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Pochettino proud ‘unique’ Spurs still going toe-to-toe with big-spending Chelsea

Date Posted,April 15, 2017

Season one of Mauricio Pochettino versus Antonio Conte is gearing up for quite a climax.

The advantage may still be with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in the title race. But the story could well be about Mauricio Pochettino on Saturday as the rivals square up at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final.

Victory for the Argentinian would represent a triumph for his steady reconstruction of the north Londoners, whose past attempts to spend their way into the Premier League big time failed dismally.

Pochettino tends not to play mind games, but he is justified in pointing out that his Tottenham side are doing the business with far fewer resources than their top-six rivals, Chelsea included.

The club is maturing the Pochettino way. Building from the back and responding to the faith shown in his young talents.

Spurs are flying with another home win against Bournemouth (Photo: Reuters)

“I think our answer is fantastic,” he said, after seeing off Bournemouth. “If you analyse where we came from, it’s a fantastic time for Tottenham.

“The way you build your project is important to analyse. Tottenham is not building now in an artificial way.

“It is not about putting in money, money, money, and building a fantastic stadium and fantastic team.

“Tottenham is very genuine, it is a very natural process and it is so exciting because it is unique in the world.”

Of the five players bought by Chelsea last summer – at a cost of £120million – three of them are key components of Conte’s side: N’Golo Kante (£32million), Marcos Alonso (£23m) and David Luiz (£34m).

Harry Kane celebrates scoring with team mates
There’s a distinct feel-good factor at White Hart Lane (Photo: PA)

Pochettino’s most expensive defender is Toby Alderweireld at £11.25m. Jan Vertonghen, brought in before the Spurs boss’s arrival, cost £12m. Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko, bought for a total of £47million by Spurs last summer, cannot get into the team regularly.

Instead, the squad is peppered with bargain buys whose values have gone through the roof – Dele Alli (£5m), Eric Dier (£4m), Kieran Trippier (£3.5m) and Victor Wanyama (£9m).

The former Southampton boss has fused the sum of his parts into an unstoppable force, still undefeated in all competitions at home and one that has already beaten Chelsea this season.

Antonio Conte looks dejected after the match
Conte’s men are still leading the league – but pressure is mounting (Photo: Reuters)

It was Tottenham, remember, who ended the Blues’ 13-match winning streak in the Premier League in January.

They have now made it 12 successive home league wins for the first time in the club’s

135-year history.

Goals from Mousa Dembele (above), Son Heung Min, Kane and Janssen made it seven straight league wins – the last time that happened was half a century ago. Pochettino’s side also still have the best defensive record in the top flight.

So while Chelsea broke their hearts by ending their title bid last season and beat them to the League Cup in 2015, the new and improved Spurs will be a very different proposition – especially if they can perform as well at Wembley as they do at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have had some Wembley struggles this term (Photo: Stephen Pond – The FA)

“We must make Wembley our home,” said Pochettino. “Because next season it is sure that we will play there and it is important for us to start to feel that it is our home. If not, we will struggle to play next season.

“When we played there in the Champions League it was difficult because it was a new competition for us. But now it is about feeling that it is your house, your home.

“The last game we played there, against Gent, was a little bit unlucky because Dele Alli was sent off and we played with 10 men and we dominated.

“That was the moment to realise we can play in the same way as at White Hart Lane. This is the good example we need to work on, knowing that feeling.”

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