Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham can mount lasting challenge to Chelsea

Rob Stewart
The Independent
Spurs lost their nerve in last season's title race: Getty
Spurs lost their nerve in last season's title race: Getty

The Tottenham manager, Mauricio Pochettino, insisted his players had shown their rivals that they have the mentality to mount a lasting challenge to Chelsea in the race for the Premier League.

Pochettino heaped praise on his players for a stunning late recovery that denied relegation-threatened Swansea a first ever Premier League victory over their high-flying peers that will have silenced those who have Spurs down as so-called chokers.

He spoke out after Spurs, who lost their nerve in last year's title race, ran in three goals in six minutes in the closing stages of an exhilarating contest at the Liberty Stadium which Swansea had led for most the night thanks to an 11th-minute goal from former Spurs winger Wayne Routledge.

A famous victory and three much-needed points seems to be on the cards for Swansea until a stunning reversal of fortune that saw Dele Alli equalise in the 88th minute when he turned in a deflected shot by Christian Eriksen.

Spurs, who were without skipper Hugo Lloris who fell ill at the team hotel, were clearly in no mood to settle for a point and Son Heung-min put his team ahead in the first minute of stoppage time when he beat Fabianski from 12 yards after good work by Janssen.

Erikssen completed a stunning turnaround in the fifth of seven minutes of stoppage time when he planted a shot past Fabianski after a fine pass by Alli to ensure Spurs’ Premier League ambitions were well and truly alive.

“It was a fantastic result, it was unbelievable and it happened because we believe and never give up and always try, try try, so our players deserved the prize,” the Argentine said.

“The most important thing is that we showed faith and belief and the players deserve a lot of credit for that.

“If you compare Tottenham and Chelsea over the last 10 year, Chelsea won some titles and we haven’t. Proving that you have a winning mentality is about this type of game when you show big character.”

Pochettino continued: “We are in a good way. It is important to show we have learned from last season and that is a good thing because maybe last season it was a game we may have given up or.

“It was not a physical problem, it was a mental problem and today we won because we believe and always try and never give up.”

Pochettino has clearly seen enough to believe that his team can match Chelsea stride-for-stride.

“I believe that we can win every game if we play like today and then we will see. It is important to go step-by-step and game-by-game and focus on ourselves,” he said.

Alli inspired the late turnaround (Getty)
Alli inspired the late turnaround (Getty)

“That victory means a lot because we are still pushing and putting pressure on our opponents. The collective spirit was fantastic.

When the second goal went in it felt like a massive moment. It means a lot because we are still pushing and still going. It means a lot. We realised the three points for us would be a fantastic result”

The Swansea manager, Paul Clement, was left shell-shocked by a reversal that leaves his team in the relegation zone.

“It’s a result that’s very tough to take,” Clement said. “We got off to a really good start. It gave the team a lot of belief. We had to defend a lot which we did well against a very good side.

“The fact we came out of the game with nothing is pretty heartbreaking. We have to be encouraged by our overall performance. We have to dust ourselves off and go again.”

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