Pochettino eager to tighten screw on Chelsea
TOTTENHAM Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is relishing the opportunity to load more pressure upon Premier League leaders Chelsea following his side’s superb derby win over Arsenal.
Chelsea took a step closer to the title by winning at Everton on Sunday, but Spurs are still snapping at their heels, their dazzling 2-0 defeat of Arsenal leaving them four points off the pace.
Spurs can close the gap to a slender point if they win at West Ham United on Friday, which would leave Chelsea to stew for three days before their home game with Middlesbrough on Monday.
“We are in the race for the title,” Pochettino told reporters at White Hart Lane.
“We reduce again the gap with Chelsea and that for us is the focus now because we have another important game ahead on Friday against West Ham.”
Asked if victory at West Ham would represent a psychological blow in the title race, Pochettino replied: “It will be. We’ll see after.
“We will have the chance to play before them and if we are capable to win against West Ham, which will be another tough derby game, then we’ll see what happens with them against Middlesbrough.”
Spurs’ win was a fitting way for the team to bow out in the final north London derby at White Hart Lane, which will be demolished to make way for their new 61,000-seater stadium.
Dele Alli broke the deadlock in the 55th minute, sliding home the rebound after Petr Cech had saved from Christian Eriksen, with Harry Kane adding a nerveless penalty three minutes later.
Had it not been for the acrobatics of Arsenal goalkeeper Cech, the home side might have won by a landslide.
It was Spurs’ ninth straight victory, their 13th successive home win and ensured they will finish the season looking down on Arsenal in the standings for the first time since 1995.
Pochettino said his players had not watched Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Everton earlier on Sunday.
While he admitted to personal disappointment over Spurs’ failure to eat into Chelsea’s lead more significantly, he said nothing could take the sheen off his team’s performance.
“Disappointed about Chelsea?
We will have the chance to play before them and if we are capable to win against West Ham, which will be another tough derby game, then we’ll see what happens with them against Middlesbrough.
After 2-0 here against Arsenal? Do you believe we’re disappointed?” he asked with a smile.
“Of course I am disappointed, because it was a great opportunity to reduce the gap.
“We are four (points behind), there are four games to play. All is possible in football. We’ll see what happens next week.
“Now it’s a moment to feel proud, happy, because the last derby against Arsenal (at White Hart Lane), all that it means for our fans, for everyone that loves Tottenham, it was a fantastic afternoon.” AFP lose the game today.
“We have to play more and create more than we did today.”
Dele Alli put Spurs ahead after 55 minutes before Harry Kane was fouled in the area soon after and converted the penalty.
Wenger felt the first goal and the spot-kick were soft.
“Spurs were sharper than us physically and we were too restricted in our game. At the moment, we are not back to the level of confidence we need to play in the way we can.
“The desire was there but we lacked something today.”
Like his counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, Wenger was also keen to emphasise that there are more important aspects to a season than finishing above your greatest rivals.
Sunday’s win means Spurs are guaranteed to finish above bitter rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995.
“Well done to them, but when you start the championship the target is not to finish above Spurs, it is to fight for the title,” said the Frenchman.
“In 20 years it happened once. Mathematically it has to happen once. We’re not happy with it but we don’t compare ourselves to Spurs, we compare ourselves to where we want to be.”
At the moment, Arsenal are some way off that. Reuters
Tottenham's Harry Kane celebrates scoring the second goal against Arsenal with Dele Alli on Sunday. Tottenham won 2-0.