Dier not prepared to accept second best

LONDON • Eric Dier has demanded that Premier League title contenders Tottenham put pressure on leaders Chelsea with victory over Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane today.

Mauricio Pochettino's second-placed side trail Chelsea by nine points after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by struggling Sunderland on Tuesday.

Chelsea drew at fourth-placed Liverpool and third-placed Arsenal unexpectedly lost at home to Watford, but Tottenham were unable to take advantage at the Stadium of Light.

Tottenham pushed Leicester close last season before having to settle for third behind Arsenal and England international Dier is adamant the players would not settle for a repeat scenario this time.

With Chelsea facing Arsenal, Tottenham could have an opportunity to make up ground on the leaders.

"With the mentality we have here, we would be upset to finish in the same position as last season," Dier said.

"We want to be better and we want to show it. We have improved a lot and I don't think there is anything about us that is lacking."

Tottenham host a Middlesbrough side who are just two points above the relegation zone.

They have gone almost two months since their last league victory and their only away win this season came in August.

But Boro manager Aitor Karanka insisted: "We travel to Tottenham in a really positive frame of mind.

"It's another tough game against one of the best teams in the league who are genuine title contenders.

"We will relish the challenge because it's the kind of game we worked towards for three years when we were in the Championship."

Adlene Guedioura is in line to make his Middlesbrough debut following a deadline-day move from Watford.

The Algeria midfielder recently returned from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Gaston Ramirez (knee) and George Friend (calf) are unavailable while Calum Chambers is a doubt for Boro, whose only wins this year have come against lower league opposition in the FA Cup.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Dier not prepared to accept second best'. Print Edition | Subscribe