Pochettino believes Spurs are mentally strong
Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham Hotspur have developed a big-game mentality this season which they proved by beating Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The 2-0 win over Chelsea, which ended their London rivals' 13-game winning run, came weeks after Spurs handed Pep Guardiola his first defeat as Manchester City manager. Their only losses to top-six rivals this season were at Manchester United and Chelsea.
"It's true that it's no more than three points, no more than another game. But after Chelsea's run, it is a team that is at the top, it was a good opportunity to show we improved and learned from last season," Pochettino said.
"I was very pleased after the game because we showed that we are very competitive. In this type of game sometimes you don't need to play your best, but be competitive. It's what we missed last season, to challenge and win the Premier League.
"That for me is a big statement and a big step forward, that the team need to keep that mentality. If you are competitive you will always be close to winning the games."
Midfielder Dele Alli has earned plaudits in recent weeks, drawing comparisons with England greats Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, as his brace against Chelsea took his goal tally to seven in his last four games.
"I don't want to compare. In the last few days appear a lot of comparisons with other players but I think he (Alli) is a very special player, completely different," Pochettino said.
"He's Dele Alli and it's difficult to compare. His potential is massive, big gap to improve but he's showing now unbelievable qualities and great performances. He's one of the best players in the Premier League but with potential to improve."
Pochettino will probably field a few fringe players in tomorrow's FA Cup third-round clash against second tier Aston Villa.
"For us it's an important competition. It's a good opportunity for us to play players who have not played regularly," the Argentine added.
"We need to try to take the better decision to help the players, the team... It's sure that we make some changes."
Erik Lamela is frustrated at being Tottenham's only injured player and has returned to former club AS Roma to undergo treatment.
Lamela is struggling to shake off a troublesome hip problem and has not played for Spurs since their 2-1 EFL Cup defeat to Liverpool on October 25.
The 24-year-old's recovery was then delayed in December by a family issue, which meant he spent one week in Argentina visiting his brother in hospital.
Pochettino first reported Lamela's injury, which was sustained in training, as "minor" at the start of November but is now reluctant to offer a timescale on his recovery.
The midfielder's lack of physical progress and mental frustration has caused Tottenham's manager to believe a change of scenery may prove beneficial.
"He went to Italy now. They need to change a little about the atmosphere, he has strong links in Rome," Pochettino said.
"Not only do we believe it's important to change a bit his mind, if not he asks to finish his recovery time there. The club and the staff believe it was right that situation.
"We hope that after that period he will come again and be available to start training with the team."