Pochettino dismisses fatigue as a factor for Spurs' loss

LONDON • A fortnight rich with potential for Tottenham Hotspur has also become one full of pitfalls.

After their exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Crystal Palace on Sunday, it is no longer about juggling and prioritising competitions but making sure things get back on track quickly.

There is little time for an inquisition, with Tottenham meeting Fiorentina in the Europa League round of 32, second leg on Thursday after the 1-1 draw last week, and London derbies against West Ham United and Arsenal in the space of four days next week.

Mauricio Pochettino, the head coach, dismissed fatigue as a factor in a 1-0 defeat that ended a run of seven consecutive domestic wins for his Tottenham side.

He would almost certainly take the view that winning becomes a habit, no matter how many games they play, although some of their fans would say that the consolation of departing the Cup will be that they can concentrate on their title bid with 12 league games left.

Those remaining fixtures include meetings with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.

They will need to be sharper and more clinical in front of goal and have to cope with the type of doughty challenge posed by Palace, especially when they took the lead through Martin Kelly in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Josh Onomah was lively and tricky coming off the flank but he missed two chances from close range, while Dele Alli had a shot that struck the inside of both posts before being hacked clear.

"It is important to realise when you create more chances and didn't score, this is impossible to win," Pochettino said. "It wasn't our day.

"In this very tough period, every game that we play is a final. You know that in one month we have 10 games, that is very difficult. We feel very disappointed because we deserved more. In football when you don't score it's (more) difficult to play. It was our mistake. The effort was big from the players, and we didn't get the victory."

Palace's win has boosted manager Alan Pardew's hopes that his side - currently lying 13th - can still have the best season in the Premier League.

"We can still finish higher than 10th - that was our best last year," he said. "We can still have the best season Crystal Palace has ever had."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino dismisses fatigue as a factor for Spurs' loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe