Title chase has energised Tottenham, warns Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has warned Leicester his players are as fresh as they were at the start of the season and ready for a sprint finish to win the title.

Spurs are now eight points behind Leicester after the Foxes hammered Swansea 4-0 yesterday, but can close the gap back to five with a win at home to West Brom tonight.

Concerns that Pochettino’s pressing style of play and intense training methods might lead to fatigue have been allayed, with his side losing only once in the league since January and taking 14 points from the last 18 available.

Tottenham have four games left to catch Leicester and Pochettino believes his players are running further and fighting harder with the finishing line in sight.

“I think we are as strong as at the start of the season, we are at the same level, maybe the difference is our opponents,” Pochettino said.

“The data is similar at the beginning to now because now we can see the finish line.

“We don’t arrive yet, this is important, but our motivation is good and then you can run more. 

It is always in our mind and we are in a very good moment. We need to fight to achieve big things like winning the title.”

Tottenham may also have been spurred on by the suspension to Jamie Vardy, who missed Leicester’s game against Swansea and could also have to sit out Sunday’s match at Manchester United.

Vardy was clearly not missed against the Swans, but his ban could yet prove a tipping point in the title race, although Pochettino insists he will not be urging caution upon his own youthful squad.

“In football you can never send the message ‘be careful’ to the players. They need to feel free to play,” Pochettino said.

“If you translate this message you put this idea in their heads and you a put a limit on them. I think we feel free, without pressure.

“We showed it [last] Monday, we played very well and the way we took the game was fantastic.”

Tottenham’s emphatic victory over Stoke last week proved they are ready to push Leicester all the way, but they still have a mountain to climb, with games against Chelsea, Southampton, and Newcastle to come after facing the Baggies. Leicester play Manchester United, Everton, and Chelsea.

Pochettino says he knew Spurs would win at the Britannia Stadium, just from his players’ mood before the game, and the Argentinian wants to maintain that drive during the final four games of the season.

“It was fantastic before the Stoke game, in the warm-up and when they arrived on the pitch,” Pochettino said.

“You could feel we were ready to compete and the trust between each other was fantastic. It felt impossible we wouldn’t get the three points.

“You can feel that from them. When you achieve that, it is fantastic and we need to fight now not to lose this feeling.”

West Brom manager Tony Pulis wants an improved north London performance after the Baggies were beaten 2-0 at Arsenal last Thursday.

“That was our most disappointing performance — Arsenal deserved to win because we looked flat,” he said.

“We didn’t do very well on Thursday. We have to dust ourselves down and put a performance in.”

Pulis has said many times he would like to see Leicester win the league but he has always been a fan of Pochettino.

“It’s great for football that there will be a different team picking up the trophy this year,” he said.

Pulis may look to make changes to his side, with the likes of Salomon Rondon, Jonas Olsson, and Craig Gardner knocking at the door for a starting place.


Lifestyle

Some readers have been in touch about the movement of frogs, which is timely as these fascinating creatures now emerge from hibernation.Donal Hickey: Time for frog-spotting

A very short drive from Kinsale lies an island that is the international focal point for a tough breed of people.Islands of Ireland: In the swim of things at Sandy Cove Island

'Myrtle, your hair is on fire,' an alarmed guest exclaimed as Myrtle’s fringe went up in flames while she was enthusiastically flambéing crêpes beside their table.Darina Allen: The best recipes to get you ready for Pancake Tuesday

Paul McLauchlan meets Nicholas HoultThe kid from About A Boy is now the face of Armani

More From The Irish Examiner