Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham to win all five of their final Premier League games to maximise their title chances – starting with Monday’s trip to Stoke City.
A 3-0 home win over Manchester United moved Spurs back to within seven points of league leaders Leicester City last weekend, ensuring their championship hopes remain intact.
Pochettino’s side are unbeaten in the league since a 1-0 loss to West Ham at the beginning of March, but recent draws with Arsenal and Liverpool have allowed Leicester to open up a gap at the top of the table thanks to the Foxes’ five wins in succession.
And the former Southampton manager is keen for Spurs to orchestrate a similar run of results in order to put the pressure on the leaders in the final few weeks.
“It’s difficult because Monday is not a day that all people want to play on,” Pochettino told the club’s official website. “But we’re very focused on our job. We know that we have five games ahead and it’s important to try to win the five.
“Our objective is to win the title, this is the dream. But we know we need to fight a lot and have some luck.
“I have full respect for Mark Hughes, I think he’s one of the best … managers, and I like the combination in the way Stoke play. They have very good players and the club has changed its philosophy in the last few years. It will be a very tough game.”
Spurs surrendered a 2-0 lead in the reverse fixture in August thanks to two Stoke goals in five second-half minutes, but the home side’s patchy form means they are far from favourites for Monday’s game.
With just one win in their last five and off the back of a 4-1 loss to Liverpool at Anfield last week, Hughes’ side are five points adrift of the top six and face a battle to keep their slim Europa League qualification hopes alive.
“After the last two games we have made Europe a lot more difficult. Teams around us have games in hand and are picking up points so it will be a tough ask for us now,” Hughes said.
“There are five games to go and we want to finish in the right manner. Last weekend wasn’t what we were hoping for, but we will be stronger on Monday.
“We will bounce back from last week. We are coming up against a very consistent side, who have lost fewer games than anybody else, which is why they are pushing for the title.”
Erik Pieters is banned for Stoke, who are hoping to have Marc Muniesa (knock), Glenn Whelan (back) and Marko Arnautovic (knee) available for selection. Jack Butland, Jonathan Walters, Marc Wilson and Glen Johnson (all knee) are out.
Spurs hope to have Harry Kane and Clinton N’Jie fully fit for the trip to the Britannia Stadium, with Nabil Bentaleb (knee) their only notable absentee.
Key Opta Stats:
– No visiting team has won more often at the Britannia Stadium than Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League (four, along with Chelsea & Man Utd). A victory would mean Spurs have taken more points than any other away team on this ground.
– The Potters have won only five of their 15 Premier League meetings with Spurs (W5 D3 L7), but on four of those occasions the Lilywhites have had players sent off.
– There have been seven red cards in seven Premier League games between Spurs and Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, with only one of those matches not seeing a dismissal.
– Tottenham have lost just one of their last 15 Premier League away matches (W8 D6 L1).
– Tottenham’s next Premier League away defeat will be their 200th – only Everton (200) and Newcastle United (204) have lost more on the road in the competition.
– Marko Arnautovic has been involved in 15 goals in the Premier League this season (scored 10, assisted five), more than any other Stoke player in a single PL campaign.
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