Mourinho ‘smelling’ top four opportunity ahead of crunch Spurs run

Tottenham Hotspur

Jose Mourinho says he can sense there is an opportunity for Tottenham to secure Champions League qualification this season.

Spurs head to Aston Villa this weekend sat in sixth place in the Premier League standings and could move up a spot with a win in Birmingham on Sunday.

Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions Leagues means that, unless Uefa’s ruling is overturned, fifth place would be good enough to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition this season.

However, it is tight between the clubs in fourth all the way down to 13th-placed Southampton, with just 10 points separating the sides.

Mourinho expects the fight for Champions League qualification to be fierce heading into the final 13 league matches of the season but believes recent results have shown Tottenham have what it takes to get across the line.

The Portuguese told BBC’s Football Focus: “First of all, I see much more clubs then people think.

“Sometimes it looks like, because Chelsea are the fourth and sometimes Tottenham is in fifth and Manchester United are the sixth, we are smelling the opportunity.”

Mourinho acknowledges that Tottenham are about to enter a crunch period in their season but is keen to not look too far ahead.

Spurs’s trip to Aston Villa marks the start of a run of three matches in six days following the resumption after the winter break.

Mourinho has moaned widely about the scheduling over Sunday’s game considering they are in Champions League action against RB Leipzig on Wednesday night and then face a massive test in their pursuit of the Premier League top four by visiting Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.

But the trip to the second city is Mourinho’s primary concern.

“It’s a really hard week for us – Sunday Villa, Wednesday Leipzig, Saturday Chelsea, said Mourinho. “But let’s go match after match, and the first one will be difficult. Always difficult Villa Park.”

Spurs head into the game against the relegation-threatened Villans unbeaten in three matches and Mourinho has been boosted by the news Ben Davies could be fit to feature on Sunday.