Southampton travel to the Stadium of Light knowing that a victory will kill off any lingering fears of relegation, and having suffered a late defeat at Spurs last weekend, Pochettino says his players are primed for an important game for both teams.
“They’re aware that they performed a lot better than in the game against West Bromwich, and we’ve trained well, prepared well for the game ahead against Sunderland, so now we’re in the right state of mind mentally to play this weekend.
“I think it’s equally important for both teams, but both teams will be equally prepared for a big battle, and we’re very much aware that a victory for us would put us a couple of positions higher in the table so that’s what we want.”
Pochettino will line up against Paolo Di Canio on the touchline for the first time, and had praise for the way that his counterpart has taken to his new role.
“He’s doing an amazing job,” Pochettino said. “He has been able to transmit his character onto the team and, as with all colleagues we want to wish him the best, after the game on Sunday though, of course.
“Our obligation is to win our next game and that’s what it will be against Sunderland because in football, you can never be too relaxed.”
Wigan’s defeat to Swansea during the week means that the Latics require two wins from their two remaining games to overhaul Saints if Pochettino’s men fail to record any further points, and the gaffer admitted that he has studied the form of his rivals.
“It’s something mathematical that applies not just in England but every single league,” he said in reference to the number of points required. “We’re aware that there are points that we still need to win which is what we will try to do in the next two games.
“It’s only logical that we look out for other results, but we tend to focus on what we do as a team. It’s inevitable that we take a look at the teams that are close to us and what they do in their respective games.”
Pochettino confirmed that there are doubts over Emmanuel Mayuka’s availability this weekend with the striker granted compassionate leave in the week, but the frontman will be assessed upon his return to Southampton on Saturday.
“Mayuka had to travel to Zambia on Tuesday because of the death of his father, so I want to send my deepest condolences to him and his family,” the manager stated. “He’ll arrive back tomorrow and we’ll then see if he’s able to play on Sunday or not.
“Also, Morgan Schneiderlin and Maya Yoshida had problems earlier in the week so we’re not sure if they’re going to be able to play on Sunday.
“We will look at their last training session tomorrow.”