Football: Tottenham need to move on from Dortmund loss

Tottenham's Dele Alli wants his side to get back on track against Bournemouth after their humbling exit from Europe.
Tottenham's Dele Alli wants his side to get back on track against Bournemouth after their humbling exit from Europe.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

England midfielder says his side must forget Dortmund loss and return to winning form

LONDON • Dele Alli has told his Tottenham team-mates to forget their chastening Europa League exit and focus on making a final push to win the Premier League title.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were given a reality check by Borussia Dortmund as the German club cruised to a 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane on Thursday to complete a 5-1 aggregate success.

The Argentinian admitted that the one-sided last-16 tie showed his team remain way short of the standards set by Europe's elite.

But Tottenham's teenage midfielder Alli insists the humbling defeat will be completely forgotten if the season ends with the north London side lifting the English title for the first time since 1961.

Spurs return to domestic action against Bournemouth today, knowing victory is essential if they want to keep the pressure on leaders Leicester City, who can temporarily extend their advantage to eight points if they win at Crystal Palace 24 hours before Pochettino's men take the field at White Hart Lane.

"We know we are a great team. We can't let this (Europa League exit) dishearten us," Alli said. "We've got to keep the form we've had in the Premier League and carry on until the end of the season.

"It's a bit of a blow for the confidence but it's important that we keep our heads up and in the next game get the three points and get back on track."

After decades of underachievement, Tottenham find themselves in the thick of the title race for the first time in decades and the pressure appeared to get to them recently when they lost to West Ham United and threw away the lead in a draw with 10-man Arsenal.

A 2-0 win at Aston Villa last weekend eased the growing anxiety a little and Alli, whose dynamic displays have played such a significant role in Tottenham's progress this term, is doing his best not to think about the magnitude of the prize his team are chasing.

"We are second in the league. It's important we don't think about that too much and don't get carried away too much with ourselves," the 19-year-old said. "It's just about taking each game as it comes and hopefully being up there at the end of the season."

Pochettino will welcome back Harry Kane, Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen after resting the key trio against Dortmund.

He must also assess the fitness of Eric Dier after the midfielder was injured against Dortmund, while defender Ben Davies is unlikely to feature due to a head injury.

Last weekend's victory over Swansea City effectively guaranteed Bournemouth's first season in the top flight will end with them avoiding relegation.

Cherries manager Eddie Howe has been keen to keep his players motivated by insisting their survival is not guaranteed. But with a 13-point gap between them and the bottom three (before last night's round of matches), it is unthinkable they will go down now.

That means Bournemouth, who have won their last three matches, will make their first ever trip to White Hart Lane in relaxed mood as they look to avenge a 5-1 thrashing by Tottenham in October.

"I don't think there's a point to prove," Cherries winger Matt Ritchie said. "They're having a fantastic season and they're a team we can emulate in ways. But we will go there with a lot of confidence from our three wins on the bounce."

Denting Tottenham's title bid would be the perfect way to sign off before Howe takes his players for a warm-weather training camp during next week's international break.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'SPURS NEED TO MOVE ON'. Print Edition | Subscribe