Big Match

Complacent? Not Spurs

Tottenham's Hugo Lloris during the Premier League's Everton v Tottenham Hotspur match, on, Dec 23, 2018.
Tottenham's Hugo Lloris during the Premier League's Everton v Tottenham Hotspur match, on, Dec 23, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

Captain Lloris' advice is to take it one game at a time and be wary of being overtaken

Tottenham must not count their chickens before they hatch if they hope to clinch their first Premier League title this term.

Hugo Lloris, captain and goalkeeper of the club whose emblem is the cockerel while a golden one stands atop its White Hart Lane ground, issued the warning before they host a rejuvenated Manchester United tomorrow.

Liverpool lead the league with 54 points from 21 games, champions Manchester City are second on 50, with Spurs third on 48.

"Before we can look ahead of us (at the title), we need to look behind too - there are a few teams," Lloris said at the club's training facility in Enfield yesterday.

"The main thing is to finish in the top four for a third year in a row. We will see where we are at the table in the last 10 games."

A surge from Chelsea (44 points) or Arsenal (41) could threaten their bid for a fourth straight season of lucrative Champions League football. A resurgent United (38), on a four-game winning streak, have also emerged as outsiders for a top-four finish.

Lloris said the most important point of the season has arrived, adding: "February-March-April is the period when you win or lose your chance at the title, so the most important thing is stay focused, and take it game by game."

He knows what it takes; after all, he was the man who led France to World Cup glory in Russia last year.

Spurs have not won a major trophy since the League Cup in 2008. They have reached four Cup semi-finals since he signed from Lyon in 2012 and ended among the Premier League's top three in the last three seasons, including a runner-up finish in 2017.

But he felt the club are on the right path, saying: "My feeling is that we are going in the right way.

"We have so many talented players, we have one of the best managers and we are trying to build something strong and special."

"You cannot get success in one or two seasons, especially if you want to stay at a high level in the long term. Sometimes, it takes longer.

"The main thing is for the players to show their talent and commitment towards the shirt, week in and week out.

"But it's also true that, in football, the only thing people remember are the trophies.

"But it's not too late."

Would a Spurs title come too late for the 32-year-old, one of the club's longest-serving players?

Saying his future is "difficult" to discuss, he said: "I feel really committed, towards the club, people who work in it and the fans. Staying so many years is something very important.

"But you never know, especially in football. I'm only focused on today and tomorrow."

 • The writer's trip was hosted by AIA Singapore.

SEE United's past, present and future to collide

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Complacent? Not Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe