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Arsenal v Spurs - Mauricio's press conference

Posted on 4 November 2016  - 17:00

Mauricio Pochettino provided updates on the fitness of several players at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal this afternoon (Friday, November 4). Here’s a look at what he had to say...

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Is Harry Kane fit enough to be included in the squad on Sunday?
Mauricio Pochettino: “Yes. Today I can confirm he will be available to be selected for Sunday and now I need to decide if he will be in the starting XI or on the bench. We are very happy after yesterday, he had a very good training session and he’s fit.”

How much of a boost will Harry’s return be?
Mauricio: “It’s always important. In the last few seasons he was very important for us, he was the top scorer in the Premier League and always the player that was the last top scorer in the Premier League, when he’s fit, is important for any club. Of course, for us it’s very good news and it’s good that he will be back.”

Harry has scored a lot against Arsenal in recent seasons too…
Mauricio: “That is true. It’s important that he is back and can help the team to take a good result.”

What’s the news on Toby Alderweireld?
Mauricio: “Toby is struggling a little bit to recover but will be available after the international break. He is not in the Belgium squad now, he is very close but it’s a very slow recovery, it’s a very painful thing that happened.”

What about Mousa Dembele after he was substituted against Bayer Leverkusen?
Mauricio: “I can only say that he’s a doubt. We need to assess him tomorrow and then decide. It’s not a big deal but it’s painful in his ankle. We need to assess him tomorrow and he’s a doubt for Sunday.”

Is this a good or bad time to be playing Arsenal?
Mauricio: “You never know if it’s a good or bad time to play. I will tell you after the game because in football anything can happen! It’s true that we are not in a positive situation, in the six games after Manchester City we have struggled to win games - four draws and two defeats. We are very conscious about that, we need to work hard and try more than before. We are in a difficult moment but in football you always need to be ready to change the dynamic and we have a very good opportunity on Sunday to go to the Emirates and try to win the game.”

Is there extra motivation for the players to try to defend the only unbeaten record in the Premier League?
Mauricio: “It will be an exciting game for us and for them too. It’s a game that we can imagine but maybe it will be different in reality. It will be tough for both teams. It’s true that for them it’s a big challenge to beat us and for us it’s a very good challenge to try to win at the Emirates. It is my third season that we are going, (we’ve had) two draws and it’s a good moment to try to win the game.”

What are the players’ confidence levels like after the recent run of results?
Mauricio: “It’s true that maybe we are not so confident like after Manchester City but when you are involved in football you know it’s about emotion. When you win, you are always at the top of your emotions and mental level but now it’s a good test for us to try to change that dynamic. In football it always happens but it’s a period that, to be honest, I like, where you have that type of moment to learn, to improve.”

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Is the recent lack of goals a concern for you?
Mauricio: “We assess every game and it’s true that we need to improve in that area. It’s not a concern, we are focused now to work a little bit more to try to create more chances because it’s not enough, we need to increase our percentage in front of goal but the only way that can happen is if we create more chances and we have more control of the game.”

Can you speak about Dele Alli’s recent form?
Mauricio: “I am happy with Dele but he is still very young, he’s 20 years old, it’s his second season in the Premier League and many things happened last season. Sometimes he needs to breathe a little bit, he cannot keep the level in every game and then there are many reasons that something happens - (players) have some problems, illness, sometimes they’re not at their best because they are human, but I am very happy with him.”

Do you think the month of November is going to be a critical period for the club?
Mauricio: “A critical time for us was May or the end of April, a critical period last season. Many things can happen, it depends on how you are. For us it was very difficult after Manchester City last month, we had many, many small problems where it was difficult to keep our level. That happened in October but maybe November and December will be fantastic for us - you never know.”

Is Erik Lamela available for the trip to Arsenal?
Mauricio: “No, he is out for Sunday.”

How much of a risk will it be if you play Harry Kane on Sunday after his injury?
Mauricio: “It’s not a risk. You need to understand that after two-and-a-half years here we try to avoid risks. If he is on the pitch or on the bench you can be sure that it’s not a risk to play. In football you cannot avoid all the risks because it’s a contact sport and you cannot avoid risks 100 per cent but if the doctor says he’s available to be selected it’s because there’s no risk about him being injured.”

How will you handle the players after the disappointment of the Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen?
Mauricio: “It’s a completely different game, we cannot compare it with another competition like the Champions League. It’s true, we are very disappointed with the performance on Wednesday, we were very critical about that. We all know that we were poor, that is the truth and we cannot play in that way against Arsenal but it’s a very different game. It’s a different competition and it will be a completely different game on Sunday.”