London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham Hotspur are already the “champions” of transfer rumours, but he says nothing will distract his side in their pursuit of the Premier League title.

Right-back Kyle Walker is the latest member of Spurs’ talented squad to be linked with a move away from White Hart Lane, following reports of a row with manager Pochettino.

Spurs can cut Chelsea’s lead to one point if they win at West Ham United on Friday and Pochettino says neither Walker nor any of his team-mates have been rattled by transfer speculation.

“All 21 players are focused to help achieve the things we want to achieve,” Pochettino told Thursday’s pre-match press conference at Spurs’ Enfield training base in north London.

“I am so calm. The players are calm. They know what happens inside.

“It’s important that the fans know that the players are calm and we will see at the end of the season whether the rumours are true or not.”

Walker was overlooked for Spurs’ last two games, with Kieran Trippier lining up in the victories over Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

Pochettino said it was simply a matter of “rotation” and said he would not make any decisions on transfers until the end of the campaign.

“No decision until the end of the season about anything,” said the Argentine. “I accept the business, but please, I think our fans don’t care.

“It’s true that Tottenham are a trending topic in all the rumours. We are champions. In the last two seasons (for rumours), we are more than first.”

Spurs will be seeking a 10th successive victory when they travel east to face West Ham, which would turn up the heat on Chelsea ahead of their home game against Middlesbrough on Monday.

The Emirates Stadium will stage a pivotal contest in the race for Champions League qualification on Sunday when sixth-place Arsenal host fifth-place Manchester United.

Arsenal trail United by five points, but have a game in hand.

The game falls between the two legs of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo and manager Jose Mourinho says he will have no option but to rest several first-team players.

– Coutinho optimistic –

“We focus on our performance. I don’t know what Manchester United will do,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side lost 2-0 at north London rivals Spurs last weekend.

“We know anyway that they have a massive squad with quality players. Only a top-level performance will get us the win we want. We have no choice. We have to beat them.”

With Arsenal and United guaranteed to take points from each other, Liverpool and Manchester City have opportunities to consolidate their places in the top four.

Third-place Liverpool host Southampton on Sunday, with fourth-place City — who sit a point above United — hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho hobbled off with a dead leg during Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Watford on Monday, but he is hopeful about his chances of facing Southampton.

“The injury is much better,” the Brazilian told the Liverpool website.

“It was a hard tackle and what happened was a dead leg. It caused a lot of pain in the area I was hit, but the pain has reduced now.”

Sunderland succumbed to relegation last weekend and Middlesbrough will join them in the Championship if Hull City win at home to Sunderland and they fail to win at Chelsea.

Two points clear of third-bottom Swansea City, Hull can take a big step towards safety if they prevail at home to Sunderland.

Marco Silva’s impressive impact since being appointed Hull manager has seen him linked with a number of Premier League clubs, but he is only thinking about the task in hand.

“It is normal that it (speculation) will start now, but we will never lose our focus and we have one goal in mind,” he said.

“I see my future today and tomorrow to prepare the team and I am focused on playing well and winning next Saturday.

“This is what is important — not what happens in two months. I prepare one day then the next day and the next game, and this is my way.”


Friday (1900 GMT):

West Ham v Tottenham

Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Bournemouth v Stoke, Burnley v West Brom, Hull v Sunderland, Leicester v Watford, Man City v Crystal Palace (1130 GMT), Swansea v Everton (1630 GMT)


Arsenal v Man Utd (1500 GMT), Liverpool v Southampton (1230 GMT)

Monday (1900 GMT):

Chelsea v Middlesbrough