Tottenham: Pochettino wants improvements in key area; Isco loan; derby referee announced
Mauricio Pochettino has called for his Tottenham side to be more clinical ahead of tonight’s Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley. Group E is delicately poised with only three points separating four teams. Spur?’ fate is still very much in their own hands with two of their three remaining games at home. The first game against Roger Schmidt’s side was a goalless draw in the BayArena.
Tottenham dominated the first half of the game, but the hosts came on strong in the second period and Spurs had the excellent Hugo Lloris to thank for winning them a point. The task ahead of Spurs now is to show there no jinx attached to playing a Wembley. Two wins there, starting tonight against Monaco, would take the Lillywhites to the desired total of 10 points which is usually enough to see you through. Pochettino said:
“We need to be more clinical in our offensive situation. We need to be determined and aggressive in the last third.
“It’s true that the last few weeks after the international break it was difficult for us to score. We are creating the same chances as before. But our percentage was poor in front of goal. We are working on that.”
Tottenham have struggled to score goals from open play in recent weeks, though the return of Harry Kane from an ankle injury will help them in this regard. However, the fact Spurs play two progressive, forward thinking teams this week in the shape of Leverkusen and fierce rivals Arsenal. Tottenham were superb against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and enjoy playing against teams who look to make the running and have possession of the ball. Spurs’ strength is their pressing and counter attacking from turnovers in possession; when a defence is set they don’t always have the craft and guile to break it down.
Therefore, it is no great surprise to read that Spurs are interested in taking Real Madrid midfielder Isco on loan in January. Spurs enquired about his availability last summer, but were told he was not able to leave the club. The Spain international has been on the fringes of Zinedine Zidane’s squad this season, and has only 18 months remaining on his contract. Isco would bring some welcome creativity to Pochettino’s side and help them break down deep-lying defences. Spurs had more draws than any other club last season in the Premier League, and this trend has continued this term.
Finally, it was announced today that Mark Clattenburg will referee this Sunday’s north London derby at the Emirates. The Englishman refereed the FA Cup Final, Champions League Final and European Championship final this year and is probably the Premier League’s best referee. It is a show of faith from the FA after Clattenburg was at the centre of last weekend’s controversy that saw Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho sent to the stand.
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