Pochettino: Tottenham need to be more aggressive
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Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham need to be more aggressive and clinical when they are dominating, rather than assuming a goal will eventually arrive, after Saturday’s late 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Spurs spent most of the match camped in Albion’s half but were unable to score, and they eventually conceded in stoppage-time as their hosts grabbed a lifeline in their relegation battle.
“I think everyone can see the game,” said Pochettino. “We fully dominated but, if you are not clinical in front of goal and don’t score the chances you have, always it’s open.
“In this type of game, against this type of team like West Bromwich, they work so hard in set pieces and when the game is open you can concede.
“I think the key is to be more aggressive. I think the team played well. Maybe some details [can improve] but to be clinical in front of goal is our challenge, because in this type of game, with the chances, possession, the possibility to play in the last third or in the opposite, half, we need to create more – more one v ones, be more aggressive, run forward in behind their defence.
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“I think we played like ‘okay, next action we are going to [score]. If we don’t score, okay, next, next next’.
“We need to realise we need to be more aggressive from the beginning and don’t wait, and to score if we have the chances, and then manage the game.
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“But it was like ‘okay, we are going [to score] because we are dominating the game’. That is a little bit what punished us.”
Spurs scored 10 goals in three matches against Bournemouth, Swansea and Chelsea in March and early April, building up a 10-point lead over fifth-placed Chelsea in the fight for Champions League qualification.
But, since then, they have only mustered seven goals in six matches and Antonio Conte’s Blues can narrow the gap to two points if they beat Liverpool on Sunday.
“I think maybe we need to assess why [we have scored less],” said Pochettino. “The games that we played after [Chelsea], yes our performance dropped a little bit.
“It looks like after Chelsea the job was done and that’s why I’m disappointed in our performances in the last few weeks.
“But it still is in our hands and we need to work so hard during the last two games to try to win them both, because it’s in our hands to be in the Champions League next season. I think it’s so important of course.”
Pochettino started with a 3-4-3 formation at The Hawthorns, deviating from his usual 4-2-3-1 system, and he explained: “I think the last few performances weren’t great.
“I think we need more consistency and then to try to find with our full-backs to go forward and stay wide. I’m happy because I think the system worked. But I think today playing with one or another system is not the key.”
Pochettino denied the suggestion that Spurs have had a wake-up call in the Midlands, adding: “If we need after 36 Premier League games someone to say ‘you need to win, you need to give your best, you need to play with the right attitude’, we need to go deeper and assess why – look in the mirror and say ‘what happened?’.
“Today was a little bit unlucky, conceding in the last moment. But we need to show more – more attitude, more quality, more capacity, if we want to play for big things.”
Jan Vertonghen, who limped off with a twisted ankle, will be assessed on Sunday.
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