Although Tottenham Hotspur being knocked out of the Europa League by AEL Limassol at White Hart Lane would not be the cup upset of the week, head coach Mauricio Pochettino is keen for his players not to emulate Manchester United’s dismal result in Milton Keynes.
Pochettino was at the Capital One Cup game on Tuesday to see Louis van Gaal’s side humbled 4-0 by their League One opponents and he used yesterday’s pre-match press conference to make clear to his players that complacency was not an option.
“I believe that it will be a tough game because all games are difficult,” Pochettino said.
“Yesterday it was difficult for Manchester United and you need to be focused on your objective. There is never an easy adversary, and never an easy game.”
Tottenham have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Cyprus, and it would certainly be a shock if they are not in tomorrow’s draw for the Europa League group stage.
This is also the first game of a new era for Tottenham; the first since the departure of club captain Michael Dawson to Hull City this week, and the first since the arrival of Dawson’s replacement, Federico Fazio from Seville.
Fazio, whose capture for £8m on a four-year deal, was announced Wednesday night, is not eligible for tonight’s game but the Argentina defender will be an important player this season, along with other senior centre-backs Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen.
Pochettino, speaking before Fazio’s arrival was confirmed, said of Dawson’s departure after nearly 10 years: “We decided with Michael it was the best thing for him because he was not playing regular games. It will be a good thing for him.”
Pochettino will make a new appointment as Spurs captain at the end of the transfer window. Hugo Lloris and Kaboul have worn the armband so far this season.
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