Mauricio Pochettino has defended his team selection against Arsenal, despite seeing his Tottenham Hotspur side crash out of the League Cup.
The Argentine coach made eight changes to the side which beat Crystal Palace at the weekend, including the decision to rest regular number one Hugo Lloris in favour of Michel Vorm. And the former Swansea City goalkeeper has been blamed for the Gunners opening goal at White Hart Lane, when he failed to keep hold of a shot which allowed Mathieu Flamini to score.
Another controversial selection was that of Federico Fazio, the central defender, who has slipped to fifth choice in the pecking order and almost left the club during the summer. Spurs were on level terms thanks to a Calum Chambers own goal when the 28-year-old miscued a clearance straight into the patch of Flamini, who scored his second and what proved to be decisive goal.
This defeat has ended one avenue of potential silverware for Tottenham, who now realistically have just the FA Cup and UEFA Europa League to play for as they search a first honour since 2008. This is all the more reason why the White Hart Lane faithful would have preferred a stronger line-up, especially given their opponents, but Pochettino has defended his selection.
“No, I don’t regret playing Fazio,” he said. “You can make the mistakes and in football it always happens. They are not machines. Today he played because he deserved to play. I don’t think it was a gamble to change the goalkeeper. Michel Vorm deserved to play and I think it is a competition, and it was a good opportunity for him. We need to show respect to the players.”
Arsenal have been rewarded for their win with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday, who beat Newcastle United, in the last-16. Aston Villa, who won their own derby against Birmingham City on Tuesday, will travel to Southampton in one of five all Premier League clashes: the others being Everton v Norwich City, Liverpool v Bournemouth, Manchester City v Crystal Palace, and Stoke City v Chelsea. Manchester United, meanwhile, host Middlesbrough, and Leicester City travel to Hull City.