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Pochettino braced for Saints visit

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is looking forward to his reunion with Southampton

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is looking forward to his reunion with Southampton

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is looking forward to his reunion with Southampton

Mauricio Pochettino still loves Southampton but knows that affection is unlikely to be reciprocated when his former side arrives at Tottenham this weekend.

Eyebrows were raised when the former Argentina defender replaced the popular Nigel Adkins at the St Mary's helm in January 2013, yet the relative unknown quickly established himself as one of the finest managerial talents around.

Pochettino's attacking, high-pressing style earned widespread praise, as did the manner in which English talent like Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez flourished under his tutorship.

That success saw Southampton last season enjoy their best-ever Barclays Premier League campaign - a feat that saw Spurs come calling in the summer, with Pochettino and his staff lured to White Hart Lane.

That exit led to a well-documented talent drain at St Mary's, making the job done by successor Ronald Koeman so far this season all the more remarkable.

Saints head to White Hart Lane on Sunday second in the standings and looking for a seventh successive win in all competitions - a start which has surprised fans and pundits alike, although seemingly not the Spurs boss.

"Yes, why not? This is football," Pochettino said. "When they start with a new project and new players and staff, why not?

"In football the most important thing is belief and Southampton like a club have a great force, power and they believe and this is important. I am happy.

"We have a lot of friends a lot of people I love in Southampton. I'm happy for their start in the league for the players, the people from the club. I have a very good memories."

This will be an emotional encounter for Pochettino but one in which Saints fans are unlikely to show much - if any - affection towards their former boss.

"I don't know [if the fans love me]," he said. "I love Southampton. I love a lot of people.

"That year-and-a-half in my life was an amazing period and I left, but this is another thing. I have amazing memories from Southampton.

"I know it's football. Now I am happy that they are happy at the beginning of the season and for me that is enough.

"In football, you deserve, you don't deserve [certain things]. Some people say okay, some people say no, but this is football.

"I'm happy Southampton have a great season and it's a game that we need to win the three points.

"We need to fight with Southampton on Sunday, but it's emotional. Football is emotional and Sunday is emotional for us too."

Spurs head into Sunday's match off the back of a last-gasp draw with Besiktas on Thursday evening.

Pochettino's men were on course for a first Europa League Group C victory, as Harry Kane's 20-yard strike was complemented by a world-class goalkeeping display by Hugo Lloris.

However, Vlad Chiriches' farcical late handball after an air kick gave Besiktas a penalty, from which Demba Ba coolly rolled home for a 1-1 draw.

It is a frustration Pochettino said Spurs cannot afford to dwell on with Saints arriving this weekend - sentiments echoed by goalscorer Kane.

"It was great to get on the scoresheet again but we've come away disappointed," the forward said. "We dug deep as a team and to concede so late is heartbreaking on our behalf.

"Besiktas are a top side, they were unlucky not to qualify for the Champions League so we knew we'd have to be at our best.

"They created a few chances but Hugo is a top goalkeeper and pulled off some world-class saves.

"It would have been a great win and we really wanted to win this game, we knew it would be a big game in the group.

"We had chances as well, their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves, but we have to move on."

Tottenham will recall a number of players.

Hugo Lloris was the only player to start both last weekend's derby clash with Arsenal and the Europa League tie against Besiktas on Thursday evening.

Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Ryan Mason, Etienne Capoue, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli all dropped out of the squad entirely against the Turkish side. Kyle Walker remains out after abdominal surgery.

All eyes will be on Pochettino but his successor Ronald Koeman is not paying much attention to that reunion at White Hart Lane.

"For me [it does] not [give this game extra spice] because I wasn't here last season, but I understand for Mauricio Pochettino maybe it's special," the Dutchman said. "I think it's special for him and maybe for some players.

"We changed a lot this season our squad but it's always special for some players who worked with Mauricio last season.

"But there is no influence in the final result because the most important thing is to win the game or lose the game."

While there have been numerous changes at St Mary's, Pochettino will be coming up against several familiar faces.

That core of players has helped Southampton's plethora of new arrivals adapt, providing Koeman with a good foundation from which to build.

"Every manager has his own way of working but from the first day of this season what I saw was a great spirit in the team, and I heard that was one of the qualities of last season," the Dutchman said.

"The team and the players are continuing with that.

"Okay, it was difficult because we had a lot of changes but we had good scouting in the club and we bought good players in and maybe the challenge now is higher than the last season.

"Everybody was surprised with the eighth position last season, but people love how the team is doing and we will do everything to keep that. Last season is the past and we have to look forward."

The determination to keep improving has not only impressed Koeman but a number of international managers, too.

Saints captain Jose Fonte was called up by Portugal for the first time on Friday, following on from Nathaniel Clyne's selection by England the previous day.

The right-back has played a key role in Southampton's fine start to the campaign and Koeman rates as one of the best he has coached in the position.

"I think everybody is agreed with that call because he's doing a fantastic job and he's still 23 years old and still a young player," Koeman said.

"He has had a great progression this season and is playing very good for the team.

"He's one of the best in his position because he's defending good and he's fast and he shows his physical side.

"In the last minute against QPR, he made a run about 60 or 70 metres and that showed his spirit for the team and he's a very good player."

Southampton defender Florin Gardos will be assessed before kick off.

The Romania international missed last weekend's win against QPR with a calf complaint and has only just returned to training.

James Ward-Prowse (foot) and Rodriguez (knee) are long-term absentees, while Maya Yoshida (ankle) is also out.