Pochettino: Top four is Spurs’ target
Tottenham take on Brighton & Hove Albion aiming cement grip on a European Cup spot
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said he saw enough in his side’s performance against Manchester City to be confident for the future.
Spurs were beaten 3-1 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday in a weekend of results that by Sunday night saw City crowned Premier League champions for a third time.
It was Tottenham’s first taste of defeat since losing to Pep Guardiola’s side in December’s reverse fixture, a run of 14 league games, but Pochettino saw the positives.
“After 14 games unbeaten, it was a massive, massive run for us,” he said. “We played Liverpool, United, Arsenal, Chelsea and [at] 14 games unbeaten I think the players deserve full credit.
“We are disappointed but not frustrated or sad because when we increased our level and showed our real quality we showed we can compete against Manchester City – the best team in England.
“That is why I am not concerned about the future. Yes it was 20 minutes where we were really poor, but I am not worried because I think the team competed really well.”
While City will be lifting the Premier League trophy in a few weeks, Tottenham’s focus is on qualifying for the Uefa Champions League, a target they are well placed to achieve.
They lead Chelsea by seven points and can stretch that to 10 with victory at Brighton & Hove Albion tonight.
“Top four is our challenge and target. It is to finish top four and provide the club next season with the Champions League in the new stadium, that is our target,” Pochettino said. “It is better to finish third or fourth, but the challenge is to be in the top four.”
Pochettino said that Toby Alderweireld could be brought out of the cold for the visit to the AMEX Stadium. The Belgian defender has not been involved in any of the last three matchday squads as his future at the club looks increasingly bleak, having not played in the Premier League since October.
“Yes, Toby is going to be involved in the squad and then tomorrow I will decide if he is going to play or not,” Pochettino said.
Captain Hugo Lloris will also keep his place despite goal-costing errors in the past three games, including giving a penalty away against City on Saturday.
The France goalkeeper has received criticism for his recent form, but Pochettino is standing by his man.
“For me, Hugo Lloris is, from the day that we arrive here, improving every season,” he said.
“For me, today he is one of the best keepers in the world and for me there’s no doubt.
“But you know the perception sometimes, you need to respect the people’s perception.
“I don’t know, because I don’t read [it].
“But for me Hugo Lloris is doing fantastic, for me he is one of the best keepers in the world and for me there is no doubt about him.”
Danny Rose is still missing with a calf injury and Harry Winks remains in Qatar as he recovers from an ankle injury.
To finish top four and provide the club next season with Champions League in the new stadium, that is our target MAURICIO POCHETTINO Tottenham Hotspur manager
With players such as Dele Alli, above, and Harry Kane, Mauricio Pochettino is positive on Tottenham Hotspur’s future