Pochettino asks for improvement from tired Spurs

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino admitted that he is "concerned" after three straight draws called into question Tottenham's ability to stay the course in the Premier League and Champions League.

He acknowledged his players were not "fresh" in Saturday's goal-less draw at Bournemouth, especially in a sluggish opening 15 minutes. The inability to win cost them the chance to top the English table.

Spurs had previously drawn 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion and 0-0 with Bayer Leverkusen, costing them momentum on both the domestic front and in Europe.

"Yes, we are concerned," Pochettino said. "It's true we need to improve if we want to be a real contender. But when you analyse the whole situation, we have to give value to the point because the effort was fantastic. We had some injuries. So I am happy.

"The game was very competitive and very tough. Bournemouth pushed us a lot, but we were not fresh from the beginning."

His defence coped adequately without the injured Toby Alderweireld, but the continued absence of Harry Kane and his ability to create and convert chances meant that Tottenham's goal threat was restricted largely to shots from range.

The news that Kane, who scored five goals against Bournemouth in two victories last season, is "not far away" from a full recovery from his ankle injury was encouraging, if vague.

Pochettino said he did not see an incident in which substitute Moussa Sissoko caught Bournemouth's Harry Arter in the head with his elbow, which left home fans calling for a red card.

But he admitted that fatigue had contributed to four first-half yellow cards - Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Dele Alli.

"We didn't show the freshness where you can anticipate the action," the Spurs manager explained. "We made some bad tackles. Maybe we deserved the yellow cards. But it wasn't bad intention, it was because we felt tired at the beginning."

He paid tribute to Bournemouth's game plan, which involved doing to Tottenham what they usually do to opponents: Press high up the field and beat them for energy and effort.

"I was really proud of the players today," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. "(They) delivered an incredible physical performance, full of endeavour and desire."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino asks for improvement from tired Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe