Vertonghen demands FA Cup recovery after reality check
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen says Wednesday s FA Cup third round replay against Burnley offers a golden opportunity to make amends for their reality check at Crystal Palace.
Mauricio Pochettino s side started 2015 in memorable fashion as they thrashed Premier League leaders Chelsea 5-3 at White Hart Lane. But Tottenham haven t won since then as a 1-1 draw at Burnley in the FA Cup was followed by a dispiriting 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The north Londoners had been on course to secure three points after Harry Kane s opener, only to lose their momentum completely as struggling Palace stole the points thanks to goals from Dwight Gayle and Jason Puncheon.
Tottenham were aggrieved to denied the chance to rescue a point when referee Anthony Taylor waved away Kane s penalty appeals after being taken down by Joe Ledley. Regardless of that controversy, the loss was a major blow to Tottenham s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League as they dropped down to sixth place. But Belgium international Vertonghen hopes the visit of Burnley to White Hart Lane will provide an opportunity to get back on track quickly, as well as securing a fourth round home tie against Leicester.
Asked if it was a reality check after the Chelsea win, the Belgium international said: "Yes. There is no point winning against Chelsea and then losing at Palace. "I think we were a bit unlucky. I think we were the better team. "They dropped off and I think they made the first mistake, but then we made mistakes at the end. "We have been very stupid to drop these points. Once again we have failed to jump up to fourth place. "We have to go for fourth place, but we are still playing in three other competitions. Maybe fourth place and a trophy?"
Burnley are currently 14 points below Tottenham, and just one place above the relegation, and would gladly sacrifice an FA Cup run if they could guarantee avoiding relegation from the top-flight. The Clarets lost 2-1 at Spurs in December, but Sean Dyche s side head to the Lane in confident mood after a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers QPR on Saturday. And Scottish midfielder Scott Arfield, who opened the scoring at Turf Moor, knows a victory against Spurs would give another major boost to his team s confidence.
"It was a massive win (against QPR). It s been well documented how important these sorts of games are going to be," Arfield said after his first goal since the opening game of the season. "The next clutch of games are important but none more so than the next one which is Tottenham away. "It s the FA Cup and that s what you want to be involved in so we certainly won t be going down there to make up the numbers. "It s no less important than beating QPR so we ll go there and try to win."