Spurs need rapid improvement

Leverkusen's Kevin Kampl scoring the only goal of the game past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at Wembley. The loss extended Spurs' winless run in all competitions to six games, with the north London derby next.
Leverkusen's Kevin Kampl scoring the only goal of the game past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at Wembley. The loss extended Spurs' winless run in all competitions to six games, with the north London derby next.PHOTO: REUTERS

They face Arsenal after 'embarrassing' loss and must win final 2 Champions League ties

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino is convinced Tottenham Hotspur have to win their remaining Champions League group games against Monaco and CSKA Moscow if they want to stay in the competition.

His frustration was evident as he nursed what he described as an "embarrassing" feeling after the 1-0 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley on Wednesday.

Tottenham have now lost each of their ties at England's national stadium, having been beaten 2-1 by Monaco in September. But Pochettino refused to blame the club's temporary home for European games.

Instead, he turned the focus inward and what was clear was that his team would have to improve quickly for Sunday's English Premier League derby at Arsenal.

Harry Kane is fighting to return at the Emirates Stadium, after an ankle ligament injury, but Pochettino said that it would be "difficult" for Toby Alderweireld to recover in time from his knee problem.

"We must win in Monaco, or else we can forget the Champions League and if we win in Monaco, we must beat CSKA Moscow or bye-bye Champions League," the Argentinian said after Tottenham's winless run in all competitions extended to six games.

"We can make a lot of excuses but a psychological block with Wembley? If I wanted to make an excuse, I would say yes. But it is not true. Tell me one place better to play than Wembley? We had 85,000 fans watching us and it was embarrassing for me.

"You cannot blame Wembley. We need to show more. We need to put ourselves in front of the mirror and say, 'Come on, we must improve.'

"The first game at Wembley may have been an accident but to do it again, something must be wrong and we need to find out what. We are in a bad moment and we need to be critical and honest."

His opposite number, Roger Schmidt, celebrated a much-needed victory that eased the pressure on the manager after a poor run in the German Bundesliga.

Kevin Kampl's close-range effort after 65 minutes gave Leverkusen their first win on English soil in 10 attempts, to move them above Tottenham into second place in Group E. Spurs have four points, two behind Leverkusen.

"From the start we were courageous and bold. In the second half we were solid and strong in defence after we scored," said Schmidt.

Monaco defeated fourth-placed CSKA Moscow 3-0 to lead the standings on eight points and take a big step towards a place in the last 16.

If Tottenham lose in Monaco and Leverkusen beat CSKA Moscow, the Londoners would be eliminated before the final round of group games kick off.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs need rapid improvement'. Print Edition | Subscribe