Spurs focused on task at hand against Stoke

LONDON • Last week, when Leicester beat Sunderland to go 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League and then Manchester United were delayed getting to White Hart Lane for their game against Tottenham, fans of the north London club grew increasingly uneasy.

This was, after all, the same ground where the team talk of a previous United manager consisted of three words: "Lads, it's Tottenham". But this is a different Spurs side now, one that ran out 3-0 winners in the end against a side who would have embarrassed Alex Ferguson.

"At the moment we have the confidence and the trust in what we do so that it really doesn't matter who we are playing," said Christian Eriksen ahead of another test of the team's nerves. They face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium today - more than 24 hours after Leicester drew against West Ham.

"As long as we work for it," he said. "Manchester United or Stoke on Monday - whatever Leicester do the day before we'll try to beat that."

That is about the extent of the Eriksen's mind games. Earlier in the week, the midfielder sent a text to the Leicester goalkeeper and fellow Denmark international Kasper Schmeichel seeking a restaurant recommendation. They digressed.

"I said to him: 'Good luck winning - or not,'" Eriksen revealed to The Guardian. "And he said the same back."

If he was joking, he is serious when he scoffs at Schmeichel's claim that Leicester are not even thinking about the title.

"Of course they are," he said. "When you are that close and you are coming from the position that they are in, of course they will be looking towards winning the title. Talking to the press, however, you say things a little differently."

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino's message has been consistent of late.

"It is important to be calm and have a clear idea what you need to do," he said, reiterating that his side cannot affect Leicester's results.

While Tottenham are chasing title success, Stoke are hoping to achieve their best-ever points tally in the Premier League. Mark Hughes' side have finished ninth in each of the past two seasons and last term recorded a new high of 54 points. They are seven short of that target with five games to go.

"They won't faze us," the Welshman insisted. "We want to progress year on year." THE TIMES, LONDON,

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs focused on task at hand against Stoke'. Print Edition | Subscribe