Poch ready for top-four battle

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino says his side need to improve their play, ahead of a potentially crucial run of Premier League games.

Spurs had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, a result which could leave them five points adrift of the top four if Liverpool win at Swansea City on Monday evening.

And things will not get any easier for the Londoners in the next few weeks, as their next three league games see them face Manchester united, Liverpool and Arsenal.

That tough treble is already on the mind of Pochettino, who has urged his squad to give their all to try and be in top form for the tasks ahead.

He told reporters: "Of course these games will be important for us. It is important if we are going to take points and win games.

"It's true that we're going to fight, if not, it will be difficult. That's the idea, try to win games and be consistent. At the end, we have the possibility to fight for the top four."

Spurs are priced at 15/8 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, with Liverpool available at 1/6 and Arsenal 6/1.

Meanwhile, Pochettino played down the effect of flu, which saw the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and playmaker Christian Eriksen sit out the clash with the Saints on Sunday.

He added: "A few players were affected last week, but it's not an excuse, our performance wasn't the best.

"We need to be focused on improving. We must do better, play better. If we want to be in the top four, we need to improve our level."

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Pochettino laments wasteful Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino felt his side were guilty of not using the ball well enough in their 1-1 draw with his former club Southampton at St Mary's.

The hosts took a deserved early lead as Spurs central defender Davinson Sanchez diverted Ryan Bertrand's low cross into his own net.

It was to prove short lived however as Harry Kane took advantage of some static marking from a corner less than three minutes later to nod home his 99th Premier League goal.

Jack Stephens could have put the home side ahead again before half-time, while sub Erik Lamela went close late in the second period for Tottenham before Kane dragged a shot wide from ten-yards with the final scoring chance.

Pochettino felt the points dropped were down to Spurs own doing.

"We needed to move the ball quicker and create more," he said. "The result is the result because football punishes us for not using the ball.

"The game was even, we had more possession but we needed to be more aggressive and create more chances, the performance wasn't great but the pitch didn't help.

"You must give credit to the opponent, but I am not happy with our performance."

Spurs are 23/20 to win their next Premier League game at home to Man United, while they are 15/8 to finish in the top four this season.

Southampton remain in the bottom three despite collecting a point and are 9/2 to be relegated this season. His former club are winless in their past 11 Premier League game but Pochettino doesn't feel they are relegation candidates.

"It is temporary that Southampton are in the relegation zone, for sure they will push up the table. It is two points we are going to miss at the end of the season because it is so tough between six or seven teams," he added.

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Poch poised for defensive boost

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino hopes to have central defender Toby Alderweireld available for selection in the very near future.

The 28-year-old Belgium international has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since the beginning of November, but is closing in on a return and may be involved in the FA Cup fourth round tie at Newport County a week on Saturday.

Pochettino told reporters ahead of a Sunday Premier League visit to Southampton: "I think maybe if all is okay with him today, tomorrow he can integrate himself in some exercises with the group and step by step he can build his fitness to be available again.

"Tomorrow, if all is good with the scan. That is plan, he will do the warm-up with the team. The first exercise and then integrate gradually with the group.

"We'll see in the next week if he can improve step-by-step and be ready. We are going to have all the week to train and we'll see if he can arrive in a good condition to play. We'll assess him day-by-day."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is a doubt for the clash with the Saints on Sunday due to illness.

The France international will be given until Saturday to recover, with Michel Vorm waiting to step in as a replacement against the Saints.

Pochettino added: "I don't know (if he'll be fit for Sunday), difficult to say.

"We need to wait today and tomorrow and then assess him tomorrow and if he's available or not. I think it's flu or a virus."

Spurs are 13/20 to take all three points at St Mary's and are 15/2 to claim a 2-0 victory, with striker Harry Kane available at 8/11 to score at any time in the game.

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Poch: Kane deserves his records

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has been back to break all Premier League goalscoring records, having netted twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Everton at Wembley.

England star Kane took his top-flight tally to 98 with his double, moving him one past the Spurs Premier League record previously held by Teddy Sheringham.

And head coach Mauricio Pochettino expect there to be plenty more to come from Kane in the coming years, with the all-time Spurs league scoring record held by the legendary Jimmy Greaves on 220.

He told BT Sport: "Harry Kane is such a talented player, so professional and I am very happy. He deserves all the credit and a lot of praise.

