How important is it to maintain your recent winning momentum?
Mauricio Pochettino: “I think it’s key. It’s important to keep the momentum and try to get the three points for us to be in a good position in the table. For me, Chelsea is in the past, we are very focused and conscious that the most important game is on Saturday.”
West Brom drew with Spurs on their last visit to White Hart Lane in April. How big a challenge do you think they’ll pose this time?
Mauricio: “For me, the past is the past. That was a different season and different circumstances. Always it’s tough to play (against them), West Brom are doing a fantastic job, always it’s difficult to play against a team that is managed by Tony Pulis and it will be a tough game, a difficult game, like all the games are in the Premier League.”
Do you think this is a good chance to apply some pressure on leaders Chelsea?
Mauricio: “When you play before your opponents, always it’s a good opportunity to put pressure on. We felt that in the opposite way last season because we played after Leicester but it’s true that today we are in a different period. It’s a long, long way to the end of the season, it’s not decisive to play before or after but it’s true that at the end of the season that situation can affect you. Today it’s not an important thing.”
Would you prefer to play before or after your rivals?
Mauricio: “At the end of the season, before.”
How important is Dele Alli’s form to the team’s progress of late?
Mauricio: “Dele is performing well, scoring a lot of goals and helping the team to achieve our objectives. We have talked a lot in the last few weeks about him but I think it’s fair to talk about him because he is showing fantastic and great performances every time that he has the chance to play.”
How important is the Spurs crowd to what you’re trying to achieve on the pitch?
Mauricio: “Always our fans are very important for us. To create that atmosphere that you could see against Chelsea is a massive help for the team and yes, for me, the fans are a very important part of the club. For that reason it’s important to have a very good relationship, very good communication, make them proud and give everything in every chance we have to play. I think it’s important for every club.”
How close is Marcus Edwards to being fit and can he play a part in the first team squad this season?
Mauricio: “Always it’s up to the player. It’s true that he’s still recovering and he is very close to starting to train with the team again.”
Are you using the match-free midweeks to do extra work on the training ground?
Mauricio: “It’s a good opportunity when you have the possibility to work to improve different aspects of the team, but not too much extra (work) because after Christmas we can work but not too much. It’s not only that you need to care for the players’ bodies, also their minds. All players in the Premier League suffered a lot in that period and for that reason, now is a moment to work with not quantity, more quality and not too much extra.”
Does that help in a game against West Brom where fine margins can decide the outcome?
Mauricio: “It will be a difficult game. If you saw the games that West Brom played against Chelsea, Arsenal or different teams, they were very well-organised. We expect a very tough game and it’s sure that they will put us in a very difficult situation with no space to play. It will be difficult to find that space to create a lot of chances but we have time to work and we’ll see what happens. We are focused, we know how we need to play and then (it’s about) trying to deliver it and trying to find that space on the pitch to try to create a lot of chances, but in the Premier League it’s always tough to find the space to play.”
In view of where Spurs are in the table, are you ahead of schedule this season?
Mauricio: “I don’t know. We are in a good position, a position where we can fight and challenge for big things – that is most important. Then if we are ahead or not, it’s too difficult to say yes or no but the most important thing is that we are involved now in three competitions and that we can go further and try to challenge to win titles. That is the most important thing for me.”
Do you feel that you have all the various positions in your squad covered in depth?
Mauricio: “I think that we’ve built a squad with (which) we can play in different shapes, with different formations that we can use and that is important for us. We are in a moment now where we can be flexible in different opportunities. During the game against Aston Villa we changed our formation in the last 20 minutes and that is very important. I am happy with my squad.”
Are there any injuries to report?
Mauricio: “Only Erik Lamela and Marcus Edwards still have problems.”
Was the Chelsea result a psychological boost for Spurs?
Mauricio: “Yes, but remember a few months ago after City? I think now is a moment to show that we’ve learned. We have in front of us a very tough game and we need to show that we learned about a few months ago. If you remember, our performances dropped a little bit after a fantastic victory. Now after Chelsea it’s a great opportunity to show that we deserve it and to keep the momentum for us will be key.”
Have you noticed a greater maturity in the squad this time around?
Mauricio: “I was very pleased after Chelsea because it wasn’t our best game but we competed and maybe we missed that a little bit last season – to compete better in some games. Today it’s about maturity, it’s about learning, about experience. It doesn’t mean that we will win every game but it’s important to show that maturity that we showed against Chelsea. It’s important now to try to be more realistic and try to fight for bigger objectives.”
Is patience going to be important against West Brom on Saturday?
Mauricio: “Yes, one of the keys is to be patient, try to move the ball quickly and try to find space to move them. They will play very deep, they’ll try to play on the counter-attack and with set pieces and it’s important for us to be patient, to try to handle the ball in a better way, try to avoid the counter-attack and try to find gaps to create chances.”
Is it important to be mentally strong having struggled against West Brom in recent seasons?
Mauricio: “For me the past is the past. We need to put that idea away. I am very focused on this season, this will be a different game. It’s true that maybe you could relate to that result in the past but for me I don’t care about that – it’s a new game, a different game, a different period and I think it will be tough because West Brom are doing great, (they are having) a fantastic season so far and in the Premier League it’s always difficult to play every team.”
Has the change of scenery in Rome helped Erik Lamela’s recovery and what’s the latest on him?
Mauricio: “Every day we have information, he is doing well but we cannot push too much because it’s about time for him to recover. Our idea is maybe (he will spend) one week more there and then (he’ll come) back to London so we can see which level (he is at) and start to build his fitness for him to try to help the team as soon as possible. It’s difficult to say (when he will be back), I don’t want to guess again.”