Claudio Ranieri was “pleased” with his players despite his much-changed Leicester side losing 2-0 to Tottenham in the FA Cup on Wednesday night.
With both clubs nicely positioned for a sustained assault on a top-four finish in the Premier League and the lure of the riches on offer for Champions League qualification becoming a more tangible possibility with every passing week, it was clear from the team selections where the priority lay.
Both managers made eight changes from the sides they sent out in the Premier League at the weekend. Leicester boss Ranieri initially swapped nine players but Ritchie De Laet was injured during the warm up so Danny Simpson kept his place. Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Drinkwater also remained. Pochettino retained Eric Dier, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.
Asked if his selection for the FA Cup third-round replay showed he was favouring trying to sustain Leicester’s surprise Premier League title challenge over a cup run, Ranieri replied: “No. Our priority is this also.
“I want to see all my players – like Pochettino, he also changed a lot of players.
“But for this reason, I say we fight face to face with Tottenham. Leicester fight for four matches with Tottenham and it is good.
“I am not disappointed with the performance. We play Tottenham four times – won one, lost one and two draws. Tottenham I remember in 2000 when I was here, they try to achieve, or achieve, all the time in Europe.
“Now in the last two or three years, they are building a team to win the league and to achieve the Champions League.
“Our journey starts today. I change a lot of players and if we fight very well against this team then I am very pleased with my players.
“When I say our journey starts tonight, it is true because we played at the same level against a big team. Our way is a very good line to follow.”