"In this way he will break all the records in the Premier League. The good thing is Jimmy Greaves' record is far (away), so not every week he is going to break something."

Meanwhile, Pochettino was also delighted with the overall performance of his side, who have re-energised their season by taking 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six league games.

He added to BBC Sport: "It was a massive performance, fantastic. I am so pleased and congratulations to our players because the effort was fantastic.

"The three points are important because the top four is so tough. The performance was very good, the players showed great character and I don't think we conceded a shot on target."

Tottenham, currently fifth in the table, are available at 1/1 to finish in the top four, with Liverpool priced at 4/11 and Arsenal 11/4.

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Kane double sends Spurs through

Harry Kane scored two in three minutes to end any threat of Wembley jitters as Tottenham progressed through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Spurs beat League One AFC Wimbledon 3-0, Kane's goals being added to by Jan Vertonghen to ensure a comfortable victory in the end.

However, all the goals came in the second half, with Neal Ardley's side frustrating their Premier League opposition for just over an hour.

They had a good chance of their own to open the scoring, Jimmy Abdou's shot being palmed onto the crossbar by Michel Vorm.

However, any Wembley nerves were calmed just after the hour mark when Moussa Sissoko got free on the right and his low cross was bundled into the net by Kane.

He made it 2-0 shortly afterwards when Kyle Walker-Peters got into the area and his shot was deflected into the path of Kane who calmly guided the ball home.

Vertonghen made it three on 71 minutes with the Dons losing possession in their own half, the defender unleashing a shot from over 20 yards out which caught a deflection, giving the keeper no chance.

So, Spurs are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and, in fifth place in the league they are back in Premier League action next weekend with a home match against Everton.

They are 2/9 to win with the Toffees 10/1 and the draw priced at 11/2.

Spurs are 5/4 to finish in the top four and qualify again for the Champions League.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino paid tribute to Wimbledon after the game. He told the BBC: "It was a difficult game. Wimbledon played so well. They had a few chances which they could have scored from. It was a solid performance from us.

"The second half was difficult – they started well and had some chances. We scored then and again quick and the game was over.

"We are happy because we're in the draw. We hope to get a home draw. The team deserves this. This is a competition we'll like to go far in. In my opinion I try to put out the best side to play."

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Pochettino cools top-four talk

Mauricio Pochettino says it is too early to talk about Tottenham's top-four hopes after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham at Wembley.

Spurs were forced to come behind to earn a point in the London derby on Thursday with Heung-min Son's stunning equaliser cancelling out Pedro Obiang's thunderbolt.

Pochettino's team earned 10 points from their four Premier League fixtures over the festive period and are fifth in the table, three points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool who are two behind Chelsea in third.

Spurs, who won 2-0 at Swansea City on Tuesday, are 8/1 to win the FA Cup and 5/4 to finish in the top four this season while Liverpool can be backed at 1/3 and sixth-placed Arsenal at 11/4.

"I am not thinking [about top four], I am not worried," insisted Pochettino after the match. "We are in the middle of the season. I think we are close. We missed the opportunity today but I think we are close.

"I'm happy with the performance and the effort after 48 hours to play two games. It was fantastic.

"Nothing to say. I'm very pleased with all of the players and only sometimes you need some luck to open the game, like it was against Southampton.

"I think it was a similar game. One was 5-2 and another was 1-1."

Poch hopes for Kane recovery

Mauricio Pochettino hopes to have star striker Harry Kane available to start when Tottenham Hotspur play host to West Ham on Thursday evening.

The England ace came on as a substitute 22 minutes from time in the 2-0 win at Swansea City on Tuesday, having been struggling with illness prior to the game.

However, head coach Pochettino is hopeful another day of rest will allow Kane to recover enough to regain his starting spot from Fernando Llorente, who netted the opener for Spurs against his former club at the Liberty Stadium.

He told Sky Sports: "We saw it was difficult for him (Kane) to run, but I think it was a good training session for him to prepare for the next game.

"We hope he will be well in the next 24 hours and he can be ready to play against West Ham."

Kane had scored back-to-back hat-tricks against Burnley and Southampton before his limited outing against the Swans.

