Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino: We have more FA Cup experience now
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham are more experienced than a year ago, when they lost to Chelsea in last season's FA Cup, but he warned it will count for nothing if they do not perform in Saturday's semifinal against Manchester United.
The 4-2 defeat to Chelsea was Spurs' fourth failure to win in five matches at Wembley Stadium last season but they have recorded landmark victories against Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United since making the national stadium their temporary home at the start of the season.
Pochettino's team face United on Saturday, hoping to end a run of seven consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeats -- a competition record -- and Pochettino called on his team to replicate their Autumn home form, when they beat Dortmund and European champions Real 3-1 and Liverpool 4-1.
"We have the belief that we can beat many teams, and we have more experience [than last year]," the Spurs manager said. "But I don't believe that is going to be the key to winning the game.
"We have a different level of experience now and that's always an important thing. But we need more than experience and maturity to win on Saturday.
"The most important thing is the performance. If we are able to perform in the way we performed against Real Madrid, Dortmund and Liverpool at home, I think we're going to compete. If not -- with or without experience -- it's going to be difficult."
Chelsea turned last season's semi-final by bringing Eden Hazard and Diego Costa off the bench at 2-2, and Hazard scored their third goal.
Pochettino is expected to name a strong bench against United. including January signing Lucas Moura, Victor Wanyama, Fernando Llorente and one of Son Heung-Min or Erik Lamela.
"We try to improve every season. I'm not going to blame the players that were here before - I never complain or make excuses - but now of course we have players with good experience and good quality on the bench, and that's going to help us," he said.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.