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London – Jose Mourinho has told his Chelsea stars not to expect an easy ride against Tottenham on Saturday despite the north London club's woeful record at Stamford Bridge.
With title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City in FA Cup action this weekend, Mourinho's team will open up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League if they beat Tim Sherwood's Spurs.
That outcome looks a decent bet if history is any guide as it is 24 years since Tottenham left Stamford Bridge with three points thanks to Gary Lineker's winner in February 1990.
Mourinho's men are unbeaten in 13 league matches, winning 10 and drawing three, but in Tottenham they face a team with designs on a Champions League place and the Blues boss is determined to ensure his players don't get complacent.
“Maybe it is a coincidence because Tottenham are always a good team, always a difficult opponent,” Mourinho said.
“I don't remember in my previous years having an easy match against Tottenham. We want to try to win and I believe they want to try the same. We want our top-four position safe.
“And at the moment the biggest threat for that top-four position is Tottenham, because they are fifth and they are the closest team to the top four.
“If we can get a result against them we can say that, almost for sure, our objective of finishing in the top four is in a very good direction.”
Spurs bounced back from a defeat at Norwich by winning 1-0 at home to Cardiff last Sunday and could close to within a point of the top four if they prevail at Stamford Bridge.
Sherwood believes that his side's status as underdogs could work in their favour.
“Games against Chelsea at the Bridge, Arsenal at the Emirates and Liverpool at Anfield, perhaps the pressure's off us a little bit and we can cause a surprise,” he said.
“We're looking to mess up as many other people's seasons as we can, and enhance ours at the same time.”
Another team looking to capitalise on the inactivity of teams above them are Manchester United, who could draw level on points with sixth-place Everton if they win at West Bromwich Albion.
David Moyes' side have not played since slumping to a 2-0 loss at Olympiakos in the first leg of their Champions League last-16
tie on February 25 and begin the weekend 12 points below the top four.
United's last trip to The Hawthorns was for Alex Ferguson's final game as manager Ä a madcap 5-5 draw on the final day of last season Ä but while that sunny May day now seems a distant memory amid the club's current struggles, record signing Juan Mata says that there is plenty still to play for.
“A thrilling month is starting with five Premier League games against important rivals such as Liverpool and Manchester City,” the Spanish midfielder wrote on his personal blog this week.
“We do know it is a crucial month to climb up positions on the league table and we are going to give our best to try and win every single match.”
Saturday's truncated programme also features a potentially pivotal game at the foot of the table, with second-bottom Cardiff hosting bottom club Fulham.
In FA Cup quarter-final action, Arsenal host Everton looking to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2009.
The Gunners' title challenge suffered a setback with a 1-0
defeat at Stoke last weekend, leaving the Cup as their best hope of ending a nine-year trophy drought.
Premier League fixtures
Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated)
Cardiff v Fulham, Chelsea v Tottenham (1730GMT), Crystal Palace v Southampton, Norwich v Stoke, West Brom v Manchester United (1245GMT)
FA Cup quarter-final fixture
Arsenal v Everton – Sapa-AFP