Next 10 games vital: Pochettino

Jan Vertonghen (centre) and Toby Alderweireld (left) have formed an outstanding partnership in the centre of defence, contributing to Spurs having the best defensive record in the Premier League so far, conceding only 15 goals in 19 matches.
Jan Vertonghen (centre) and Toby Alderweireld (right) have formed an outstanding partnership in the centre of defence.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Spurs manager says those results could make or break his young side's league title hopes

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino will allow himself to think about the possibility of Tottenham Hotspur winning the Premier League title only if his team's impressive form continues in their next 10 matches.

Tottenham were four points off first place (before yesterday's round of matches) and they visit Everton today seeking their fourth consecutive victory, but Pochettino is not getting carried away.

"We need to arrive in the last 10 games with the possibility to fight for the objectives," the manager said. "The next nine, 10 games will maybe make the mark on how we finish in the table."

The Argentinian, who has indicated that he will make signings this month only if they do not disrupt the balance of his squad, believes his young side's maturity is a sign that they will be able to handle the pressure of challenging for the title. Spurs have lost only twice this season.

"I think we are very quiet," Pochettino said. "The good thing is we don't speak too much but we work very hard and I think it is most important how we behave inside, so that we can speak outside.

"Because football is about winning games, and, to win games and to be close to winning games, you need to work hard and to show better quality than the opponent."

The manager admitted the challenge for him and his coaching staff is to ensure they do not stand still.

"I think this always is our challenge, to try to improve every day because if you stop improving, you start to go backwards," he said. "And I think that we always, in our minds, try to improve every day.

"How? This is a good question. It's our quality and our creativity, and this is because we work every day.

"It's our motivation to improve and develop new ideas. We need to create every day and try to improve ourselves to teach the players."

Tottenham's hopes of beating Everton will largely depend on how they cope with Romelu Lukaku, who has scored 11 goals in his past 10 matches. However, the Belgian striker will not find it easy against two of his international team-mates.

Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have formed an outstanding partnership in central defence since the latter's arrival from Atletico Madrid last summer. Tottenham have the best defensive record in the Premier League, with 15 goals conceded from 19 matches.

"It is obvious after 19 games that Alderweireld is one of the best defenders in the Premier League," Pochettino said. "I think it is easy to analyse him now.

"He has given us very good performances and maturity and experience. He is a great man."

Vertonghen's form has improved alongside his fellow Belgian centre-back.

"They are good partners," Pochettino said. "For me, it is important how we work as a team, to try and defend our goal, and to have a very good balance.

"But it is true that Toby has made a very good impact on the team."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 03, 2016, with the headline 'NEXT 10 GAMES VITAL: POCHETTINO'. Print Edition | Subscribe