MAURICIO Pochettino’s claim that the Europa League would “kill” Saints is backed up by this weekend’s opponents Tottenham.
The Saints boss recently admitted that he was not a fan of the secondary European club competition due to it clogging up a Premier League fixture list.
Pochettino, pictured below, said the tournament can have a negative effect on a club’s league performance – and Tottenham are a perfect example of that.
The north Londoners have a dreadful Premier League record in games following a Europa League game this season.
Saints travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday, the game having been moved back 24 hours as Tottenham were in Europa action in Benfica last night.
And they will be hoping that Tottenham’s European exertions will once again have a negative impact on their form on Sunday.
Pochettino’s side have a strong away record – with a club Premier League record six wins already – and there is plenty of reason for supporters to feel optimistic of another success.
That is because it has been in the immediate aftermath of Tottenham’s trips to the continent that they have been most vulnerable this season.
Of their nine Premier League defeats, six have come in their first match after returning from Europa League action.
Spurs’ record in those games makes for dismal reading.
In 11 matches, eight of which have been at home, they have won only four times – all by a score of 1-0.
They have failed to score in six, while they have managed more than a single strike just once, in a 2-2 home draw with Manchester United.
The six goals they have scored is dwarfed by the 14 they have conceded in that spell.
It is when analysing Tottenham’s points-per-game tally that the contrast in form becomes most stark.
In their 11 games immediately following a Europa League match, Spurs have averaged 1.18 points.
In their other 19 Premier League matches this season, the total stands at 2.11.
Pochettino said last month, when asked about the club’s European ambitions: “In my opinion the Europa League is not an attractive competition.
“I think it is a competition that kills you in the sense that there are a lot of mid-table teams that put a lot of effort into the Europa League and then are not able to do anything in the league.”
The teams who finish fifth and sixth in the Premier League this season will qualify for next season’s Europa League.
The FA Cup winners will also qualify. If Arsenal win the Cup and claim a top-four place, the FA Cup runners-up will qualify for the Europa League instead.