Champs league a detriment to Spurs' EPL form

Christian Eriksen being mobbed by his Spurs team-mates (from far left) Moussa Dembele, Son Heung Min and Harry Kane after the Danish midfielder's 74th-minute strike in the 5-1 thrashing of Stoke on Saturday. Tottenham will look to move back up the ta
Christian Eriksen being mobbed by his Spurs team-mates (from left) Moussa Dembele, Son Heung Min and Harry Kane after the Danish midfielder's 74th-minute strike in the 5-1 thrashing of Stoke on Saturday. Tottenham will look to move back up the table starting with Brighton at home on Wednesday, with their title challenge having faltered in recent weeks.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Pochettino says team can now focus on league after sealing last-16 spot in Europe

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has called on his Tottenham side to show their "true quality" consistently and prove they can challenge on multiple fronts.

Spurs demolished Stoke 5-1 at Wembley on Saturday, ending a run of four Premier League games without a win.

But they are still 15 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who were set to face Manchester United yesterday, and Pochettino suggested that some of their slip-ups earlier in the campaign were down to their desire to show progress in the Champions League.

"Last season, we were frustrated because we were very good in the league, but we were a disaster in the Champions League," the Spurs manager, whose men were knocked out of the group stage of Europe's elite club competition last term before finishing second in the top flight, told the BBC.

"This season, the team was so determined to show they can compete in the Champions League and, when you mix with the Premier League, that maybe was a bit of a distraction.

"Maybe that was the reason. But now we can only be focused on the Premier League and winning games. It's important to be ready for the next game on Wednesday."

  • 33

  • Premier League goals Harry Kane has scored this calendar year. With four games left, he is three short of Alan Shearer's record set in 1995 .

With the Champions League resuming only in February and Spurs in the last 16, they can concentrate on domestic matters, starting with the visit of Brighton on Wednesday.

"Consistency between now and the end of the season is so important if we want to finish in the top four. The team showed their true quality," Pochettino added after watching Son Heung Min (53rd minute), Harry Kane (54th, 65th) and Christian Eriksen (74th) score following Ryan Shawcross' 21st-minute own goal.

The Stoke defender grabbed a consolation in the 80th minute.

The mauling at Wembley means the Potters are alone in losing to another top-flight club by four or more goals in four successive games. Spurs had previously beaten Stoke 4-0 three times in a row.

Kane's brace also saw him reach 50 goals for club and country in 48 games and claim an individual record. He is the first Englishman to score at least a half-century of goals in a calendar year for club and country since Dixie Dean.

"This league tests you week in week out," said Stoke manager Mark Hughes.

"We couldn't deal with their power and pace. We struggled in one-on-one situations, we needed to get tighter."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Champs league a detriment to Spurs' EPL form'. Print Edition | Subscribe