Pochettino: Fight still on

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino applauds fans after his side became just the fourth team to win a league game at Turf Moor this season.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino applauds fans after his side became just the fourth team to win a league game at Turf Moor this season.PHOTO: REUTERS

Spurs manager challenges his team to believe that they can still become champions in May

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted his side are "still fighting" for the Premier League title after a 2-0 win at Burnley on Saturday secured a "massive" three points.

Spurs' success at Turf Moor, with their goals scored by Eric Dier and Son Heung Min, came as league leaders Chelsea suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace. The results saw them close to within seven points of London rivals Chelsea, with both sides having nine league games remaining this season.

Pochettino was delighted by his side's achievement in winning away to Burnley, who have nine home victories this season.

The Argentinian said: "It was difficult to play the way we normally play. It's a massive three points for us and we have to still believe and fight for the title."

He is bidding to see Tottenham crowned champions of England for the first time since they did the double in the 1960-61 season, when they also lifted the FA Cup. Spurs are also in the semi-finals of this year's FA Cup.

"We showed great belief and faith and character and that makes me very proud. I think the performance was great, not brilliant, very professional and this is a difficult place," Pochettino said.

He probably made his most significant half-time team talk in his three years at Tottenham and it might have breathed life back into the Premier League title race.

PROUD OF OUR PROFESSIONALISM

We showed great belief and faith and character and that makes me very proud. I think the performance was great, not brilliant, very professional and this is a difficult place.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, on their 2-0 away win against Burnley which cuts Chelsea's lead atop the Premier League to seven points.

Without their talisman Harry Kane, forced into two late first-half alterations, and with a goal-less draw at one of the top flight's toughest grounds beckoning, Pochettino ditched his usual interval routine of analysing the first-half highlights.

Revamping a beleaguered Tottenham and altering their system, he returned to the bench unusually early alongside his assistant Jesus Perez, leaving his players to contemplate the task ahead.

The response to their adversity - Victor Wanyama was forced off with a back injury and Harry Winks taken off after going over on his ankle - was stunning.

With Dier, who seamlessly switched from a position in the back three to one in front of the defensive line, and substitute Mousa Dembele directing traffic, Tottenham's monopoly on second-half possession paid rich dividends as they netted twice.

Of the interval intervention, Pochettino said: "It was a big hit for us, for the team, so it was very important when the players got in to switch on and change things.

"We changed formation. The team needed lifting. It was a very concerning moment but the reaction was really good."

This was Burnley's first home league game since a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Feb 12. However, their return to Turf Moor did little to arrest their current slide and they have now not won since beating Leicester City at home on Jan 31.

Their seven-match winless streak in the league has made some question if they can survive the drop, but manager Sean Dyche remained upbeat and preferred to salute Tottenham rather than slam his own side's display.

"There was not a lot of difference between the teams until the (opening) goal," he said.

"We are getting into good positions but trying to find that final ball is what we are trying to do.

"We knew it was a tough run, we're not delusional, but we're in good shape so we look forward to the next game (against Stoke City tomorrow)."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Pochettino: Fight still on'. Print Edition | Subscribe