Mauricio Pochettino insists there will be no let-up in Tottenham’s motivation as they prepare to host Southampton on Sunday.
Spurs’ Premier League title challenge ended in acrimonious fashion on Monday as they were held to an ill-tempered 2-2 draw with Chelsea, a result which ensured leaders Leicester City cannot be caught.
Both teams have been hit with FA charges for failing to control their players as a result of a number of melees during and after the match, with Mousa Dembele facing a lengthy ban for an unpleasant eye-poke on Diego Costa.
But with second place still not yet assured – rivals Arsenal are just three points behind – Pochettino is eager to avoid any further loss of control from his players as they look to seal victory against his old club, who have won five of their last seven in the league.
“We have the same motivation for the next two games,” he said on Friday. “We want to keep second place.
“To finish in the top four is fantastic because this was our goal. I remember last season we said our ambition was to reduce the gap to the top four. Now we are in the top four.
“We feel disappointed because it was a good opportunity to win the league but the way we fight, we can be proud of our players and we will fight next season for the same prize.”
Southampton dispatched Manchester City 4-2 last weekend and boast a run of just two defeats in their last eight games away from home, a run which has helped to propel them back into Europa League contention.
Ronald Koeman’s side could surpass their best-ever points tally of 60 – which was set last season – should they end a run of seven games without a win in meetings against Spurs this weekend.
The Saints boss does not expect Spurs to pose any less of a threat after their Chelsea meltdown, however, and is relishing what he believes will be a close encounter between two exceptional teams.
“I expect them to be strong,” he said. “They had a big disappointment last Monday – it was a tough match, maybe both teams were a little bit too worked up.
“It’s a fantastic game. Some teams play fantastic football: one of them is Tottenham, one is Southampton. That makes it nice, because it makes it all about football.”
Dembele is set to miss the game due to suspension, along with Dele Alli, while Pochettino has concerns over Danny Rose (hamstring) and Toby Alderweireld (knee). Koeman, however, expects to have a full squad to choose from.
Key Opta Stats:
– Tottenham have lost none of their last seven Premier League matches at White Hart Lane, winning five.
– Spurs have won a league-high 19 points from losing positions this season, but they have also lost 17 points from leading positions, an amount only lower than Liverpool (19) and Everton (18).
– Only Darren Anderton (14 in 1994-95) has provided more assists in a single Premier League season for Tottenham than Christian Eriksen has in this campaign (13).
– Sadio Mane has scored seven goals in his last six Premier League games for Southampton; this after a run of 19 league appearances without finding the back of the net.
– Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances for Spurs.