By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Jan Vertonghen has revealed that Tottenham’s players were too exhausted to score in the closing stages of their goal-less draw against Chelsea.
Spurs’ preparations for Sunday’s London derby were hampered by their trip to face Qarabag on Thursday night in the Europa League.
Following their 1-0 win against the Azerbaijan-based team, Mauricio Pochettino’s squad did not arrive back to the UK until 5am on Friday.
Vertonghen accepted that Chelsea also had a tiring trip in midweek – Jose Mourinho’s team went to Israel, where they defeated Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0 in a Champions League group match on Tuesday night – but believes the visitors’ extra 48 hours of rest made a difference.
“We lacked a bit of freshness at the end to create some chances,” Vertonghen told Sky Sports on Sunday. “It was a hard trip, we didn’t want an excuse today, but I felt it a bit to be honest.
“They had an away trip in the Champions League so it was the same. We tried to win but Chelsea are the champions and a tough team to beat. It was difficult for us to find solutions. They protected the midfield really well.”
Vertonghen was one of seven Spurs players who started at Qarabag as Pochettino rotated only a few of his regular Premier League starters in Azerbaijan.
The north Londoners are fifth in the Premier League and have not lost in the competition since the opening day of the season when they were defeated by Manchester United.