The 24-year-old is priced at 8/15 to be the leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season, with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah available at 9/2 and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling 20/1.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has admitted that he is concerned about the fresh knee injury sustained by left-back Danny Rose, which has kept him out of action since Boxing Day.

The Argentinian added: "After the game against Southampton it was impossible to train and now we are going to assess him. I am concerned about everyone when they cannot be available to play.

"Always you are worried because you want the players available and fit to play, so you can make your decision. But we need to wait and we will assess him in the next few days."

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London Boys are Ready, So are You Up for Live Betting Fun?

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United

The big matches just keep on coming, and we’ve got another belter for you as Spurs entertain West Ham, just two days after both bagged crucial Premier League wins.

It’s been a busy Christmas period with top-flight football games daily, but after two big victories, Spurs and West Ham will be right up for another battle.

The hosts are strong favourites to win, at betting odds of 1.88 with a -1.50 goals handicap, and the Hammers are at 2.05 with +1.50 start. So we expect a home win, but David Moyes’ Hammers will have plenty to say about that.

Andy Carroll scored a dramatic last-gasp winner against West Brom and Moyes has got his team going, winning three in seven, although they still sit precariously a single point above the drop zone.

What they’d do for another result straight away! But Spurs have six wins in seven, with four consecutive victories at home. They beat Swansea to move within touching distance of fourth-placed Liverpool after Harry Kane climbed off his sickbed to deliver a beauty of a long ball for Dele Alli to finish. And if King Harry still has the sniffles, Mauricio Pochettino has a back-up at his disposal—Kane’s replacement, Fernando Llorente, scored the crucial opener against his former club at the Liberty Stadium.

So there’s quite an incentive for both teams; and if the last two meetings are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat. There have been goals aplenty, Tottenham winning 3-2 at the London Stadium in September and the Hammers dumping Spurs out of the EFL Cup by the same scoreline a month later.

It all bodes well for another cracker!

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Kane on course to face Swans

Mauricio Pochettino is confident that Harry Kane will be able to play in Tottenham's Premier League match against Swansea City on Tuesday.

The striker appears to have shaken off a bug in time to feature in the game against a Swans side that secured a thrilling last-gasp win at Watford on Saturday and are now 2/7 to be relegated this season.

Kane, who scored hat-tricks against Burnley and Southampton last month, had been at home suffering from a cold over the weekend, putting his participation in the games against Swansea and West Ham two days later in doubt.

Pochettino said: "Now, of course, there's a lot of competition in the squad because it's only Toby [Alderweireld] who is still out.

"To be available in a very busy schedule, always it is important to have everyone available again to play."

Victor Wanyama could feature against Swansea as he has returned to training although Pochettino may opt to keep the former Southampton star back until the weekend FA Cup clash against AFC Wimbledon.

Mousa Dembele is not expected to play against Swansea after sustaining a knock in the 5-2 win over Southampton. Harry Winks is expected to replace him.

Spurs, 1/3 to beat Swansea on Tuesday are 8/1 to win the FA Cup this season and 1/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

Poch: Kane is world’s best

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Harry Kane is currently the best striker in the world in the wake of latest hat-trick.

The England forward netted his second treble in four days – his eighth of the year for Tottenham in all competitions – in a 5-2 Boxing Day win over Southampton at Wembley.

It took Kane's total to 39 Premier League goals in 2017, breaking Alan Shearer's record for goals scored in a calendar year in the process.

Kane ends 2017 with 56 goals to his name in only 52 matches for club and country, more than any other player in Europe's top-five leagues.

His club manager has no doubts that Kane is the best in the world, on current form.

"First of all I want to congratulate Harry Kane, a massive achievement for him, well deserved," Pochettino said.

"And we are all so, so, so, so happy because it's an amazing thing to celebrate. For me, he's world class.

"I think today, (number) one striker in the world, specific position, who's better than him?"

Kane, now 8/15 to finish as leading scorer in the Premier League this season, deserves all the plaudits that come his way, says his manager.

"He deserves everything. It's been nine years between [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi, and now Kane's name is there. It's a fantastic achievement and I'm so happy for him," Pochettino added.

"I'd like to congratulate him. Well done. It's not surprising to us because every day we see how he works, the determination, how professional he is and how he takes care of himself."

Spurs are 15/2 in the betting without Manchester City Premier League outright market, while they are 11/10 to finish in the top four this season.

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