Football: Spurs will fight to close gap on Foxes

Tottenham's Harry Kane getting off the mark after only 44 seconds against Bournemouth. The 3-0 win kept up the pressure on Leicester.
Tottenham's Harry Kane getting off the mark after only 44 seconds against Bournemouth. The 3-0 win kept up the pressure on Leicester.PHOTO: REUTERS

Pochettino urges Kane, others to believe they can still catch Leicester, who lead by 5 points

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has urged his Tottenham Hotspur players to continue "to fight and believe" the gap to Leicester at the top can be bridged, after his North London football team produced one of their most impressive displays of the season to overwhelm Bournemouth 3-0 on Sunday.

Striker Harry Kane's two goals, establishing him as the English Premier League's leading scorer with 21 and matching his tally from last season, and Christian Eriksen's third enabled Spurs to maintain their pursuit of the leaders.

They trail Leicester by five points with seven games to play in their challenge for a first league title since they won the league and Cup Double under Bill Nicholson 55 years ago.

"It's true that we need to reduce the gap Leicester have with us, Arsenal and Manchester City, and it's true they have a good advantage," said Pochettino. "But we need to keep fighting and believing. We need to believe we can catch them.

"We have to keep our standards up and go into the next game looking to perform like this again."

  • TWENTY-TWENTY VISION

  • Harry Kane is the fifth Englishman in the Premier League era to score 20 goals in consecutive top-flight seasons, and the first Tottenham player to do so since Martin Chivers in the 1970s.

  • Kane (Tottenham)

    21 in 2014-15;

    21 (so far) in 2015-16

  • Alan Shearer (Blackburn)

    31 in 1993-94;

    34 in 1994-95;

    31 in 1995-96;

    25 in 1996-97 (Newcastle)

  • Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)

    25 in 1994-95;

    28 in 1995-96

  • Les Ferdinand (QPR)

    24 in 1994-95;

    25 in 1995-96 (Newcastle)

  • Andrew Cole (Newcastle);

    34 in 1993-94

    21 in 1994-95 (Newcastle, Man United)

  • Last Tottenham player

    Martin Chivers

    21 in 1970-71;

    25 in 1971-72

On the evidence of their emphatic dismissal of Bournemouth, Tottenham are the most credible candidates to take advantage of any slips from Leicester.

With their Europa League campaign ended by Borussia Dortmund last week, Pochettino believes his team will benefit from having extra recovery and training time as they try to overhaul the surprise leaders.

"We go into a different period now," the Argentinian said. "After the international break, we'll play one game every week and we'll have time to prepare. We can improve and do a lot of things that were impossible before.

"We need to see our future in a very good way. It's important to keep working hard and fight in every game."

For Tottenham to catch Leicester, Pochettino knows he needs to keep Kane fit and firing on all cylinders, so he will be keeping his fingers crossed the England forward comes back from the forthcoming international friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands with a clean bill of health.

Kane, who opened the scoring after 44 seconds, is only the fifth English player - after Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and Robbie Fowler - to score 20 league goals in successive seasons since the top division was revamped in 1992.

Pochettino described his striker as "one of the best", with the player insisting Spurs are not growing tense in their game of catch-up.

"With Leicester and Arsenal winning, there was a lot of talk about us having to get a result but we were very calm," said Kane.

"We played well and looked comfortable, and, if you score early, it always settles the nerves.

"Hopefully Leicester will drop points... but of course we believe we can win the league. Why not? We are playing well and are very confident."

After watching his team's run of three successive victories ended in ruthless fashion, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has no doubts about Tottenham's ability to win the title.

"In the first half they moved the ball incredibly well. In the two games against them, without a doubt they have been the best we've faced," said Howe, whose side were thrashed 5-1 by Tottenham in October.

"They work very hard but then they've got the quality of Harry Kane to hurt you."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs will fight to close gap'. Print Edition | Subscribe