Mauricio Pochettino has rejected suggestions that his changes to the Tottenham team for the 1-1 draw at Brighton had cost his side two valuable points in their pursuit of automatic entry into next season’s Champions League.
Tottenham remain fourth in the Premier League table, two points behind Liverpool with four games to play, but Pochettino denied that he had picked his starting XI with an eye on Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley. Dele Alli and Davinson Sanchez were omitted among five changes to the team that had started Saturday evening’s 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City.
“I was thinking of today and trying to win,” he said. “On Saturday we finished very late and some players needed to rest. It was the moment to give some fresh legs to the team to match the opponents. We have a squad good enough to win games. Today was not because we rotated the team. Of course I am never happy when we draw but credit to Brighton.”
Saturday’s Wembley meeting with United, in fact, sounded as if it was some way down his list of priorities. “It’s the FA Cup semi-final,” he said. “If you go through and win the FA Cup you’re not going to play Champions League next season, only if you finish fourth [in the Premier League]. Of course that’s up to us. It’s important to focus on the games, every single game until the end. We have to win every single game if we want to do something important.”
Brighton manager Chris Hughton was happy with a point that moves his side eight points clear of the bottom three, but did not agree that the Seagulls are now safe. “I can’t think like that,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction, and what I was most delighted with was the character of the team to concede the way we did and then react the way we did. Our response [to Spurs’ goal] was quick and that helped the confidence in the squad.
“We were well worth the point. We showed great quality in the areas when we needed to. Against these big sides you have got to give everything and if you are below your best they can really hurt you.”
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