Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has urged his side to banish the lingering gloom from Saturday’s north London demise by beating Borussia Dortmund and sealing top spot in Champions League Group H.
Pochettino admitted the mood around the club was low following the weekend’s 2-0 defeat to rivals Arsenal – the Argentinian’s first Premier League defeat to the Gunners since taking charge of Spurs in 2014.
But should Tottenham, who have already qualified for the tournament’s knockout stage, match Real Madrid’s result against Cypriot outfit Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday then they will progress as group winners, the perfect tonic according to Pochettino.
“We are qualified for the next stage, we are so happy for that,” said Pochettino. “At the same period one year ago we were in Monaco, and after that game we were out of the Champions League. Now we are in the next stage.
“We are very disappointed because of the last game, but the expectation was different. We believed we were going to the Emirates to win. We are very disappointed, but we need to keep going.
“We are so happy if we analyse the last two or three seasons and how the club is improving. The expectation is now to win the Champions League and to win the Premier League. That is the long-term goal.
“I am happy though that people criticise us. This means they expect more of us and they see us on that level. But we are calm and know very well that we have improved a lot over the last year.”
Pochettino was again forced to play down rumours of a row with Danny Rose after the England left-back was omitted from the Tottenham matchday squad for Saturday’s tussle and sent to train with the reserves.
“I cannot speak about the rumours. If you ask if Danny Rose is here and do we have an issue, I say no. I have no issue with him,” added Pochettino.
“He is doing well. The training session on Saturday was tough for him and today he will train with the group and then I will decide if tomorrow he will play or not.”
Pochettino has hinted that he will rest players against Peter Bosz’s side, who are winless across all competitions since October, but has confirmed that striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli are fully fit despite both being substituted against Arsenal.
“Harry Kane and Dele Alli are both fit to play,” said Pochettino. “Tomorrow we are going to rest some players who need rest. We will look at what is best for them and the team.
“But I hope I will not have to rest too many players. It is a Champions League game. We have achieved qualification but now the goal is to finish first.”