettino was also asked whether playing against Tottenham will be like seeing an ex-girlfriend. He laughed: “Goodness! It’s difficult because nearly 32 years with my wife and I don’t know if I remember or even if I had girlfriend before my wife!”

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