Football

Spurs manager Pochettino eyes Man City scalp

Spurs manager believes his in-form side can defeat EPL leaders this weekend

Mauricio Pochettino will be heading into the weekend clash with Premier League leaders Manchester City in a buoyant mood, having recovered from a wretched November run to return to the top four.

Their fine December form continued yesterday morning (Singapore time), when they defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 to take their Premiership tally to seven points from three matches.

The win propelled them to fourth in the standings, ahead of Liverpool and Burnley on goal difference.

No wonder the optimism was almost palpable at the Wembley Stadium yesterday, as Pochettino enthused at the chance of pitting his team against Pep Guardiola's runaway leaders on Sunday morning.

Said the 45-year-old Argentinian: "I am a positive person. I am happy we won and the three points are so important for us.

"What is going to happen on Saturday? Who knows? I am going to Manchester to try to win and thinking that we can win.

"We have had three victories in a row - one in the Champions League, two in the Premier League - and it's important for us to feel we can get higher in the table because the season is still so long.

"You start to lose when you start to think in a negative way. We are going to enjoy it because it's a fantastic challenge to play against Manchester City.

"We are going to play against, I think this year, the best team in England and one of the best teams in Europe.

"I want it to excite the players. I want to play against teams with managers like (Pep) Guardiola who are the best. I am so excited, so motivated, so happy that we are playing a team that is the best."

Yesterday, Serge Aurier's freakish first goal for Tottenham after 40 minutes broke the deadlock, his cross going straight into the net to break Brighton's dogged resistance.

A deflected header by Son Heung Min - his first ever headed goal for Spurs - three minutes from time sealed the three points.

The only negative note struck by Pochettino came when he was asked whether Dele Alli had been unhappy to start on the bench.

"Come on," said the Spurs manager. "With Tottenham, it's a specialism to create problems.

"He was on the bench and played 20 minutes. How would any player react? Sure, no one is happy to be on the bench. That is football. Better to talk about Son deserving to score. He's happy."

Pochettino welcomed the performance of Erik Lamela on his first start since October 2016 following two operations on a troublesome hip, but admitted fortune had been with his side in Aurier's goal.

"Yes, of course, (the luck) helped a lot," said Pochettino, whose side trail third-placed Chelsea by four points.

"When the opponents are so deep and play only to defend, it's not easy. The team created a lot of chances and deserved to score before (Aurier's goal), but that's football.

"We fought hard and I'm very happy with the victory and the performance generally was good." - WIRE SERVICES

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