Spurs con­tinue ti­tle chase in style

Po­chet­tino says his play­ers have learned lessons from last sea­son’s ti­tle race

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer -

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino be­lieves Tot­ten­ham have learned their les­son from the dis­ap­point­ing end-of-sea­son run-in a year ago and will con­tinue their Premier League ti­tle chase un­til the death.

Goals from Mousa Dem­bele, Son He­ung-min, Harry Kane and Vin­cent Janssen com­pleted a 4-0 vic­tory over Bournemouth at White Hart Lane as Tot­ten­ham moved within four points of lead­ers Chelsea, who were beaten 2-0 by Manch­ester United on Easter Sun­day.

Spurs were in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion last year but fal­tered at the tail end of the sea­son as Po­chet­tino’s men went from sec­ond place to fourth in the stand­ings.

Wasted en­ergy

But Po­chet­tino in­sists his side wasted too much en­ergy fo­cus­ing on their ri­vals and now feels Tot­ten­ham are more equipped to en­sure the ti­tle chase con­tin­ues un­til the last game of the sea­son.

“I think we learned a lot,” the Spurs boss said. “That was a very bad pe­riod at the end of last sea­son. We ex­pended a lot of en­ergy fight­ing against Le­ices­ter, but against West Brom, against Chelsea, against the me­dia. We fought against ev­ery­one. But now we are fo­cus­ing on fight­ing our op­po­nents when we play.

“Then we spend time and en­ergy on pre­par­ing our­selves to com­pete in the best way. We have im­proved a lot, from the be­gin­ning of the sea­son that was our chance to im­prove our men­tal­ity, our be­lief and I think you can see the group and the team have im­proved.”

Po­chet­tino also ad­mit­ted that he has preached the im­por­tance of goal dif­fer­ence play­ing a fac­tor in the ti­tle run-in this sea­son.

Af­ter an­other 4-0 win and clean sheet, Spurs now hold the best goal dif­fer­ence in the league and Po­chet­tino feels that this, cou­pled with their de­fen­sive sta­bil­ity, has helped cre­ate a win­ning men­tal­ity at the club.

When asked if goal dif­fer­ence will be im­por­tant this sea­son, Po­chet­tino said: “It’s so im­por­tant. The only way to build that win­ning men­tal­ity is to al­ways play in the same tempo, with the same fo­cus dur­ing the 90 min­utes.

“3-0, 4-0, it’s im­por­tant to keep pos­ses­sion, to score goals and that is the men­tal­ity we are build­ing. Four points is still a lot . . . But they [Chelsea] are still the favourites to win the Premier League.

“We are fight­ing for our­selves, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son we are there, and I think that is a great credit for play­ers and the club.”

That was a very bad pe­riod at the end of last sea­son. We ex­pended a lot of en­ergy fight­ing against Le­ices­ter, but against West Brom, against Chelsea, against the me­dia

Wil­shere in­jury

Mean­while, Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe in­sisted there was no news on the sever­ity of Jack Wil­shere’s in­jury. Tot­ten­ham fans cheered in de­light as the on-loan Ar­se­nal mid­fielder hob­bled off with a leg in­jury in the sec­ond-half.

Wil­shere was seen on crutches and wear­ing a pro­tec­tive boot on his left foot as he left White Hart Lane, but Howe felt that the at­mos­phere was dif­fi­cult for his whole team.

“I think it was dif­fi­cult for all of our team, not just Jack,” he said. “We would have wanted to per­form much bet­ter as a group, we didn’t do it, credit to them [Tot­ten­ham].”

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