Plenty of twists left in season

West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang (far right) celebrating his wonder strike with team-mate Pablo Zabaleta. The Hammers earned a 1-1 draw with Spurs at Wembley on Thursday with the hosts missing many chances.
West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang (far right) celebrating his wonder strike with team-mate Pablo Zabaleta. The Hammers earned a 1-1 draw with Spurs at Wembley on Thursday with the hosts missing many chances.PHOTO: REUTERS

Pochettino confident Tottenham can make up ground on top four after West Ham slip-up

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino insists he is not concerned about Tottenham missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League despite their damaging 1-1 draw against West Ham.

Pochettino's side had to settle for a point in Thursday's London derby at Wembley after missing a host of chances as they failed to turn their domination into goals.

"I'm not worried, we are in the middle of the season. We missed an opportunity today but I think we are close," he said.

Tottenham needed a superb long-range strike from South Korean Son Heung Min with just six minutes left to avoid defeat after Pedro Obiang's equally stunning long-range blast had given West Ham a shock second-half lead.

Spurs are now three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool (44) in the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

But Pochettino is still confident his team will book a return to Europe's elite-club competition.

The Argentinian was adamant Spurs were unlucky after West Ham sat back so deep that Obiang's 70th-minute goal was their first shot of the entire match. They had made 18 attempts by then.

  • 0 West Ham became the first side to fail to record a single first-half attempt in two separate Premier League matches this season. The other was in November during their 4-0 defeat by Everton.

    10 Tottenham Hotspur have taken 10 points from their festive fixtures - the joint most along with Manchester City and Liverpool.

    12 Son Heung Min has been directly involved in 12 goals (7 goals, 5 assists) in his last nine games in all competitions at Wembley.

SEASON ENDS IN MAY

I'm not worried, we are in the middle of the season. We missed an opportunity today but I think we are close. We deserved to win but football is like this.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, feels his side are still within touching distance of a top-four place despite dropping points to the Hammers.

But the Tottenham manager conceded that his side must improve their finishing after England striker Harry Kane could not convert several chances on a rare off-night.

"I'm very pleased with the effort but very unhappy with the result," Pochettino said.

"We deserved to win but football is like this and we have to accept that. To play and run like that after two games in 48 hours deserves credit. But we had to score and be effective in front of goal.

"Normally we would finish 3-1, 4-1, 5-1 but it wasn't like this."

He refused to condemn West Ham manager David Moyes for adopting such a defensive game plan. By the final whistle, Spurs had 70 per cent of the ball and 31 attempts at goal to West Ham's three.

"West Ham defended properly. We tried different ways, we dominated but sometimes you don't get what you deserve. You need luck to score," Pochettino added.

Moyes' side are two points above the relegation zone as they maintained their impressive revival since the former Manchester United boss replaced the sacked Slaven Bilic.

While Moyes acknowledged West Ham had not produced an entertaining display, he refused to apologise for grinding out a valuable point in the battle against relegation.

"I'm thrilled to come away with a point. Spurs have some really exciting young talent.

"I have seen them beat Real Madrid here, beat teams by four or five," the Scot said.

"We have scored a goal and so have they, so they can have as many shots as they like.

"We're miles away from how I want us to play but we are doing some things right.

"We are defending well which gives us a chance against the top teams. I thought we showed fantastic resilience.

"Because of the gulf between the top four and the rest, football is played in different ways. We had to come here and get our blocks in."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'Plenty of twists left in season'. Print Edition | Subscribe