Tottenham can join the greats

Spurs skipper credits manager for team's progress, which he believes will continue

LONDON • Prior to Premier League leaders Leicester City's match against Swansea yesterday, Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri had a message for his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino.

"Mauricio, you can wait," said the Italian, referring to Spurs' chase for a first top-flight title since 1961. "Wait for one more year."

Prior to Spurs' clash with West Bromwich Albion today, Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris also had a message for all of their rivals: If the Londoners do not win the title next month, they can do so next year.

"We are in a good way to become a great team," the France international said of the youngest side in England's top-flight. "It will be interesting what will happen next season, but we are improving every month so it's not about this season. It's also about the next season and, yeah, the project of the gaffer.

"The credit is for (Pochettino). I think he has changed it all, inside the training ground, inside the squad. It's about his mentality, his personality," he told the Express.

UNIQUELY SPURS

We feel we have improved a lot and we have a real identity now. Our fans are very proud of the way we play good football.

HUGO LLORIS, Tottenham goalkeeper, on the team's sparkling performance in the Premier League this season.

"We feel we have improved a lot and we have a real identity now. Our fans are very proud of the way we play good football. We can feel the appetite of the team getting bigger and bigger. Now we feel we are ready to compete with any team."

Spurs are unbeaten in six league matches - a run that helped them close the gap on leaders Leicester to five points after 34 matches.

While Tottenham have hit peak form at the right time, West Brom make a second trip to north London in five days as they attempt to avoid their season from petering out.

The Baggies were beaten 0-2 at Arsenal on Thursday, and with 41 points on the board and safety effectively secure, Tony Pulis' side appear to be marking time until the close-season, although the manager is refusing to accept that theory.

The Welshman says his side should be relishing the chance to take on a club in the title mix.

"I think they're great games," he said. "We'll be given no chance to get anything at Tottenham like we were given no chance to get anything at Manchester City (where they lost 1-2 on April 9) so the pressure's not on us."

Pochettino knows the pressure is on his men and challenged them to focus on their performances.

"Like always, we expect a very tough game," he told Spurs' official website. "We know that we are in a period where we must win to still believe in our dream of winning the title. There's no repeating this to the players, we say nothing because they know and we all know that this is a very important game for us."

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TOTTENHAM V WEST BROM

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Tottenham can join the greats'. Print Edition | Subscribe