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Tottenham are improving all the time under Mauricio Pochettino

April 17, 2017 7:42 AM
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Tottenham are improving all the time under Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham made it eight wins in a row against Bournemouth on Saturday. Regardless of whether they can catch Chelsea this season, there's no doubting they are a team on the up under Mauricio Pochettino, writes Nick Wright.

Tottenham's 4-0 victory over Bournemouth was a significant one - and not just because it closed the gap on Chelsea. With 15 wins from 17 home games, Spurs have now taken more points at White Hart Lane than in any other Premier League season. With 71 overall, they have already surpassed their total for the whole of the last campaign.

Saturday's game was about as one-sided as it gets. Eddie Howe's side were utterly overwhelmed, recording their lowest share of possession all season and mustering one shot on target to the hosts' 14. But it was nothing new. Spurs have scored four or more goals on 11 separate occasions this season. They have scored 28 in their last eight games alone.

Chelsea remain four points clear despite their defeat to Manchester United, but Tottenham have scored more goals and conceded fewer. They have created more chances and kept more clean sheets. The attention tends to gravitate elsewhere, but Spurs are on course for their best season in over half a century. Their projected points total would have won them the title last year.

Their constant improvement under Mauricio Pochettino should not be overlooked. Harry Kane and Dele Alli have led the charge on the pitch with 36 goals between them, but Tottenham's progress owes more to the man in the dugout. Without the budget of his rivals, Pochettino has brought the best out of what he's got. Instead of buying stars, he's moulded them on the training field.

It is a triumph of coaching. His starting line-up against Bournemouth featured eight players who have been at the club since the very start of his tenure. From Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen to Kane and Christian Eriksen, every one of them has improved under his guidance. In Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Heung-Min Son, the pattern is the same.

"I have to give Mauricio Pochettino a lot of credit because that team is well coached," said Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry on Saturday. "You can see that they work a lot in training tactically. Every time they play you can see they know what they have to do. Pochettino did it at Southampton, he did it with Espanyol, and once again he's doing it here."

According to Premier League tracking data, Saturday's meeting with Bournemouth was the seventh consecutive game in which Spurs have outrun their opposition. That brutal intensity, which made life so difficult for Howe's side, reflects the players' commitment to Pochettino's way of playing.

"There are no passengers in this Tottenham team," said Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports. "Everybody is at it. Everybody is closing and pressing. They all buy in to it. You can see the energy they play with because the amount of times they win the ball up the pitch. It becomes infectious.

"Every time somebody goes to press the ball, someone is in behind them. It happens all over the pitch. You have to be well coached, but you have to buy into it. You have to be young and you have to be full of energy which is what this Spurs side are at the moment. Whether they can go on and win the league, that might take a bit of a capitulation from Chelsea, but they are right in the mix."

Even more encouraging for Tottenham is that the players clearly appreciate that they are part of something special. The likes of Kane, Alli and Hugo Lloris could undoubtedly earn more elsewhere. Instead, they have signed new long-term contracts this season along with seven other first-team players.

The same applies for Pochettino. The Argentine signed a new five-year deal at the start of the campaign and frequently describes his work at Spurs as a "long-term project". When the Barcelona job became available last month, he emphatically rejected speculation linking him with the position.

"In football I know it is so difficult to keep your values and to be loyal - with your heart and emotion," he said. "But for me before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important." Since that public show of faith, Tottenham's players have responded with four resounding victories in a row.

So whether or not they can overhaul Chlesea and win the title this season, Tottenham have everything in place to continue their improvement in the years ahead. Moving into a new stadium will present challenges as well as opportunities, but Pochettino will be there and so will his exciting young group of players. It might not be long until the silverware starts to follow.


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