MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) – Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard believes Tottenham Hotspur are a much tougher proposition since Mauricio Pochettino took over as manager.
Premier League champions City welcome the perennial ‘nearly men’ to Eastlands on Saturday with retired England international Lampard looking to add to the eight goals he scored against Tottenham during 13 years at London rivals Chelsea.
However, the 36-year-old former England international claims City’s opponents on Saturday are more formidable since former Southampton boss Pochettino became Tottenham’s head coach during the close season.
“I’ve done well against Spurs over the years and playing them was always a big game at Chelsea,” Lampard said.
“Even when I was at West Ham, Tottenham were big rivals so I’ve always seen it is a big game and something to mark on the calendar and that doesn’t change now I’m at City.”
Lampard, who revealed earlier this week he will not seek to extend his loan spell from New York City FC beyond January, was named City’s player of the month for September earlier this week. And he said he can scarcely believe how well life has gone for him at City so far.
Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, is set to be without French star Samir Nasri as he continues his recovery from a groin injury and he will also check on the fitness of midfielder Fernandinho, who has a hamstring problem.
Pochettino has dismissed concerns Spurs could be carrying the scars of two heavy defeats by City last season. Spurs were beaten 6-0 in the corresponding fixture last while the 5-1 home loss was no less embarrassing.
Tottenham have struggled for consistency in during the current campaign but they head to Manchester unbeaten away from home this season and boosted by the victory over Southampton last time out.