August 20, 2017 / 6:40 PM / 10 months ago

Soccer: Wembley not to blame for defeat, says Spurs manager

LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to blame the club’s Wembley hoodoo for their 2-1 Premier League defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea - London, Britain - August 20, 2017 Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Spurs had hoped to mark a new era at their temporary home by turning it into the sort of fortress they had constructed at White Hart Lane, where they last lost a league game in May 2015.

Instead they extended the poor form that always dogged them at the national stadium where they have won just two of their past 11 games, a record far inferior to Chelsea who have now won nine in 11.

Pochettino, though, said he was “only disappointed and not frustrated or upset by the defeat” in a game which Spurs dominated.

“The Wembley effect is not the reason we lost the game,” he said.

“It is not fair to blame a stadium that is one of the best places to play football in the world.”

Pochettino batted away suggestions that his players were affected by the size of the pitch, which is eight percent bigger than their old home which is being replaced by a new, 61,000-seater stadium due to open for the 2018-2019 season.

“If you love football you know that Wembley is not the problem. We didn’t lose because of the pitch but because they were more clinical in front of goal than us,” Pochettino said.

“What is more important was the performance which I am happy with.”

On another day, Harry Kane would have buried any number of the chances he spurned on Sunday and Christian Eriksen also went close. But, for all their effort and possession, Spurs could not break down a battling Chelsea side.

“Chelsea set out to contain us and I am happy to lose in that way,” Pochettino said.

Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon

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