Spurs boss has loftier goals than fourth place

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that he will not be content with a top-four finish even though Tottenham are facing a fight to qualify for next year's Champions League.

Seventh-placed Spurs are three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool (34) in the Premier League table, and face sixth-placed Burnley (32) at Turf Moor today.

Asked at his pre-match press conference on Thursday if he would be happy should his side finish fourth, the Argentinian manager said: "No. Do I want higher than that? Yes, of course. I am not a comfortable person. I love to take a risk. I feel I am a winner."

Pochettino also backed his men to bounce back from their 4-1 defeat by leaders Manchester City last weekend - their second loss in five league games.

"The reaction will be good," he vowed. "The team trust each other and what we are doing."

Breaking down the hosts today, however, will be a challenge.

No team in the Premier League have a better defensive record than Burnley, who have conceded just 12 goals in 18 league matches.

Sean Dyche's side have kept clean sheets in each of their last three games, including the 0-0 draw at Brighton, although that point came at a cost as centre-back James Tarkowski was retrospectively banned for three matches by the Football Association on Thursday, after admitting to violent conduct.

The suspension means Kevin Long will slot in alongside Ben Mee in central defence, while Matt Lowton may return at right-back after five games out with a knee injury. Dyche said: "We're a little bit stretched for the first time with injuries and, when you add in a suspension, it does make things stretched."

Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez is back following a three-match ban and Pochettino is hopeful that two more key men - Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama - can also feature during this busy period.

Centre-back Alderweireld is recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered against Real Madrid last month while Wanyama, absent with a knee problem since August, is back in full training but ruled out of today's clash.

"We will see when he can be involved again. Last season, he was such an important player for us," Pochettino said of the defensive midfielder. "And this season, it's true. In a position that you need to be strong, we have missed a player like him."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2017, with the headline 'Spurs boss has loftier goals than fourth place'. Print Edition | Subscribe