London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham have no margin for error as they try to make up ground in the title race with a win against Burnley on Sunday.
Pochettino’s side currently occupy fifth place in the Premier League table after last season’s tilt at the title saw them pipped by Leicester and then fall behind Arsenal on the final day.
That top four finish qualified them for the Champions League but failure to get beyond the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition this term has left a cloud of disappointment over White Hart Lane.
And with Premier League leaders Chelsea already 10 points clear of their London rivals, Tottenham boss Pochettino knows his team must put together a winning run over Christmas to remain in the title hunt.
“Maybe we feel disappointed for the Champions League and the expectations were, from the beginning, too high,” Pochettino said.
“But it’s true that after 16 games in Premier League we have four points more (than this stage last season) and the gap with the second in the table is four points and 10 with the top with Chelsea.
“We can see that we have improved a bit from last season but that feeling is difficult to put away because the disappointment, the frustration with the Champions League that killed a little bit the positives of what we are doing from the beginning of the season.”
If Spurs have maintained their level it is also true that Chelsea have improved theirs, as have Liverpool to join Arsenal and Manchester City in the top four.
– Different philosophy –
“Liverpool or Chelsea are not involved in European competition and their investment in the summer was massive,” Pochettino added.
“It’s normal that they improve on the summer their squad but I think we need to compare with us and try to improve every season.
“We are in a different project, a different philosophy, and we need to take the positive things. Sometimes we have too much focus on negative things.”
Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele is doubtful with a foot injury and the Burnley game comes too soon for Erik Lamela (hip) and Vincent Jansson (ankle).
Burnley will be looking to improve on Wednesday’s trip to London, which ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Ham.
The Clarets were timid in the first 45 minutes but dominated the second period without reward and manager Sean Dyche is keen for a repeat of the latter rather than the former.
“You can’t afford just one good half at Tottenham,” he said. “Mauricio Pochettino has done a brilliant job there along with his players, and they’re a force to be reckoned with this season without a shadow of a doubt.
“We’ve got to be realistic about the challenge. There’s been good signs, we created chances. It’s tough home or away in this league, certainly for clubs like ourselves.
“We had three golden chances at West Ham and an unfortunate decision goes against us.
“But we’ve got to take care of business ourselves. A few away games this season the opposition have been better than us, and we have to take responsibility.”
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