Mauricio Pochettino not ruling out Tottenham's title hopes but urges caution
Published 28/12/2015 | 19:21
Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham can win the Barclays Premier League title but wants his players to stay grounded after their last-gasp win at Watford.
Spurs moved into third and above Manchester City, who play Leicester on Tuesday, after Son Heung-min scored late on to snatch a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road.
Watford defender Nathan Ake was sent off after Odion Ighalo had earlier cancelled out Erik Lamela's opener but the Hornets hung on for the best part of half an hour before Son's cute finish.
The result means Tottenham have managed three straight wins in the league but Pochettino insists his players must not get carried away by the table.
"Can we win the title? The numbers reflect that it is possible but the most important thing for us is to try to keep inside our thoughts, try to win every game and to keep working hard," Pochettino said.
"We are very young, the youngest squad in the Premier League, and you need to show your strengths in all the league.
"But to speak about the title - it's more important to keep working hard and showing our maturity."
Pochettino has been consistent in his selection and system this season but he deployed an unfamiliar 3-4-2-1 formation to combat Watford's in-form strikers Troy Deeney and Ighalo.
Eric Dier dropped into a back three and while he was unable to stop Ighalo scoring his 14th goal of the season, Pochettino was pleased with the tactical switch.
"We play always with Eric like a holding midfielder but the way that they play and what we analysed, we found that they play a lot of long balls to make it dangerous for the opponent," Pochettino said.
"So it was a good solution to give calm to the team and manage the game from the back.
"I was only a little bit disappointed with the way that we conceded the goal. At 1-0 up we should have killed the game and scored more goals."
The one disappointment for Spurs saw Mousa Dembele taken off before half-time at Vicarage Road.
Dembele was struggling with an ankle injury ahead of the game and Pochettino admits the Belgian may now face time on the sidelines.
"We need to wait and assess him tomorrow," Pochettino added.
"We hope it's not too bad. Maybe one week, two weeks."
Watford remain seventh in the table but underlined their potential as contenders for the European spots with another battling performance.
The Hornets could even have felt themselves unfortunate as Ben Watson's corner almost crossed the line one minute before Son appeared to have strayed offside in the build-up to his goal.
"The line separating wins and losses is very thin - one minute we can win the match, one minute later we lost," Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores said.
"I am proud of the players because they fight a lot. They have a very big soul.
"They have amazing desire to play for the fans against a very tough team but the first feeling of course is sad because we are really close to taking one point against an amazing team."
Flores also revealed Ake apologised to his team-mates for his red card, which came in the 62nd minute after he challenged a bouncing ball but instead caught Erik Lamela on the thigh.
"He is disappointed but I support him more than ever," Flores said.
"He is a very fair player. This kind of player you need to love because he is an amazing player in all ways.
"He apologised but he didn't need to, it's football. He went for the ball and deserved to take the ball. It's football, it can happen."