Pochettino: We paid for tough run of games
Mauricio Pochettino admitted that Tottenham paid the price for their exertions over the last week as they crashed to a 4-2 defeat in the North London derby.
Tottenham went into the game against Arsenal on the back of sapping victories against Chelsea and Inter Milan in the Champions League, and Pochettino said that they "started to suffer" as the game went on.
"It was an even game, very competitive, with some periods Tottenham better than Arsenal and some periods Arsenal better than Tottenham," Pochettino said. "When we conceded that third goal, it was tough for us to come back mentally, to find the energy to go again. In that moment it was very tough for the team.
"We paid for the effort in the Champions League game against Inter and Chelsea, and we started to suffer.
"Until the third goal, I thought the game was even. But after that, we started to pay. It was difficult for the team to show the normal energy that we show. Then, after the sending-off of Jan Vertonghen, the game was over."
Pochettino had no complaints at the decision to send off Vertonghen late on for a second yellow card - "it was a dangerous action", he admitted - and no complaints either about 20-year-old centre-half Juan Foyth, whose error 16 minutes from time led to the decisive third goal by Alexandre Lacazette. On the contrary: he anointed his fellow Argentinian the best player on the pitch.
"How many players miss a pass on the halfway line?" he said. "A lot. When he misses the pass, there are still 50 metres to the goal. Because he's young, it's easy to blame him. But for me, Juan was one of the best players on the pitch. If we put out the pass that wasn't good, then for 90 minutes he was the best. By far."
Pochettino also played down the brawl that took place between the two sides in the aftermath of Eric Dier's equalising goal, which involved both teams, the Arsenal substitutes, and Pochettino himself running down the touchline. "It was a massive fight, but in that moment I didn't know what was going on," he said. "In the moment I was trying to put calm in our players." (© Independent News Service)