Mauricio Pochettino defends Tottenham team following win over Leicester

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was left perplexed by Michael Oliver’s decision to book Son Heung-min for diving in his side’s 3-1 win over Leicester.

Son was booked in the first half after going down in the area under a challenge from Harry Maguire, becoming the fourth Spurs player to be yellow-carded for simulation this season.

The South Korean went on to get on the scoresheet at Wembley, putting the finishing touches on a win that had been set up by Davinson Sanchez and Christian Eriksen goals.

Oliver did point to the spot when he awarded Leicester a penalty, which Jamie Vardy missed with his first kick after coming on as a substitute immediately before, though the striker did get on the scoresheet later on.

It was the second time Oliver has denied Son a penalty at Wembley this season after he chose not to award a spot-kick in the final moments of Liverpool’s 2-1 win in September.

Pochettino has not forgotten that incident and was incredulous in his response to Sunday’s re-run.

“Today do you think that Sonny deserved to be booked? Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable.

“When you compare the situation with the penalty against us, unbelievable. The problem is, I told Michael Oliver, the situation of Liverpool in the last minute that should be a penalty, but it was a clear penalty.

“It was the same referee but now I don’t know how he has measured the situation. It is so difficult.

“I am a person that always accepts the mistake but I think it was so strange the situation today.

“I am more relaxed now because we won the game, three important points we got, but so disappointed with the situation because everyone wants to talk about different clubs or players, but do you think we are a team that is trying to cheat the referee? Come on, we are the most innocent people on the pitch.”

The win keeps Tottenham in the Premier League title race, five points off the top, after their 20th win of the season.

Their attention now turns to the Champions League, where they host Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, though Pochettino is unhappy with the scheduling of this game against the Foxes.

Dortmund played on Saturday and the Argentinian believes his side are now at a massive disadvantage by having 24 hours less to recover.

He said: “I feel so embarrassed because I can accept to play today if Dortmund play today and then we play Wednesday, but I cannot understand why we’re playing with a massive disadvantage.

“Twenty-four hours in this type of competition, the last 16, is a massive disadvantage.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to compete. For me, I’m going to stop describing the real situation, but I think there is no sense.

“It is so difficult to understand why, when we had one week clear to play this game and to schedule it on a different day, and only I am explaining my feelings and how difficult it is to prepare a game when you only have today and then you’re going to need to play.”

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Pep Guardiola thanks Man City players following Chelsea rout

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Pep Guardiola hailed his Manchester City players after the champions continued their stunning response to defeat at Newcastle by thrashing Chelsea 6-0.

Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick – a record-equalling 11th in the Premier League – as City powered back to the top of the Premier League by demolishing Maurizio Sarri’s men at the Etihad Stadium.

The victory was City’s third in the space of eight days since a surprise defeat at St James’ Park, with Arsenal and Everton having also been brushed aside.

Guardiola, whose side lead Liverpool at the top on goal difference, said: “After three games in a week – tough games against Arsenal and at Goodison Park – playing the way we played with this intensity and patience to find spaces in the right moments, the players were outstanding.

“I just said to them thank you for what they have done.

“After Newcastle we spoke to each other and put ourselves in front of a mirror, and accepted the reality. After that we worked, moved forward.

“We are there, we are the leaders, but Liverpool have one more game (in hand).”

Asked if it was one of City’s best performances of his reign, Guardiola said: “Yes, we played good.

“The first four times we arrived we scored three goals. Sergio missed one but after he made an incredible goal.

“It was not easy because Chelsea demanded a lot and we defended deeper, like never before, because they have the quality to find spaces. They created problems.

“Six goals against Chelsea is not easy and we are so pleased for this week. Now we can have two days off and prepare for Newport and the (Carabao Cup) final.”

Aguero’s hat-trick equalled Alan Shearer’s competition record of 11 and was also his 15th in City colours. In the process he also became City’s record league goalscorer with 160.

He should even have had more having missed a sitter in the early stages and hit the bar.

Raheem Sterling also scored twice, with Ilkay Gundogan netting City’s other goal.

Asked what he thought of Aguero’s miss, Guardiola said: “He said to me he saw Kepa coming quick to close the space and he wanted to be precise, close to the post. That way he missed.

“I told him not to do it again but, after, his reaction was a little bit better!”

Guardiola, who won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in charge of Barcelona, was asked how his current side compared to the one he had at the Nou Camp.

He said: “We have won three titles since we have been together. In Barcelona we won much, much more.

“But in spite of the titles, the desire to do their best and respect for where they are is incredible. That is quite similar, but I don’t want to compare.”

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Maurizio Sarri accepts he is ‘always at risk’ of losing Chelsea job

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Maurizio Sarri feels he is “always at risk” of being sacked by Chelsea after watching them succumb to their heaviest defeat in almost 28 years.

The pressure intensified on the Italian after Sergio Aguero’s 11th Premier League hat-trick, Raheem Sterling’s double and Ilkay Gundogan’s goal wrapped up an incredible 6-0 win for Manchester City.

A miserable day at the Etihad Stadium was Chelsea’s worst result since losing 7-0 to Nottingham Forest in April 1991 and comes less than two weeks after a shock 4-0 hammering at Bournemouth.

Sarri made an encouraging start to his tenure as Chelsea were unbeaten after their first 12 top-flight matches under him but the Blues have faded out of title contention and face a battle to finish in the top four.

Their manager accepted he is concerned by their recent displays but gave a considered assessment when asked whether he fears for his future.

He said: “I don’t know, you have to ask the club. I am worried about my team, I am worried about the performance but my job is always at risk so I am not worried about the club. You have to ask the club.

“I didn’t see my football (against City). At the beginning (of the season) it worked. So now we need only to understand the reasons why at the moment it isn’t working. We need to understand the reasons.

“It is not easy. At the beginning, we played better away than at home. Now we are playing better at home than away.

“Something is changing. At the moment I am not able to see the reason but I have to work for this because my target is to play my football, not to change another football because at the moment we are playing another football.”

Following the loss to the Cherries on the south coast, Sarri was openly critical of the mentality of his players and that he could not motivate them.

They duly responded by thumping Huddersfield 5-0 last weekend but were once again thoroughly outclassed on Sunday afternoon.

Sarri, though, did not think they were struggling for motivation this time.

He said: “No, I don’t think so. My feeling during the week was really very good.

“My feeling was that in this match the motivation was at the right level. I think we started well then we conceded the goal after four minutes in a stupid way.

“In that moment, we needed to stay in the match and we were not able to because we made a lot of mistakes against the wrong opponents. We have to say they played really fantastic football.”

Sarri, whose side slipped to sixth, did not shake the hand of his opposite number Pep Guardiola at full-time but insisted he was merely eager to return to the dressing room.

He added: “I didn’t see him at the moment but of course as usual I will go to say hello to him later as usual.

“It was by chance because I wanted to go to the dressing room and at the moment I didn’t see him. I have not a problem with Pep.”

Guardiola, too, played down any speculation of a rift as he said: “I spoke with (Chelsea assistant) Gianfranco Zola. (Sarri) didn’t see me. I have a good relationship with him so no problem.”

The Spaniard empathises with the scrutiny Sarri is under and believes the former Napoli coach needs time to implement his ideas.

Guardiola added: “I know exactly what he wants to do. This kind of person or this type of game always helps to make our football better. He wants to try to do that.

“People don’t understand how difficult the first year can be. Mine was difficult too. People expect with a new manager and buying players it comes immediately, but it needs time.”

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