Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham must accept inevitable difficult periods during the season as they attempt to keep their Premier League title bid on track at rock-bottom Aston Villa.
Spurs’ form has taken a dip over the last three matches with a 1-0 loss at West Ham preventing them going top of the table, while they could only draw 2-2 at home with 10-man Arsenal in a pulsating north London derby last weekend.
Those dropped points have left them five adrift of leaders Leicester City and their hopes of progressing beyond the last 16 of the Europa League were all but ended in Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund.
Pochettino conceded after the Dortmund setback, his 100th game in charge of the club, that Tottenham were far from their best, but the Argentine is unconcerned by Spurs’ mini slump ahead of a trip to Villa Park.
“I am not worried, I know the circumstances,” said Pochettino, who was named Premier League Manager of the Month for February. “We need to accept some periods during 10 months that we will have good and bad times.
“We have always had things good, it has only been in the last few games not so much. The players are very sad, but we have to take the positives.”
Tottenham have the perfect opportunity to return to winning ways in Sunday’s contest against a Villa side cut adrift, nine points from safety.
Villa head into the contest on a four-match losing streak in which they have conceded 15 goals.
Furthermore, Spurs defeated Villa 3-1 in November’s reverse fixture on the day that Remi Garde was appointed as successor to Tim Sherwood and are unbeaten in their past eight visits to Villa Park.
Garde conceded his side have made no progress since he replaced the former Spurs boss, but borrowed the “Yes We Can” slogan from Barack Obama’s US presidential election campaign to show his faith they can pull off an unlikely escape.
“Yes we can [stay up],” he said. “I know it’s a famous saying, but I am not a political man.
“If you look at Leicester last season they started to win now – won seven, drew one and lost one. Why can’t we do that?
“We have shown very poor football in previous games, but in football you never know how things can go.”
The hosts are expected to name the same squad from last week’s 4-0 loss at Manchester City, with Jack Grealish, Libor Kozak (both ankle), Carlos Sanchez (hamstring), Jordan Amavi (knee) and Adama Traore (foot) all out.
Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N’Jie (both knee) are still absent for Spurs, but Danny Rose (calf) and Eric Dier (knock) should play having sat out versus Dortmund.
Key Opta stats:
– Tottenham have lost none of their last eight trips to Villa Park in all competitions (W6 D2 L0).
– There have been red cards in three of the last five Premier League meetings between these two sides at Villa Park.
– Spurs have won a league-high 18 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.
– Harry Kane has scored 16 goals in his last 20 Premier League appearances for Spurs, two more than Aston Villa (14) have in their last 20 Premier League games.
– This is Spurs’ best points tally from their opening 29 matches of a Premier League season (55).
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