Pochettino thrilled with ‘competitive animal’ Alli after derby win
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The Spurs manager reflected on the victory over rivals Arsenal and the performances of Dele Alli and Paulo Gazzaniga
Mauricio Pochettino lauded Tottenham Hotspur’s competitive animal Dele Alli after Wednesday’s 2-0 derby win over Arsenal in the League Cup quarter-finals.
Once again the 22-year-old produced the goods for Spurs in a big game, as he set up Heung-min Son’s opener before he secured the result with a superb second-half chip.
Alli was everywhere and the playmaker even had to contend with a bottle hitting him on the head in the second half, but he responded in the best fashion with a 2-0 gesture to signal the score.
The Tottenham number 20’s nonchalant chip in the 59th minute sparked wild scenes in the away end and he earned praise from his manager after.
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Pochettino said: “I think I explained before, Dele is very competitive. He loves to compete. I explained to you that in easy situations he gets bored easily.
“In training he gets bored if you don’t put opposition in and if you don’t push him to compete, because he’s an animal, a competitive animal.
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“When he feels so comfortable, when he’s in a very competitive space and situation, he always gives his best and that is a quality he has and you cannot buy that in the supermarket.”
Spurs were also indebted to back-up goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, especially in the opening 45 at the Emirates Stadium.
He made two key stops – one before Son’s opener and another after to ensure it was 1-0 at the break.
Gazzaniga firstly denied Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a one-v-one situation with the score goalless, as he saved impressively to thwart the Arsenal player.
Then after Son had stroked home with 20 on the clock, the Argentina international had to be alert just before half time to deny Aaron Ramsey’s stinging effort.
Boss Pochettino added: “The performance was solid. I don’t know if after we analyse the game we deserve more than Arsenal.
“Of course I think the performance was so solid and of course you need some luck in some actions.
“I thought our goalkeeper was fantastic and we scored from outstanding actions like from Sonny and Kane with Dele.
“Always in football you need to perform in the way you want and show great quality and always you need some luck.
“It was very competitive, the game, and it was more like a final than a quarter-final and always it’s tough when you play against Arsenal because they have a great team, a very competitive team and always it’s so difficult to play in the Emirates.
“A few weeks ago we played here and we were so disappointed after the game. To change that emotion is so important. That is why we are so happy, but now we are thinking about Sunday because we have another battle in Liverpool against Everton.”