Saturday 20 January 2018

Spurs will hold nerve - Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino

Steve Sutcliffe

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino believes his team can correct the mistakes of last season and are well-equipped to push Chelsea for the Premier League title.

A year ago Tottenham emerged as the most credible challengers to Leicester, but collected just two points from their final four fixtures. It was a monumental collapse that meant they finished a distant 11 points behind Claudio Ranieri's side and even ceded second position to Arsenal.

However, their 2-0 victory at Burnley on Saturday, coupled with Chelsea's defeat to Crystal Palace, has, according to the Argentinian, injected both renewed belief into Spurs and excitement into a title race that had threatened to become a procession.

While Antonio Conte's team have a seven-point cushion, the case for Tottenham manufacturing a successful pursuit is advanced by the remaining nine fixtures for both clubs. Pochettino's team appear to have a marginally better run-in, with Swansea, Watford and Bournemouth on the immediate horizon.

Chelsea's assignments appear more troublesome. Manchester City, whose title hopes took a hit yesterday when drawing with Arsenal, arrive at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with a trip to Old Trafford following within the next fortnight.

"I think it's important that we keep the belief and we keep up at the top, fighting," Pochettino said. "Always I tell the players, 'we must show we have learned from last season' and that maybe we are intelligent people.

"What happened, happened. We will see if we have learned. We don't need anybody to push us to be excited because it is exciting that we are living now."

Tottenham meandered through the opening 45 minutes at Burnley, where they were largely frustrated by the industry of their hosts.

However, tactical revisions and a half-time redeployment - which were in part enforced due to injuries to Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks - reaped dividends.

Eric Dier, who had earlier operated as part of a three-man defence, seamlessly pressed forward into midfield and scored the goal which laid the foundations for what amounted to be a comfortable end to the game, with Son Heung-min adding a second in the 77th minute.

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