Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has warned his top players they are in for a gruelling Christmas period.
Spurs are about to embark on a run of seven fixtures in 21 days, which could have a massive say on whether they will remain as Premier League title contenders.
They start at Crystal Palace on Sunday before games with Liverpool, Leicester, Wolves, Fulham and Leeds, with a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Stoke sandwiched in between.
Mourinho has been used to juggling his squad so far this season as they have been in Europa League action and will do so again, but says his star men such Harry Kane and Son Heung-min will have to play most of the matches.
“Now is the accumulation of matches in the Premier League that, to be honest, are more difficult than the Europa League matches because the quality of the teams is higher in the Premier League,” the Portuguese said.
“We also have a quarter-final to play at Stoke and Stoke is doing so, so well in the Championship.
“So many matches. Do we need to make rotations? Of course we need to. It is impossible for a player to play all these matches in a short period of time, of course we need to do it and we have to do it but at the same time there are players that are really, really unique.
“And with some unique players in spite of the fact that the squad is very good we have to try to give them the most minutes possible because they can make a difference.”
Mourinho has got results against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in recent weeks by sitting in when necessary and hitting their opponents on the break.
That is unlikely to be the case at Selhurst Park on Sunday against a Palace side who will be difficult to break down, but Mourinho says his side can draw on wins at Burnley and West Brom earlier this season.
“Palace defend but Palace attack,” he said. “Palace they have in spite of I didn’t analyse them yet with detail, but I can say that yes they defend, yes they defend with lots of people and experienced people but they have quality in attack, organised attack, counter-attack and set-pieces so they are a team that can threaten in lots of different situations.
“So the game is going to be globally difficult. But without comparing opponents because of course Palace is in another dimension, but West Brom, Burnley were very difficult matches for us but we managed to win these matches.”
Those results against City and Chelsea as well as wins over Brighton and the Baggies helped earn Mourinho manager of the month for November.
“For me it is not manager of the month, it is team of the month,” he said. “It is about us as a team, the results we had in November.
“It is not about me it is about the team and if it was about me it would have to be the coaching staff of the month because without the other guys it would not be possible.
“This kind of thing I never feel it as an individual award, I always feel that it belongs to the team and the results we did.
“If we don’t have three victories and one draw at Stamford Bridge in November, for sure we wouldn’t have any chance to win it. It is about the team.”
Spurs hope to have Serge Aurier back for the trip across the capital after he missed Thursday’s Europa League win over Royal Antwerp with a knock.
Meanwhile, midfielder Harvey White has signed a new contract until 2024.
The 19-year-old, who was promoted to the first team by Mourinho, made his senior debut in the Europa League game with Ludogorets last month.
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