Mauricio Pochettino’s Press Conference: Watford vs Tottenham

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 4: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during a press conference at the clubs' training ground on November 4, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
ENFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 4: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during a press conference at the clubs' training ground on November 4, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images) /

Tottenham manager, Mauricio Pochettino, spoke with the press to preview his side’s match against Watford on New Year’s Day.

Beginning his press conference as he normally does, Mauricio Pochettino provided the media with updates on both Toby Alderweireld and Érik Lamela’s status.

For Alderweireld, he has recovered from a virus (illness) that he suffered a day before Tottenham’s match against Southampton. As for Lamela, he’s still recovering his fitness levels. He doesn’t appear to be injured anymore, he just needs to get back to match fitness is all.

“He [Toby Alderweireld] trained well today, he’s recovered from the virus that he got one day before the game against Southampton and we hope that he will be available for Watford, but today he is okay.” Mauricio Pochettino began (via Spurs’ official website).

“Lamela is still recovering from his problem, he is doing well but now we need to wait for him to recover his fitness and his level. There are no other problems.”

So with the new year days away, it seems that the only player who is still not ready to play is Érik Lamela. Only having one player miss out on yet another game through an injury/fitness levels isn’t so bad. Considering the rash of injuries that have plagued Tottenham a couple of months back.

Therefore, against Watford who are currently in 10th-place, Pochettino will mostly have his entire squad fit, minus the aforementioned Érik Lamela and Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker who will miss this game due to yellow card accumulation.

Now you’d expect Spurs to semi-rotate with Chelsea looming four days later but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Mauricio Pochettino is going all out against the Hornets and isn’t thinking about the reverse fixture against Chelsea on January 4th.

“No because for us the most important game is Watford,” Pochettino said about not playing a weakened starting XI on New Year’s Day.

“It’s important to try to reduce the gap to the top four [or] in the end keep the same gap. We need to be focused on Watford because they are the most important [opponents] now for us.”

By doing this, Pochettino runs the risk of fielding a tired unit at White Hart Lane when Antonio Conte and company visit. That won’t do when it comes to closing a 10-point gap from the league leaders, but the Argentine manager is ever so optimistic as the season is still far from over.

“I think that it’s a long way ahead, it will be tough for all the contenders.” Mauricio Pochettino explained. “Chelsea have a very big gap now with second [Liverpool] and 10 points with us but I think it’s not decisive.”

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“We need to believe, we are fighting to try to reduce the gap and we have a very good opportunity when we play them but first of all we must win against Watford, a very important three points and then we’ll see what happens with the other teams that are against us.”

“It’s a lot of games ahead, it’s nearly the halfway point of the season and it’s a long way [to go].”

A win against Watford will see Tottenham begin the new year with 39 points and continue their climb up the Premier League table. Although points were dropped from October through November, Spurs have managed to fight back and are within striking distance of fourth place at the halfway mark of the season.

Though despite some good results lately, Mauricio Pochettino isn’t able to judge how his team’s season has gone. That’s not to say he doesn’t know, but he’s only focused on the task at hand. And that’s beating Watford.

“It’s up to you how you want to judge the season. It’s difficult to judge.” Pochettino said.

“If we compare it with last season, at this point we have four more points than last season but we are fifth and last season we were fourth. Maybe the people have different opinions.”

“For different reasons that we know inside, in the first period of the season we feel disappointed because we are out of the Champions League and we cannot hide that but I think in the Premier League we are doing well.”

“We can do better, of course, we are ambitious, of course, and we can improve but I think the expectation was massive at the beginning and to be out of the Champions League is a little bit disappointing, not only for us but our supporters too.”

“Maybe that feeling is not so good to show the numbers because in 2016 I think we broke the record of 71 points [in a calendar year] and we can be happy but for different reasons it’s not 100 percent full happiness.”

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Whether Spurs should feel happy with how their first half of the season has gone, in terms of all competitions, then no they shouldn’t be happy because they’re out of two competitions. The Champions League and the League Cup.

But with regards to the Premier League, they have managed to keep pace with the top four despite suffering key injuries to Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Érik Lamela. Mauricio Pochettino has had to use different formations to find some sort of way to beat teams with a semi-depleted squad and players going through tough spells.

So if you look at it only through the lens of Tottenham’s domestic form — sans the League Cup — Spurs have done reasonably well. In Europe? Not so much. But they get another crack at European football when the Europa League resumes.