LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur will not waver from manager Mauricio Pochettino’s plan as they travel to Manchester City on Sunday seeking a victory that would fuel hopes of a first English top-flight title since 1961.
The north London club are second in the Premier League, five points behind Leicester City, and are on a roll having won their last six matches in all competitions.
They beat City 4-1 at home in September, a result Pochettino said ignited Tottenham’s season after a sluggish start, and despite heavy defeats in their last two trips to the Etihad Stadium, will go there full of belief.
”We have a plan, and that is the most important thing,“ the 43-year-old told reporters on Friday. ”When you design the plan you have to follow it, believe in it and not change it.
“I trust the players and the squad to follow it.”
Pochettino’s side are almost unrecognisable to last season when he was still embedding his high-energy philosophy at the club -- a system that requires every player to work feverishly to win back the ball when not in possession.
This season they have conceded only 19 times in 25 league games, have the best goal difference, and in striker Harry Kane and teenage midfielder Dele Alli possess two of the brightest young talents in English football.
After a 1-0 win over Watford last weekend, opposing manager Quique Sanchez Flores said it was like playing against “animals” such was the pressure his side were put under.
Pochettino liked the analogy, suggesting his side are playing like lions, but is keeping a cool head.
He played down the significance of Sunday’s clash with fourth-placed City which takes place shortly after Leicester face third-placed Arsenal.
“It’s not decisive, it’s not the last game,” he said.
”But it’s very important, we know that and they know that. After this there are 12 games left and we go into the most important period of the season.
“(What happens) between Arsenal and Leicester is not important to us. We are confident and will go to City to win.”
Tottenham are still without key defender Jan Vertonghen who is recovering from a knee injury, but Pochettino believes his replacement Kevin Wimmer can handle striker Sergio Aguero who scored all four goals in City’s 4-1 defeat of Spurs last season.
“Wimmer is a mature player and has shown a good understanding with (Toby) Alderweireld and (Eric) Dier,” he said.
Editing by Ed Osmond