Spurs must go on winning run

Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen celebrating scoring Spurs' first goal with English defender Danny Rose in their 3-0 home league win over Hull in midweek. Manager Mauricio Pochettino says the team need to wipe out any negative thoughts after their
Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen celebrating scoring Spurs' first goal with English defender Danny Rose in their 3-0 home league win over Hull in midweek. Manager Mauricio Pochettino says the team need to wipe out any negative thoughts after their Champions League exit.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

While they are a little better at this stage than last term, rivals are much improved

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham have no margin for error as they try to make up ground in the title race with a league win against Burnley today.

His side currently occupy fifth place in the Premier League table after last season's tilt at the title saw them pipped by Leicester and then fall behind Arsenal on the final day.

That top-four finish qualified them for the Champions League but failure to get beyond the group stage of Europe's elite club competition this term has left a cloud of disappointment over White Hart Lane.

Pochettino knows his team must start putting together a winning run over Christmas to remain in the title hunt.

"Maybe we feel disappointed for the Champions League and the expectations were, from the beginning, too high," the Argentinian said. "But it's true that after 16 games in the Premier League we have four points more (than this stage last season).

"And we can see that we have improved a bit from last season but that feeling is difficult to put away because the disappointment, the frustration with the Champions League killed a little bit of the positives of what we are doing from the beginning of the season."

If Spurs have maintained their level last season, it is also true that Chelsea have improved theirs, as have Liverpool to join Arsenal and Manchester City in the top four.

"Liverpool or Chelsea are not involved in European competition and their investment in the summer was massive," Pochettino added.

"It's normal that they improved their squad in the summer but I think we are in a different project, a different philosophy, and we need to take the positive things.

"Sometimes we have too much focus on negative things."

Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele is doubtful with a foot injury and the Burnley game comes too soon for Erik Lamela (hip) and Vincent Jansson (ankle).

Burnley will be looking to improve on Wednesday's trip to London, which ended in a 1-0 defeat by West Ham.

The Clarets were timid in the first 45 minutes but dominated the second period without reward and manager Sean Dyche is keen for a repeat of the latter rather than the former.

"You can't afford just one good half at Tottenham," he said.

"Mauricio Pochettino has done a brilliant job there along with his players, and they're a force to be reckoned with this season without a shadow of a doubt.

"We've got to be realistic about the challenge. There's been good signs, we created chances. It's tough home or away in this league, certainly for clubs like ourselves.

"But we've got to take care of business. In a few away games this season the opposition have been better than us, and we have to take responsibility."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOTTENHAM V BURNLEY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs must go on winning run'. Print Edition | Subscribe