Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino: Stoke City game will be tougher than Chelsea
PUBLISHED: 12:31 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 06 April 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
The Spurs boss looks ahead to the match with the Potters and praises young centre back Davinson Sanchez
Mauricio Pochettino has told his Tottenham Hotspur players to forget their historic victory over Chelsea and focus on tomorrow’s trip to Stoke, warning them that the clash with the Potters will be even tougher than the London derby at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs triumphed 3-1 at Chelsea last weekend, winning at the Bridge for the first time since 1990, but Pochettino is adamant that that success will count for little if his players relax and miss out on another three points tomorrow.
“It was fantastic in the moment. We achieved the victory and celebrated of course,” said the Argentinian. “The day after, all disappeared and we focused on the game against Stoke. The key is to be focused and prepare for a big battle because they play to survive.
“Always it’s good to win a derby. It means a lot, after 28 years, to feel that again and the victory was fantastic for everyone.
“But for the manager, staff and players there’s not too much time to enjoy the victory. It’s dangerous because if you enjoy it too much, you don’t prepare for the next game, and we need to be ready. If you don’t keep pushing, it’s so difficult.
“Sometimes after a great victory, as human beings, you can start thinking ‘if we beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, why not win the next games?’ and you can drop a little bit in focus. For me it’s the opposite and our focus must be 200 per cent.
“For me, Stoke will be a tougher game than it was at Stamford Bridge. We’re playing for three points, the same as against Chelsea.
“Of course we feel confident, we trust, we work in a very good atmosphere because we beat a very good opponent. But in the end, football doesn’t exist in the past, only in the present, and if you don’t prepare to compete again, you can struggle.
“We must be ready to match them with the same motivation and hunger. Three points will be massive for them but us too, because to finish in the top four is a massive objective for us.
“We want to finish as high as possible. We’re in a good position with a lot of games to play. One objective is the top four, to have Champions League football is our new stadium next season - and to finish second, of course, is better than third or fourth.”
Tottenham have an excellent record against Stoke, having triumphed 17-1 on aggregate across the last four meetings.
Harry Kane has scored eight of Spurs’ goals in that period and he could lead the line tomorrow, having returned from an ankle injury as a substitute last weekend.
“He’s ok after playing nearly 20 minutes against Chelsea,” said Pochettino. “This week was good, working hard. Yes, he’s going to arrive. We need to see him one training session more today, after the press conference.”
Harry Winks (ankle) and Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring) are the only players who are out of action.
Winks’ ankle has been an issue since early November, but Pochettino says surgery is not being considered for now.
“At the moment, no,” he said. “We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks but at the moment no. He’s still doing his rehab and we’ll see what happens. At the moment it’s not an option.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has praised 21-year-old centre-back Davinson Sanchez, whose hopes of winning this season’s PFA Young Player of the Year award have been boosted by the fact that Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has voted for him.
“De Bruyne’s opinion is his opinion, but of course he [Davinson] is young and he’s showing great qualities and performances to help the team achieve what we want,” said Pochettino.
“Our expectation when we signed Davinson was he was a player with enormous potential who was, sure, going to help the team. But of course his adaptation to the team and the Premier League was I think much better than we expected.
“We are happy because when we decided to sign him the club made a big effort, and now we’re all happy to have him with us.
“I think he’s humble. That is a massive point for every single player to learn, and to adapt yourself into the new environment.
“We had a lot of information about his character but I think he surprised us much better than we expected, because he’s always available to learn, to improve. He accepts criticism, corrections, and that for me is the most important thing.
“Of course the characteristics of the player is he’s fast, he’s aggressive, he plays very well with the ball, and at 21 years old I think he’s showing a great maturity.
“But he needs to keep his feet on the grass because he’s still so young, and it’s easy to go backwards if you don’t manage in your head all this type of praise.”
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