Mauricio Pochettino insists Spurs will not have home advantage by playing FA Cup semi-final at Wembley
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On Saturday Tottenham and Man United will do battle at the national stadium, Spurs’ home venue for this season, for a place in the FA Cup final
Mauricio Pochettino does not believe Tottenham Hotspur will get an advantage from the fact that their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United will be played at Wembley.
Spurs have been using the national stadium as their home ground this season so will be in familiar surroundings during Saturday’s final-four clash.
However, the Lilywhites will be using the opposite dressing room to the one they have occupied throughout the campaign, and Pochettino expects the entire occasion to have a different feel.
“Now we feel different because we’re going to share Wembley’s facilities with Manchester United,” he said. “During the season we owned the stadium and we felt like home. Now we’re going to share.
“It’s special, it’s a different competition and I’m sure the atmosphere will be completely different than when we play in the Premier League.
“Manchester United have the experience to play at Wembley too. I think it’s not an advantage for us or a disadvantage for them. I think it will be typical FA Cup game at Wembley – half Tottenham and half Manchester United.”
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Pochettino will be without Danny Rose and Harry Winks for Saturday’s semi-final but still has selection dilemmas.
He must choose between Heung-min Son and Erik Lamela in midfield, while goalkeeper Michel Vorm has started every domestic cup tie this season and could continue that run.
Asked whether the Dutchman will get the nod between the sticks, Pochettino said: “You know I never confirm the team before confirming it to the players. It’s one possibility of course. We’ve got the last training session and I’m going to decide tomorrow the starting XI.”
Spurs’ manager must also decide whether to include Toby Alderweireld in his starting line-up, after the Belgian impressed on his return to the side at Brighton on Tuesday.
While the likelihood is that Davinson Sanchez will be restored at the heart of the rearguard, Pochettino could change his formation and pick three centre-backs to accommodate Alderweireld.
“It’s one of the options, but I’m not going to tell you how we’re going to play,” said the Tottenham boss. “For different circumstances we started with a back four, then changed to a back three, and then changed again. It’s about balance and different aspects that we assess and decide to play.
“The possibility to play with different systems during the season, I think it’s important because you have different plans to play when you face some teams. But I think after 14 games unbeaten in the Premier League, using a similar system, I think it’s not a point to change.
“But I’m a person that is always open to improving, I’m so flexible. But we’ll see what happens on Saturday. It’s different ideas and ways to play and it’s sure it’s one more idea or one more way to play. We’ll decide how to play tomorrow.”
Tottenham have gone 10 years without a trophy, since the 2008 League Cup triumph, and their supporters are desperately hoping the drought will be ended next month.
But Pochettino has repeated his view that the domestic cups are less important than the Premier League and Champions League when it comes to Tottenham’s long-term progress.
“I think it’s fantastic if Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester United or Tottenham win the FA Cup. But is it going to change our life? I don’t believe so,” he said.
“Every press conference you ask [whether we need a trophy to be successful]. Always my answer is yes, I agree, and if we are capable of winning the Premier League and the Champions League it is a moment to say the team has improved and reached the next level.
“Until that, winning the FA Cup or the League Cup, it will be fantastic for our fans but is not going to move the club to a different level. That is my opinion.
“Some people respect it, some people don’t. I respect all opinions from the fans and people in the media. Only it’s my vision. I want to play to win the Premier League and Champions League.
“If we can play to try to win the FA Cup or League Cup, fantastic. But it’s sure it’s going to change the vision or put the club in a different level if you are capable of first of all competing to win the Premier League and then, if you do that, to compete and then win the Champions League.”
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