Mauricio Pochettino

GENT, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 16:  Jeremy Perbet of KAA Gent celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between KAA Gent and Tottenham Hotspur at Ghelamco Arena on February 16, 2017 in Gent, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Slumping Spurs “have to be clever” to stop rot

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Spurs have hit a thorny patch of form at a congested time in their schedule.

After a drowsy display against Liverpool last weekend, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men couldn’t find the back of the net in Belgium against Gent in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

[ MORE: FA Cup predictions ]

The 1-0 loss isn’t crushing, but leaves little room for error in London on Thursday.

Still, Pochettino says that Gent’s edge is slim. From TottenhamHotspur.com:

“When you lose it’s always a bad feeling but the tie is open, it’s a minimal advantage for Gent and we need to play at Wembley next Thursday and try to win the game,” said Mauricio.

“We are confident we can turn it around, of course. We need to recover our best feeling as soon as possible. It always happens, ups and downs, but we have to be clever and try to stop that.”

The next chance to do just that is Sunday against Fulham. A London Derby against a lower league side could be the perfect prescription for Pochettino, though we suspect the Cottagers will be ready.

Pochettino calls on Spurs to improve results away to top-6 sides

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on January 21, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Tottenham Hotspur won’t be true Premier League title contenders until they improve their results away to the rest of the sides harboring title aspirations of their own — generally speaking, the top-six.

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Speaking ahead of Tottenham’s seasonal trip to Anfield (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), where they’ll take on a reeling Liverpool side without a single PL victory in 2017 (just one win in all competitions — in the FA Cup, over Plymouth Argyle), Pochettino sees this as the perfect time to right the wrongs that have plagued his reign — quotes from the Guardian:

“[We struggle at] top-six clubs because we have had some draws and some losses. It’s true that this is a good opportunity to change that stat.”

“We had the same problem in November — every club can have ups and downs. They are not in a good run but have very good players, one of best squads in England or even Europe, they will be motivated as this is always a big match. When we play them it will be very high-tempo and intense. If we win it will be important to keep our good position and put pressure on Chelsea. It’s not decisive but it’s important.”

First things first, let’s see if the numbers are true to Pochettino’s diagnosis that Spurs throw away too many points away to the rest of the top-six. Yup, his story more than checks out.

[ MORE: “I think that’s it” for Wenger; “he’s coming to the end,” says Wright ]

A little more than two and a half seasons into Pochettino’s tenure at White Hart Lane, Spurs are 7W-13D-9L against Arsenal (unbeaten at 1W-4D-0L), Chelsea (2W-2D-2L), Liverpool (0W-3D-2L), Manchester City (3W-1D-2L) and Manchester United (1W-1D-3L). Not terrible, but well below a rate of 50 percent of possible points won.

Away from home, Pochettino’s record against those sides is a disastrous 1W-6D-8L.

Hull City warms up for EFL Cup semifinal in Ryan Mason shirts

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26:  Hull City players wear t-shirts in support of injured team mate Ryan Mason prior to the EFL Cup Semi-Final second leg match between Hull City and Manchester United at KCOM Stadium on January 26, 2017 in Hull, England. Mason suffered a fractured skull in the prevous match against Chelsea.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
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With Ryan Mason still in the hospital after his nasty clash of heads with Gary Cahill, the Hull City squad is rallying around its English midfielder.

The club was set to take on Manchester United in the second leg of the FA Cup semifinal at the KCOM, and in the prematch warmups, they showed their support. The entire squad donned Mason’s shirt during warmups, all wearing his 25 shirt with his name on the back.

The 25-year-old banged heads with Chelsea defender Cahill on an aerial challenge in the Chelsea box during their Premier League meeting over the weekend, a match which saw Chelsea win comfortably 2-0. He was taken off on a stretcher and given oxygen, while Cahill was able to come off unscathed. He underwent surgery in the West London hospital that night for a fractured skull, and has been hospitalized since.

The fans held a minute’s applause for Mason in the 25th minute of the game against Manchester United, and Hull immediately responded with the first big chance of the game.

The former Tottenham midfielder also received a visit from his old manager Mauricio Pochettino earlier today, the Spurs manager said. Pochettino was watching the game live on television from Barcelona where the squad was on a break, and saw the incident. He said he has been in touch with Mason’s family and his girlfriend since the injury. Pochettino also said the Spurs squad sent Mason a video from Barcelona to wish him well. Mason was a Spurs youth product and made 70 appearances for the senior team before being sold to Hull City this past summer.

“Ryan is very strong, mentally,” Pochettino said. “His mentality, his personality. He has suffered a lot in the past, he has suffered a lot of injuries and it’s sure that he can recover as soon as possible. He is strong and he has people around him, his family, that help him a lot and us, too, who will push him to recover as soon as possible.”

Walker, Guardiola, Pochettino react to non-PK call in Man City-Spurs

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A thrilling match has ended with an unfortunate focus on officials.

Kyle Walker shoved Raheem Sterling on a second-half breakaway, but a stumbling Sterling still poked the ball at Hugo Lloris.

Referee Andre Marriner didn’t make the call, and moments later a potential 3-1 became 2-2 when Heung-Min Son equalized at the other end.

[ RECAP: Man City 2-2 Spurs ]

Man City boss Pep Guardiola was furious, and went off on the fourth official. Walker, it seems, knows he was guilty.

“I wasn’t going to get him otherwise,” Walker said. “You just have to try to put him off as much as possible.”

Then there’s Pep, who tried to avoid speaking about the penalty.

“We made an outstanding performance. It’s a pity what happened. … We’re upset, sad at what happened, but I am so, so proud of what we did.”

Later he was told that Walker admitting to pushing Sterling, and said with a smirk, “In this country you appreciate honesty. Thank you to Walker for being honest.”

Finally, Pochettino seems to think there wasn’t a problem at all, except when City was allowed to score when Hugo Lloris headed a ball off Leroy Sane’s hand before Sane scored.

Cheeky.

“The first goal we conceded was handball. We can’t start to see every single detail, in England it’s different. It wasn’t a penalty. From my side, there’s no complaint about from me about the referee.”

Sure, Mauricio. Sure.

Owen tells World Cup tale after PK decision mars Man City-Spurs

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Michael Owen was rightly aggrieved for countryman Raheem Sterling when the speedy attacker wasn’t given a PK against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Kyle Walker shoved Man City’s Sterling on a second-half breakaway, but a stumbling Sterling still poked the ball at Hugo Lloris.

It was 2-2 moments later, Top Four fortunes shifted by a non-call. Owen hates diving, but took to Twitter after the game to explain how refs think in those situations (or at least how one reacted in a World Cup match).

Oddly enough, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino plays a role in the nearly 15-year-old story.