Pochettino urges his Tottenham team to “play like lions”

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Image: SpursWeb

Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham to play like lions as they bid to take down Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Spurs sit second in the table and can move four points clear of Manuel Pellegrini’s side with a victory this weekend.

Pochettino’s men are in excellent form, having won their last six consecutive matches in all competitions and they will take confidence from a 4-1 victory against City back in September.

After a dominant display against Watford last Saturday, Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores described Tottenham as “like animals” and Pochettino was happy to extend the analogy ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash.

“I want them to play like lions, this is what all managers want and expect from their players, to feel and play,” Pochettino said.

“This is our challenge, to try to keep the same intensity in every game, and same level of our fitness. This is one of our challenges for the next period, the next three months.”

While Pochettino’s stock continues to rise at White Hart Lane, Pellegrini’s time at Manchester City is coming to an end after it was announced Pep Guardiola will be in charge of the Blues next season.

City’s 3-1 defeat to surprise leaders Leicester last weekend has raised questions about how the squad will react to Pellegrini’s impending departure and Pochettino feels sympathy for the Chilean.

“It is difficult to guess if the effect will be positive or negative in a short time,” Pochettino said.

“It is true that it is a difficult time for Pellegrini, for Manuel. I try to show and send my solidarity and to be with him.

“He is one of the best managers in the world and I know now is not an easy period for him. I respect Pellegrini much more than before because now he is in a situation that is very difficult.

“He is a strong man. He showed his quality like a manager and I wish him all the best. He has all my respect, more than before.”

This weekend could prove pivotal in the title race, with third-placed Arsenal hosting Leicester earlier in the day.

The success of Leicester and Spurs at the expense of their more established rivals has come as a surprise but Pochettino does not believe Sunday’s results will be decisive in the title race.

“It is true we have a different plan,” Pochettino said.

“I think Leicester’s is different to Tottenham’s and both can work. For us it is a very important game against Man City but nothing will change.

“The result at Manchester City will not change the future, the final position of the table. It is an important game but it is not decisive.”

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