Pochettino sees 7 teams in title race

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said seven teams still have a chance to win the Premier League this season, dismissing suggestions the title battle has become a two-horse race between his side and Leicester City.

Spurs, who visit Liverpool today, are five points behind Claudio Ranieri's Foxes with seven games to go. But the London team's boss said that he is not discounting the quality of the chasing pack.

Spurs, who are bidding for their first league title since 1961, are six points clear of Arsenal, who have a game in hand, while fourth-placed Manchester City are 15 off top spot.

"For me, at the moment we compete with different teams - not only Leicester, but Arsenal, Manchester City, (Manchester) United, West Ham and Southampton have the possibility (of winning the title)," Pochettino told reporters on Thursday. "It's mathematically possible. Seven games is a lot of points.

"You never know in football. We need to be focused in every game. It's not just a race between Leicester City and us."

Dele Alli has been a key figure in Spurs' title push, scoring seven goals and providing seven assists.

NOT A TWO-HORSE RACE

You never know in football. We need to be focused in every game. It's not just a race between Leicester City and us.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham boss, who refuses to rule out the five teams below his side.

And Pochettino has backed the the 19-year-old to contend with the hype around him, which was increased after managerial legend Alex Ferguson identified Alli as the best young midfielder he has seen since Paul Gascoigne.

This time last year, Alli was preparing with MK Dons for a League One trip to Swindon Town but he is now a central figure for club and country and stands to be a focal point for England at Euro 2016.

He starred in England's 3-2 victory over world champions Germany in Berlin last Saturday, when he was described by the former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus as the best player on the pitch.

Pochettino noted that Alli's life had changed on a grand scale since he completed his £5 million (S$9.6 million) transfer to Tottenham last year and said the teenager's maturity had surprised him. But he expressed his full confidence in Alli's ability to handle the pressure of being in the spotlight.

"I am not worried about the hype," said Pochettino. "He is very calm and very mature. He has managed the pressure and the popularity of being a senior player (at Tottenham) and playing for the national team."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino sees 7 teams in title race'. Print Edition | Subscribe