Spurs rally to beat Swansea

London, February 29

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said that the balm of victory would help his hobbling players prepare for Wednesday’s Premier League clash with London rivals West Ham United.

Harry Kane wore a face mask to protect a broken nose against Swansea City on Sunday and Dele Alli injured his foot in the warm-up, but both players finished the match with smiles on their faces as Spurs came from behind to win 2-1. Coupled with Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United, it enabled Pochettino’s men to reclaim second place and close to within two points of leaders Leicester City.

After visiting sixth-place West Ham, Spurs face a showdown with north London rivals Arsenal, but despite their walking wounded, Pochettino said: “It’s easier to prepare for the West Ham game after this victory. They are happy, they smile, it is always a better mood to recover.”

While Spurs look to establish themselves as Leicester’s main challengers, third-place Arsenal find themselves five points behind the leaders ahead of their home game with Swansea. Arsenal could not take advantage of an injury-ravaged United team at Old Trafford, where 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford scored twice for the hosts and set up Ander Herrera for what proved to be the decisive goal, and manager Arsene Wenger conceded it had been a weighty blow. “We dropped three important points, but we have to show we are up for the fight and bounce back on Wednesday night,” he said.

Manchester City’s title hopes looked to have been fatally undermined by consecutive losses to Leicester and Spurs, but although they lie nine points off the pace — albeit with a game in hand — confidence has been bolstered by Sunday’s League Cup triumph over Liverpool.

League Cup success proved the catalyst for a late surge to title glory in 2014 and ahead of Wednesday’s speedy reunion with Liverpool at Anfield, manager Manuel Pellegrini is hoping that lightning will strike twice. “It’s important to continue trusting what we are doing,” said the Chilean, whose side prevailed 3-1 on penalties at Wembley after the game finished 1-1 at the end of extra time. United, now three points below the Champions League berths, having played a game more than fourth-place City, host Watford on Wednesday.

Leicester continue to make a mockery of predictions that their title challenge is bound to collapse and can reassert their five-point advantage on Tuesday when they host West Bromwich Albion. They almost squandered a chance to put pressure on their rivals on Saturday, when it took an 89th-minute goal from substitute Leonardo Ulloa to see off Norwich City, but manager Claudio Ranieri took the manner of victory as a sign of the depth in his squad.