Slug­gish Spurs a worry

> Po­chet­tino ad­mits play­ers not fresh af­ter third draw

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

TOT­TEN­HAM HOT­SPUR man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino ad­mit­ted he is “con­cerned” af­ter three suc­ces­sive draws called into ques­tion his squad’s abil­ity to stay the course in the Premier League and Cham­pi­ons League.

He ac­knowl­edged his play­ers were not “fresh” in Satur­day’s goal­less draw away to Bournemouth, which cost them the chance to top the Premier League ta­ble, es­pe­cially in a slug­gish open­ing 15 min­utes.

Spurs had pre­vi­ously drawn 1-1 with West Bromwich Al­bion and 0-0 with Bayer Lev­erkusen, cost­ing them mo­men­tum on both the do­mes­tic front and in Europe.

“Yes, we are con­cerned,” Po­chet­tino said. “It’s true we need to im­prove if we want to be a real con­tender. It’s true af­ter two games away at West Bromwich and Bournemouth, you must win at least one.

“But when you an­a­lyse the whole sit­u­a­tion, we have to give value to the point be­cause the ef­fort was fan­tas­tic. We had some in­juries. So I am happy.

“The game was very com­pet­i­tive and very tough. Bournemouth pushed us a lot, but we were not fresh from the be­gin­ning.

“Our start was very sloppy, but af­ter 15 min­utes we started to man­age the game.”

The news that Harry Kane is “not far away” from a full re­cov­ery from his an­kle in­jury was en­cour­ag­ing, if vague.

“I’m very pleased af­ter we played in the Cham­pi­ons League and be­fore that in West Bromwich, two tough games, be­cause the play­ers made a very big ef­fort,” said Po­chet­tino.

“But we missed the fresh­ness to be sharp in the last third. Sec­ond half we dom­i­nated, but it was more dif­fi­cult to cre­ate chances to score.”

Po­chet­tino paid trib­ute to Bournemouth’s game plan, which in­volved do­ing to Spurs what they usu­ally do to op­po­nents: press high up the field and beat them for en­ergy and ef­fort.

“I was re­ally proud of the play­ers to­day,” Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe said.

“Prob­a­bly more proud than I was this time last week (when Bournemouth beat Hull City 61), partly be­cause of the qual­ity of the op­po­si­tion we were play­ing against.

“Our game plan was to dis­rupt their rhythm, their nor­mal way of play­ing.

“They’re supremely tal­ented play­ers and we felt our best op­tion was to stop the ball get­ting into the fi­nal third with our work rate and in­ten­sity.

“That’s eas­ier said than done, but the play­ers de­liv­ered an in­cred­i­ble phys­i­cal per­for­mance, full of en­deav­our and de­sire.” – AFP

Bournemouth’s Harry Arter (left) in ac­tion with Tot­ten­ham’s Vic­tor Wanyama dur­ing yes­ter­day’s English Premier League match at the Vi­tal­ity Sta­dium. – REUTERSPIX

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