Pochettino demands passion play

Image: SpursWeb

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has called for his players to embrace the passion of the north London derby.

Many managers speak about the importance of remaining calm in derby fixtures, but the Argentinian will take a different approach on Saturday lunchtime when Arsenal make four-mile journey to White Hart Lane for the 175th edition of the fixture.

It is a match which offers Spurs the chance to secure a 50th league win over their near neighbours, who once again are attempting to block their path to a top-four Premier League finish.

However, rather than treating it like any other game, Pochettino says he wants his players to use the atmosphere of derby day as inspiration for victory.

“It’s impossible to take out the passion and the emotion of football,” the Spurs head coach said.

“When you play with your friends, you play because you feel the passion. Football is passion. Football is the best sport in the world because it shows emotion and you feel the passion.

“Our supporters, when they go to the stadium, it’s because they go because they feel passion.

“How can we put the passion out in our players? We need to feel the same passion because in football you need to be clever, you need to train, you need to play with your brain but also with your heart.

“You need to run, you need to be aggressive, this is about balance which is important for this type of game.”

Victory for the Capital One Cup finalists would be an important marker and would see them leapfrog Arsenal in the Premier League standings.

It would also continue their resurgence at White Hart Lane, where they have gone six league matches unbeaten after a miserable start to the campaign.

Their last loss on home soil came against Stoke on November 9, after which Emmanuel Adebayor suggested the atmosphere inside the ground meant Spurs would be better off playing away from home.

Those comments still rankle with Tottenham fans but certainly had some truth to them, with Pochettino saying the atmosphere at White Hart Lane has vastly improved since then.

“In the last few months, the energy and atmosphere has been great,” he said.

“But always when it is not, it is our fault. If we don’t give good performances, it is normal for the supporters not to be happy.

“But now after some games where we have had improved performances, our supporters are happy and proud and see the same in the team.

“It is a big change for us. It is more comfortable to play now at White Hart Lane.”

That renaissance on home turf, coupled with the fine form of the likes of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, means Spurs are in with a real chance of Champions League qualification this term.

Victory on Saturday would also boost their chances of finishing above Arsenal for the first time since 1995 – not that Pochettino is thinking that far ahead.

“I don’t think about that, so far,” he added.

“It’s important to have a very good performance on Saturday, to try to get the three points.

“We have ahead a lot of games in the Premier League over the next four months, to try to arrive as high as possible.”

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