Spurs not distracted by Barca clash

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted that he is fully focused on today's Premier League trip to Huddersfield, despite a massive Champions League clash with Barcelona four days later.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday, the Argentinian said his team must win today to avoid a repeat of a "storm" of criticism - referring to the negative media responses Spurs had when they were on a three-game losing streak earlier this month.

Having recovered from that poor run, in which they lost to Watford, Liverpool and Inter Milan, Tottenham defeated Brighton in the league and edged out a second encounter with Watford via a penalty shoot-out in the League Cup third round on Wednesday.

Asked whether the Barca game would be on his mind, he said: "No, no, no, no. For us, we always take the game we have ahead and try to take the best decision to win. When you are at Tottenham, you must win. Watford, Liverpool, Inter we lost and there was a lot of criticism like it was the end of the world.

"You cannot afford to say, 'No, I'm not going to compete in this game', because you know if you don't win, the tsunami or storm is going to come. That is the truth."

Erik Lamela, on the mend following his injury problems, is fighting to convince Pochettino he is worth more than his status as an "impact substitute".

With Tottenham already six points adrift of league leaders Liverpool, selections are sure to be scrutinised closely.

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You cannot afford to say, 'No, I'm not going to compete in this game', because you know if you don't win, the tsunami or storm is going to come.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, on how every game is crucial to his side.

Exactly where Argentina winger Lamela will fit in is difficult to predict. An abdominal problem means Christian Eriksen will not travel, giving Lamela a potential chance to prove himself at the John Smith's Stadium.

"Of course you always expect from a player like Lamela to have an impact when he's on the pitch," Pochettino said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Spurs not distracted by Barca clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe