Football: Win keeps Spurs' walking wounded optimistic

Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate their winning goal during the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City.
Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate their winning goal during the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said that the balm of victory would help his hobbling players prepare for tomorrow's Premier League clash with London rivals West Ham United.

Harry Kane wore a face mask to protect a broken nose against Swansea City on Sunday and Dele Alli injured his foot in the warm-up, but both players finished the match with smiles as Spurs came from behind to win 2-1.

Coupled with Arsenal's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United, it enabled Pochettino's men to reclaim second place and close in to within two points of leaders Leicester City.

After visiting sixth-placed West Ham, Spurs face a showdown with north London rivals Arsenal.

But, despite their walking wounded, Pochettino said: "It's easier to prepare for the West Ham game after this victory. They (the players) are happy, they smile, it is always a better mood to recover.

"It is an exciting moment for us, but some players we need to manage because some players feel a little bit tired. We came from a very tough period."

On Sunday, given their litany of injuries, Pochettino fielded a side with an average age of 24 years and 103 days, the second-youngest in the Premier League this season. It was only marginally less youthful than another Spurs side who averaged 24 years and 39 days against Manchester City in September.

While the victory over the Swans was Spurs' sixth straight win, Pochettino said there was no talk of taking the Premier League in his team's dressing room.

"I think nobody speaks about that in our dressing room," the cautious Argentinian told Sky Sports when asked whether Spurs could win their first top-flight title since their 1960-61 League and FA Cup double-winning campaign.

"We believe we can win every game and we'll see what happens at the end of the season.

"Our mentality is to look to the next game and go step by step. Now, we need to focus again. We have a strong squad and we will try to manage it in the right way.

"For me, it is not important (that Arsenal lost to Manchester United on Sunday). What is important is our own performance and there are still 11 Premier League games ahead."

What he saw from his youthful, spirited side, though, could only enthuse Pochettino once more.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Win keeps Spurs' walking wounded optimistic'. Print Edition | Subscribe