Boss expects long break to aid Spurs

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur's clash with Manchester United on Sunday will show whether manager Mauricio Pochettino made the right call when he sacrificed progress in Europe to focus on clinching Spurs' first Premier League title in 55 years.

Second in the table and seven points adrift of leaders Leicester City with six games left, Spurs were knocked out of the Europa League by Borussia Dortmund 1-5 on aggregate after Pochettino rested key players in the last-16 stage.

The Argentinian made seven changes to his team for the first leg in Germany, resting Eric Dier and leaving leading scorer Harry Kane on the bench, along with Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela.

Spurs lost the game 0-3, effectively killing their hopes of progression to the quarter-finals.

Last weekend, Pochettino's hopes that the absence of European action would help his players hunt down the Foxes were derailed by the international break.

  • 1

  •  Number of days after the international break that Tottenham had to prepare for their Premier League match at Liverpool, which they drew 1-1.

Spurs had only a day to prepare for their match against Liverpool on Saturday and dropped two points at Anfield, but now have eight days to prepare for the visit of United.

"We haven't had many clear weeks this season," Pochettino told the club's website. "We've had a lot of midweek games but... now we have a few days to recover and try to prepare for United.

"International weeks can be difficult... but now we have six games left in six weeks and time to prepare the players. We will fight until the end of the season."

Meanwhile, United midfielder Ander Herrera has backed his team to raise their game against Spurs, citing their record against top Premier League teams this season.

United beat Spurs in their opening league game of the campaign, and have also recorded wins over Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, as well as an away draw at leaders Leicester City.

"When we play against a top team, I am not so worried about our performance because we usually do quite well," the Spaniard said.

"We have to prepare very good... because we watched Tottenham's game against Liverpool. I think they deserved to win, they controlled the second half almost fully, so it is not going to be easy.

"But when we play against top teams I think we perform better."

United could receive a boost, with captain Wayne Rooney set to undergo a scan this week with a view of making his comeback from injury against Spurs, reported the Telegraph. The forward last played on Feb 13.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Boss expects long break to aid Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe