Thursday 27 October 2016

Kyle Walker surprised by the strength of Tottenham's rivalries

Published 01/05/2016 | 16:06

Kyle Walker and Tottenham face Chelsea on Monday night
Kyle Walker and Tottenham face Chelsea on Monday night

Kyle Walker admits he has been surprised by the ferocity of the rivalry between Tottenham and Chelsea ahead of the sides' crunch Barclays Premier League meeting on Monday night.

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Spurs visit Chelsea knowing they need a win to keep the title race alive after Leicester's draw at Manchester United on Sunday.

There is little love lost between Mauricio Pochettino's men and the Blues, with the two clubs clashing in recent years over Danish director of football Frank Arnesen, failed bids for Luka Modric and most recently, a potential ground-share at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham have also not forgotten how they lost out on a place in the Champions League in 2012, despite finishing fourth, after Chelsea won the tournament and snatched the last qualification spot.

Walker, who moved to White Hart Lane seven years ago from Sheffield United, admits he was aware of the club's historic rivalry with Arsenal but says he has been surprised at the ill-feeling with West Ham and Chelsea as well.

"When I first moved down here, obviously you know about the Spurs and Arsenal rivalry," Walker said.

"I was getting advised, 'Don't buy a red car. Don't do this, don't do that.' I was thinking, 'OK, here we go!' I'm a Sheffield United fan, I love red and white!

"But I was also living around Essex and I'm getting West Ham fans taunting me. I was thinking: 'Oh, Ok. I didn't know about this.'

"Then of course Chelsea. But I think it's good that there are rivalries everywhere. We're right on each other's doorsteps and it's good for football, and it's only going to get bigger and better.

"Now I've just got a push-bike. I come to work on my push-bike and it's a white one."

Tottenham have not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since February 1990 but they head into the game as favourites, with Guus Hiddink's side coming to the end of a miserable season.

Chelsea begin the match 22 points behind their opponents but Walker is under no illusions about the test that lies ahead.

"It's a London derby so it's going to be difficult," Walker said.

"They've got world-class players. OK, this season hasn't gone well for them but they are not going to want us to come there to their patch and win.

"We need to go and show the fighting spirit that we've shown all season and go and get a result there. It's been a long time so hopefully we can put it right."

Two years ago Tim Sherwood accused Tottenham of "lacking guts and character" following a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge but Pochettino's side are these days made of sterner stuff.

One defeat in eight games this season against Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal is testament to a new-found resilience against elite sides.

"It's a completely different work ethic now," Walker said. "The lads are much closer. I'm not saying before it didn't hurt but now we've got something to play for.

"We're going for a title and worst case scenario, hopefully, it's Champions League now.

"Who would have thought I would have been saying that two years ago? It's either the title or worst case scenario Champions League.

"So it's positives. I think now it's built on good foundations this club. We're not building on sand. We need to keep building.

"We need to keep reaching to the goal where Tottenham Hotspur should be."

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