Bragging rights no longer Spurs' aim

Tottenham forward Son Heung Min might make way for the fit-again Harry Kane despite scoring twice against Watford last week. Spurs are trying to ramp up the pressure on leaders Chelsea ahead of their clash at Manchester United, with a home win agains
Tottenham forward Son Heung Min might make way for the fit-again Harry Kane despite scoring twice against Watford last week. Spurs are trying to ramp up the pressure on leaders Chelsea ahead of their clash at Manchester United, with a home win against Bournemouth.PHOTO: REUTERS

With arch-rivals Arsenal 14 points behind, Tottenham's main goal is to chase the Blues

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur have "bigger things" in their sights than finishing above Arsenal this season, as they step up their pursuit of Premier League leaders Chelsea, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham last finished above Arsenal in 1995, but have a 14-point advantage over their north London rivals this season, albeit having played a game more.

Today's home game against Bournemouth, however, presents an opportunity to trim Chelsea's lead to four points, and that is the only thing on Pochettino's mind.

"We're playing and fighting for bigger things," the Argentinian said on Thursday. "It's not important, the gap we have with Arsenal. The most important thing is to do our job, try to win games and try to reduce the gap with Chelsea."

Tottenham eroded Chelsea's lead last weekend when they crushed Watford 4-0 at White Hart Lane, only for Antonio Conte's men to restore their seven-point advantage by winning 3-1 at Bournemouth.

But with Chelsea facing a testing trip to Manchester United tomorrow - where they have not won since 2013 - another Spurs home win will pile the pressure back on the Blues.

"It is always nice to play first. Hopefully we can narrow the gap to four points, and then hope for them to slip up," midfielder Eric Dier told NBC Sports.

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Should Tottenham prevail today, they will have won seven successive games for the first time in the post-1992 Premier League era.

Having made his return from injury against Watford, Harry Kane, who has scored 24 goals in all competitions this season, may make his first start in almost five weeks.

Pochettino believes he is fully capable of reaching the 30-goal mark by the time the season is out.

"He's now fit again, available to play, and he's in a very good condition. He's very fresh in his body and his mind, and he's very hungry to score again," said Pochettino.

Midfielder Victor Wanyama is also available after overcoming a back complaint. But winger Erik Lamela and young midfielder Harry Winks remain sidelined with hip and ankle injuries respectively.

Seven points clear of the relegation zone with six games to play, Bournemouth appear to be safe, but their fans will want a few more points on the board before they start celebrating survival.

Eddie Howe's side saw a five-game unbeaten run ended by Chelsea, and are still waiting for their first away win of this year.

"We know we need more points so we are desperate to do that and, if we don't do that in our next game, we have got five other games to do so," said Howe.

Howe will be able to call upon Tyrone Mings after the defender completed a five-match suspension for stamping on Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Midfielder Dan Gosling is doubtful due to a knee injury, but winger Junior Stanislas could feature after making good progress in his recovery from a groin strain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Bragging rights no longer Spurs' aim'. Print Edition | Subscribe