Spurs boss: We must show we have learned from our last meeting with West Brom
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Mauricio Pochettino says Saturday’s clash against West Bromwich Albion gives Tottenham an opportunity to show they have learned from the dip that followed their home win over Manchester City earlier in the season.
Spurs beat Pep Guardiola’s side 2-0 at White Hart Lane in October, securing their fifth victory in a row, but they then drew 1-1 with Tony Pulis’ Baggies at the Hawthorns and only won one of their following nine games.
Three months on Tottenham have returned to top form and have won their last five league matches – a run that culminated in another highly impressive 2-0 home win over league leaders Chelsea at the Lane.
Their next challenge, again, is a showdown with West Brom – this time in north London – and Pochettino is keen to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
“If you remember a few months ago, after City, I think now it’s a moment to show we have learned,” said the Spurs manager. “We have in front of us a very tough game and we need to show we have learned about [what happened] a few months ago.
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“If you remember, we dropped a little bit our performance after a fantastic victory and now, after Chelsea, it’s a great opportunity to show what we deserve, and keeping the momentum for us will be key.”
Disappointing and damaging results against West Brom have become something of a theme for Spurs.
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Last April the Lilywhites were firmly in the title hunt and a 4-0 victory at Stoke only highlighted their credentials – but, again, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Albion, for the second time that season.
In fact, Spurs have only won one of their last seven matches against their Midlands foes, while also losing once. The other five meetings have ended in draws – including the last three, which have all ended 1-1.
While Pochettino is determined to look forward rather than back, he is fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead this weekend – and he feels patience will be vital.
“For me the past is in the past and I think it’s [important] to put that idea away,” said Pochettino. “I’m very focused [on the fact] that this will be a different game.
“I don’t care about what happened before. It’s a new game, a different period, but it will be tough because West Bromwich are having a fantastic season so far. It’s always difficult to play against a team managed by Tony Pulis.
“If you saw the games that West Brom played against Chelsea or Arsenal they were very well organised. We will expect a very tough game and it’s sure they will put us in a very difficult situation with not too much space to play, and it will be difficult to find that space to create a lot of chances. But we have time to work and we’ll see what happens.
“One of the keys is to be patient and try to move the ball quickly and try to find the space to move them, because they will play very deep and try to exploit their counter-attack and set pieces.
“It’s important for us to be patient, to handle the ball in a better way and try to avoid their counter-attack and try to find the space and gaps to try to create chances.”
Spurs have the chance to close in on Chelsea and climb into second place in the table on Saturday – even if only temporarily – given they kick off at 12.30pm, before all of their rivals.
“I think when you play first, before your opponent, it’s always a good opportunity to put pressure on them,” said Pochettino. “We felt that in the opposite way last season because we always played after Leicester. But today we’re in a different period.
“It’s a long way to the end of the season - I think it’s not decisive to play before or after. At the end of the season that situation can affect things, but today it’s not an important thing.”
Spurs will once again be without Erik Lamela this weekend as the Argentinian continues his recovery from a long-term hip injury with his former club Roma in Italy.
“We have information about him every day,” said Pochettino. “He’s doing well, only we cannot push too much because it’s about time, so he can recover.
“But our idea is maybe one week more there [in Rome] and then back to London and try to see in which level [he’s at], and start to build his fitness to try to help the team as soon as possible.
“It’s difficult to say [when he will next play] and I don’t want to guess again because it looked like it was nothing [at the start].”
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