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Spurs star: Opener at West Ham has extra importance after last season’s defeats

12:10 14 August 2014

Lewis Holtby

Lewis Holtby

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Lewis Holtby says Tottenham’s opening-day clash against West Ham has extra importance because of last season’s derby defeats against the Irons.

Spurs lost all three of their meetings with Sam Allardyce’s Hammers in the 2013/14 campaign and, while there is always a great sense of anticipation ahead of the big kick-off anyway, Holtby is fully aware of the additional edge to the match – the need to restore local pride and gain revenge against the Lilywhites’ east London rivals.

“I think, after last year’s performances against them, everyone knows what this game’s about,” said Holtby. “It’s about getting three points in the first game of the Premier League season, and it’s a big derby which means a lot to the fans.

“If we could win at Upton Park I think that would mean a lot to the fans, especially after last year. Everyone’s really up for it and we can’t wait to kick off.”

Tottenham will begin the campaign with a new head coach in Mauricio Pochettino, who arrived from Southampton at the start of the summer, and Holtby says the squad are fully behind the Argentine and are embracing his philosophy.

“I think he’s a very good manager,” said the German midfielder. “I don’t want to compare managers as everyone has their own style, but he’s very positive - he wants to play attacking football, pressing football.

“It suits everybody at the club. Everyone’s happy with the way we train, the way we work, and he’s so ambitious. We’re very positive to go into the season and do very well.”

Holtby’s Spurs career stalled last season as he found himself out of favour under Tim Sherwood and was loaned to Fulham, who were ultimately relegated.

However, he is now back at White Hart Lane and has enjoyed a strong pre-season campaign, scoring twice and setting up another four goals.

The 23-year-old started alongside Nabil Bentaleb in the centre in Saturday’s final friendly – a 2-1 victory over his former club Schalke at White Hart Lane.

But, with the majority of Spurs’ World Cup stars yet to return to the fray, he is refusing to get carried away by his own performances and remains tight-lipped about his personal hopes and expectations, insisting that the club’s success is the priority.

“I’m just working hard day by day, I’m not saying anything,” he said. “I’m just going to work hard and I want to fight my way into the team.

“Others are there to judge my game but I’m very happy that I’ve got a lot of run-outs and I’ve built up some confidence to hopefully play against West Ham.

“Every win you can take in pre-season is very important for the confidence - every goal, every run-out you get.

“I’m giving everything for this club, for this team, and to show my abilities. The gaffer’s the judge and if he believes in my qualities then I will play but it’s a team game so the best thing is that we win, and I hope that I can participate in that.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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