Poyet - Chelsea clash is ‘massive’ for Tottenham’s season

FORMER Spurs and Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet believes Sunday’s showdown between the two clubs could have a huge impact on Tottenham’s season, writes Andy Greeves.

Poyet, nicknamed ‘Radio’ during his playing days due to his relentless energy and penchant for talking football, made 80 appearances for Tottenham between 2001 and 2004, after more than 100 for the Stamford Bridge side.

Since retiring from playing in 2006, the Uruguayan has lost none of his fondness for talking about the game, and the upcoming meeting of his former sides has the Brighton & Hove Albion manager particularly excited.

“The game will be fascinating encounter and one which could have massive implications on both team’s seasons,” says Poyet. “Chelsea started the campaign like a house on fire, but have struggled in recent weeks without stars like John Terry and Frank Lampard.

“I think people have really overlooked the absence of these players, which is unfair. Chelsea will return to form soon, there’s no doubt about that, especially with JT [John Terry] back to captain them.

“Tottenham meanwhile found it a little bit difficult at the start of the season to juggle their Champions League and Premier League commitments. Now though, they are flying and I can’t see this being anything other than a great match.

“I watched Spurs in a few recent games against Arsenal and Liverpool and they were outstanding. They are playing some great football.”

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Poyet is quick to point to the impact of the two managers in making Tottenham and Chelsea amongst the most watchable sides in the Premier League .

“Managers must create an atmosphere at a club for players to perform at their best,” he adds. “In both cases, Ancelotti and Redknapp have done superbly well.

“During Harry Redknapp’s managerial career, you get the sense that he was always bound for a big club that could challenge at the top end of the Premier League”.

When Poyet signed for Tottenham from Chelsea in 2001, the Lilywhites hadn’t beaten the Blues for nearly 12 years, a run which finally fell when Glenn Hoddle’s Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-1 in the 2002 League Cup semis.

“I genuinely think it started to become a psychological issue for the players. It’s as if they had a mental block playing Chelsea. After we [Tottenham] beat them in 2002, it made a profound difference to the fixture, which has been very equal of late.”

The last three seasons have seen three Tottenham wins against Chelsea in all competitions. Poyet is predicting a close encounter at White Hart Lane, with a “high scoring draw” on the cards.