Sunday 23 July 2017

Pochettino doesn't want injuries to disrupt Spurs rhythm ahead of crucial month

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham play Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Saturday.
Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham play Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino believes the next month could define Tottenham's season and says they cannot allow injuries to disrupt their rhythm.

Spurs host Middlesbrough on Saturday, as they look to reduce a nine-point gap on Chelsea, before taking a tough trip to Liverpool next weekend.

Pochettino's men then face two Europa League games against Gent, either side of an FA Cup fifth round tie at Fulham, before finishing the month at home to Stoke in the Premier League.

It means a poor run of form could spell the end of Tottenham's challenge in all three competitions and their cause has not been helped by a recent spate of injuries.

Jan Vertonghen, Erik Lamela and Danny Rose are all set to miss at least some of those fixtures, in a situation reminiscent of when Spurs struggled to cope without the likes of Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele in the autumn.

Tottenham then bowed out of the Champions League, lost in the EFL Cup third round and registered only one win in 10 matches.

"February is very important, it is a month that will mark our objective until the end of the season, every game will be massive," Pochettino said.

"It is a shame because all the injuries are for reasons we cannot manage because they are a knock here and there and a bad tackle or two.

"But it is true we have a very busy period. We have Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League and we need all the players in good condition.

"It looks similar to what happened to us when we were playing in the Champions League, when we had a few problems like this, but we hope that in this situation it will be different to what happened in November."

Tottenham take on Middlesbrough in the late match on Saturday, five hours after Chelsea kick off against Arsenal.

Pochettino will watch the clash at Stamford Bridge but said neither his tactics nor selection will be affected by the result.

"No, no, I am not a manager who thinks 'what happens now?'" Pochettino said.

"I had a manager (Jose Antonio) Camacho who was an international for Spain, spent more than 10 years for Real Madrid, big player, big manager, now with Gabon at Africa Cup of Nations.

"We were playing (at Espanyol) for the Europa League in a very good position but it started to rain a lot at lunch-time. Before the game he told us the starting XI but then said if we play the game and it rains, we play this guy, but if it stops raining, we play this guy.

"The problem was that the game was cancelled. The player that was going to play (in the rain) said, 'oh f*** off'. If I not play next day, I never play again.

"Some managers change their mind if it rains, if it's cold, if it's sunshine. But not me."

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