Tottenham vs Arsenal: Wembley pain can inspire Spurs, says Mauricio Pochettino

Spurs lost 2-0 to Chelsea in last year's final

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The Independent Online

Mauricio Pochettino hopes that the image of Chelsea lifting the Capital One Cup at Wembley seven months ago is still burnt into the memory of his players.

Tottenham start their new League Cup campaign this evening, hosting north London rivals Arsenal. It is a game which needs no extra motivation, but Pochettino believes his young team have learnt from the disappointment of last spring, and can use that tonight and for the rest of the season.

“It is important to show respect,” Pochettino said yesterday, explaining why he made his team watch Chelsea’s celebrations. “When you lose it is a good lesson to stay to see the trophy. You know that you had the possibility 90 minutes before to take the trophy. You can always learn from the defeat and this is the feeling you don’t want to repeat again. It is a good  lesson for us.

“I think it was a very good experience for us,” Pochettino said of last season’s Capital One Cup run. “The feeling was bad when we lost the final, but that is a good thing, because you need to learn. And when you start to be involved in the competition, like tomorrow, it is important to feel the [same] feeling that you feel in the final: to stay very focused, and very motivated, because they are important games.”

No game is more important to Spurs than taking on  Arsenal, and Pochettino knows that his side can win. When they last met, in February, Harry Kane scored twice as Spurs triumphed 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Pochettino would not be drawn into comparisons with Arsenal – although after consecutive defeats it is surely a good time to play them – but said beating them always has a “massive effect” on players and fans.

“It’s very important to win the game, because it’s a special game,” said Pochettino, who knows a thing or two about derbies. “Beat Arsenal and it is a big impact for us. And after, we need to follow because it’s Manchester City, Monaco and Swansea. But it’s true that this is special for our people and for us it’s special, too. You can feel it in the changing room, in the training.”

Pochettino will make some changes this evening, with Erik Lamela and Toby Alderweireld expected to be rested and Christian Eriksen and Andros Townsend likely to start. Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, is set to put youngsters Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara on the bench. Francis Coquelin is out, Per Mertesacker is available again and Gabriel can play, after having his red card from Saturday’s defeat at Chelsea overturned yesterday.

Wenger is likely to bring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back into the team after a mixed season so far, and urged the England midfielder to have more faith in his  ability if he is to fulfil his obvious potential.

“It is a massive season for Alex,” Wenger said. “It is a very important season because of the nature he is growing. You feel the evolution has a sense of responsibility. I think Alex must believe more in himself. He must believe more in his talent and that will help him develop. I think sometimes he is too critical of himself. I would like him to play with the freedom and express the desire of his talent.”

Wenger is likely to bring Olivier Giroud back into the team, and while it has been a difficult start for the France striker, the manager backed him to come good.

“Giroud is a guy who has a positive attitude, who is ready to have a go,” he said. “He is a very strong man and with his back to the wall Giroud can always respond.”

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