‘Lions Ready to Pounce’

The Economic Times - - Sports - Mark Og­den Abhishek Takle

Harry Kane warned Le­ices­ter City that Tot­ten­ham are ready to fight them all the way for the Premier League ti­tle af­ter scor­ing twice in the 4 - 0 win at Stoke which moved Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s team to within five points of the lead­ers.

Kane took his tally for the sea­son to 24 league goals, with Dele Alli scor­ing the other two, as Tot­ten­ham re­sponded em­phat­i­cally to Le­ices­ter’s fail­ure to win at home to West Ham on Sun­day. Eng­land for­ward Kane had posted an im­age of lions pre­par­ing to pounce in the wake of Le­ices­ter drop­ping points and he in­sisted af­ter the vic­tory at Stoke that the pic­ture was de­signed to prove Tot­ten­ham’s readi­ness to take ad­van­tage of any sign of weak­ness by Clau­dio Ranieri’s play­ers.

“It was a few lions ready to pounce,” Kane said. “Ob­vi­ously af­ter watch­ing the Le­ices­ter game, they dropped a cou­ple of points and I was itch­ing to play and I had to wait an­other day and a half to get out on the pitch.

"It was a bit of fun, but you never know. I just want to play. “We have got an­other cou­ple of Mon­day night games and we al­ways seem to be the last to play, but we are ready, we want to be out there and en­joy­ing our foot­ball.

“But we are not go­ing any­where. We have got to keep do­ing what we are do­ing and we can’t do any more than that.

“We could have scored 6 or 7 and this was prob­a­bly one of our best per­for­mances of the sea­son. It was a clean sheet as well.”

De­spite the risk of goad­ing Le­ices­ter and then slip­ping up, Po­chet­tino in­sisted he was happy for Kane to post the pic­ture of lions ahead of the Stoke game.

“It is a good thing be­cause it shows how is the group, how is our squad,” Po­chet­tino said. “We can win or not, but the de­sire and pas­sion we show and how we en­joy the game is fan­tas­tic.

“It is a plea­sure to work with them. Ev­ery day I en­joy on the train­ing ground.

“The play­ers trust in them­selves, the way they play. For that they can show this per­for­mance in a very dif­fi­cult sta­dium against a very good team like Stoke. To­day you can say it was a per­fect per­for­mance.” With four games to play, Tot­ten­ham must bridge a five point gap to win the club’s first league ti­tle since 1961.

Po­chet­tino in­sists that Spurs still have time to reel in Ranieri’s team, who face Swansea at the King Power Sta­dium in their next game on Sun­day.

“We will see,” Po­chet­tino said. “We need to be­lieve that is pos­si­ble.

“It is good for the com­pe­ti­tion that we are in be­hind to try and put pres­sure on Le­ices­ter. I feel very proud.

Our sup­port­ers were fan­tas­tic and they feel proud of us. I think it is an ex­cit­ing mo­ment for the club. “We need to fol­low the same way and we need to try. In foot­ball all can hap­pen and we need to be there. If Le­ices­ter fail, we need to be there.

“I am very fo­cused on our team but all can hap­pen in foot­ball. The most im­por­tant thing is the per­for­mance we showed to­day was per­fect.

“It is a big sig­nal. We are there wait­ing and fight­ing.” L e wi s H a mi lt o n wa s left scroung­ing for pos­i­tives a mid t he shat tered re - mai n s o f h i s v i c t o r y hopes fol­low­ing a “horri fy­ing” Chi­nese Grand Prix that c apped a t r yi ng week­end for t he reign­ing world cham­pion. Hamil­ton had headed into the week­end aim­ing to kick-start his ti­tle de­fence and turn the ta­bles on team-mate Nico Rosberg by rac­ing to his maiden vic­tory of the sea­son. In­stead what he came away with af­ter a week­end marred by mis­for­tune was a gap­ing 36-point deficit in the ti­tle stand­ings to the Ger­man. “How would you ex­pect me to feel?” Hamil­ton, who fin­ished seventh de­spite hav­ing started dead-last asked jour­nal­ists af­ter the race in which Rosberg cruised to third straight win of the sea­son and sixth in a row. “It’s been awk­ward but th­ese things hap­pen and th­ese things are sent to try us.” The Bri­ton’s week­end be­gan to un­ravel be­fore a wheel had even been turned, when his Mercedes team con­firmed on Thurs­day that he would take a five-place grid penalty for an un­sched­uled gear­box change. That meant the high­est that Hamil­ton, on pole in Shang­hai the last two years and the most suc­cess­ful driver at the track with four wins, could start Sun­day’s race was from sixth.

Driv­ing the fastest car in the field, he would still have a chance for vic­tory. But his hopes were dealt a fa­tal blow in qual­i­fy­ing on Satur­day when a lack of power from his Mercedes en­gine forced him back into the pits with­out set­ting a time.

With Rosberg on pole, it was go­ing to be a race of dam­age lim­i­ta­tion for him. What­ever slim hopes Hamil­ton may have had of get­ting on to the podium also evap­o­rated early on in the race, af­ter first-cor­ner con­tact with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr dis­lodged his front wing which, wedged un­der­neath his Mercedes, dam­aged its f loor cost­ing him vi­tal per­for­mance.

Nev­er­the­less, he took this lat­est set­back in his stride just as he had all oth­ers that week­end. “There were some good ex­pe­ri­ences, at one point where I went around some­one on the out­side through turn seven and then through the out­side of some­one at turn eight,” Hamil­ton said.

“I love do­ing that stuff, you know ... so there were some proud mo­ments for sure to­day.”

In­deed, Hamil­ton’s un­wa­ver­ing poise in the face of ad­ver­sity has sur­prised many ob­servers this week­end. He hasn’t al­ways han­dled set­backs well in the past, par­tic­u­larly in 2014 when he strug­gled against a sim­i­lar run of bad luck. How­ever, back then Hamil­ton found him­self in a po­si­tion to chal­lenge for the cham­pi­onship for the first time since he claimed his maiden ti­tle tri­umph in 2008. In the six years since he had been forced to watch from the side­lines un­able to take the fight to Se­bas­tian Vet­tel who romped to fourstraight ti­tles in his Adrian Newey­de­signed Red Bull.

With a 4-0 win over Stoke, Spurs’ Harry Kane has sent out a strong mes­sage to Le­ices­ter. Tot­ten­ham trail top­pers Foxes by five points with four games to go



Fi­nally in the most dom­i­nant car in the field, the frus­tra­tions mounted as his chal­lenge was re­peat­edly blunted by re­li­a­bil­ity woes. But, win­ning his third world ti­tle last year and sec­ond in a row, seems to have given Hamil­ton t he abi lit y to t a ke face ad­ver­sit y with equa­nim­ity. The statis­tics may not favour him – no driver in the past who has won the open­ing three races in a sea­son or six in a row has gone on to lose the ti­tle. But where at times in the past Hamil­ton has been his own worst en­emy, he is now in a place where as he puts it, “very lit­tle if any­thing can get to him.” That makes him a for­mi­da­ble force with 18 races still to go in a record 21race sea­son. And Rosberg knows it. The cham­pi­onship has been won by driv­ers who have claimed vic­tory in the open­ing three races nine times in the past. But as the Ger­man said af­ter Sun­day’s race, “They didn’t have Lewis Hamil­ton as a team-mate, those other nine."

Dele Alli scored two out of four Hot­spur's goals against Stoke

Eng­land and Tot­ten­ham for­ward Harry Kane posted the pic­ture of the lions (C) for Le­ices­ter City

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