Pochettino’s confident Spurs will avoid the dip that followed their victory over Man City
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Mauricio Pochettino is confident Tottenham will maintain their current form after Wednesday’s victory over Chelsea and avoid the dip that followed their home win over Manchester City earlier this season.
Spurs won six out of seven games in September and early October, culminating in a highly impressive 2-0 triumph over Pep Guardiola’s City side - who topped the Premier League table at the time - at White Hart Lane.
However, a dramatic loss of form then ensued and the Lilywhites only managed to win one of their next 10 matches.
Tottenham have since regained their momentum and have now secured seven victories from their last eight matches – the latest coming with another notable 2-0 home win over the current leaders, Chelsea.
This time, however, Pochettino expects his side to continue going from strength to strength, starting with Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash with Aston Villa at the Lane.
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“If you go back to what happened after Manchester City, or just before, I think we had many problems in the same period,” said the manager. “There were some injuries – Toby [Alderweireld], Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele.
“In a very key period for us in the Champions League and Premier League we were in a position where it was difficult to cope with that pressure. We missed that rotation, to keep the level and the energy up, because some players were out.
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“It was very bad luck in that period, and we struggled a little bit to cope with different games and different competitions. It was a very busy period if you remember.
“There were a lot of draws, not only in the Premier League but in the Champions League too. There were many, many, problems in the team.
“I think it was key because now we are out of the Champions League, and maybe we are not top of the table because we had a little bit of bad luck in that period. We couldn’t keep the level that we were showing before and have been showing now in the last few months.”
Unlike in October and November, when Spurs’ campaign stalled, Pochettino is now only missing one player due to injury – Erik Lamela, who has missed the last 14 matches with a hip problem.
The Spurs manager suggested last month that his fellow Argentinian was targeting the game at Southampton on December 28 for his comeback.
However, more than a week after that match, Pochettino is declining to put a timescale on Lamela’s return, and the 24-year-old has flown to Italy and linked up with his former club Roma to continue his recovery.
“I don’t want to make a mistake again [by saying when he’ll be back],” said Pochettino. “Before it was a minor injury and then [it was] complicated, complicated, complicated. It may appear we want to keep something [secret] but that’s the truth. We don’t need to hide anything.
“Will he play again this season? Yes of course. It’s only that first of all it was nothing, then it was a little bit and then it was that minor problem still every day. Then his brother’s problem happened and he went to Argentina and stopped [the treatment], and then he came back.
“That affected a little bit his mind. It was a really slow recovery and that’s why he’s very anxious – ‘I need to go’ - and we thought, ok maybe it is good for you and your mind to change scenery.”
Pochettino is likely to rest a number of his key players against Aston Villa this weekend, including summer signing Victor Wanyama, who has started every Premier League game this season.
The summer signing, who is thought to have only cost £9million rather than the £11m fee that has previously been reported, received special praise from Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after Wednesday’s London derby, and Pochettino admits Wanyama has quickly become an important and trusted figure.
“He’s a player that we knew very well before,” said the Spurs boss. “We signed him from Southampton and I think now he is showing his real level. He is a really important player for us, but I think you can see that every week when he plays on the pitch.
“He’s strong, powerful, he provides a very good balance for the team and he is not only a holding midfield - he plays very well with the ball. He is always in a position where he is under pressure because so many players want to press him.
“But I think the fantastic thing about him is that he fitted into the team from day one. He had an unbelievable welcome from the players - they love him. He’s a very nice person and a very good player. You can see that, not only against Chelsea.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs