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Pochettino looks for up turn in Premier League form

London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino will hope Tottenham Hotspur’s success in topping their Champions League group will fire up a faltering Premier League campaign.

The 3-0 victory over Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday ensured Pochettino’s side ended the group stage three points clear of Real Madrid.

By contrast, their efforts to improve on their domestic title challenges of the last two seasons have stalled badly and Spurs welcome Stoke City to Wembley on Saturday searching for their first win in five Premier League games.

Last weekend’s draw at Watford came on the back of defeat at Leicester City while Pochettino’s side continue to struggle to make Wembley feel like home.

They head into the weekend round of fixtures in sixth place, 18 points adrift of leaders Manchester City with their main focus now trained on closing the four point gap to fourth place.

Dele Alli’s struggle to find his form of last season has been just one of the factors in Spurs inconsistent campaign.

The England midfielder hopes the momentum built up during the European campaign can carry over into their league form.

“We’re a very confident side and are disappointed when we don’t win games,” said Alli.

“It’s important that as a team we stay together and keep building.”

– ‘He made a mistake’ –

Fernando Llorente made the most of a rare starting opportunity against Apoel to score his first goal for the club since his £12 million ($16.1million) move from Swansea City in August.

Although the 32-year-old veteran knows he will make way for Harry Kane at the weekend and return to the bench, he hopes his career can now kick on in North London.

“I needed it (the goal) for my confidence,” he told the club’s website.

“I work very hard to give the best performance I can.

“It’s been hard because in the last games in the Premier League I’ve had good chances. I’ve been a little unlucky.

“It’s been a difficult moment for me because I need to score for my confidence.”

Stoke head for Wembley without defender Bruno Martins Indi and forward Jese for vastly differing reasons.

Martins Indi has been ruled out for up to two months with a groin injury and Jese has returned to Spain to be with his son, who has been having medical treatment for complications following his birth earlier this year.

The on-loan Paris Saint Germain striker was disciplined this week after leaving the substitutes’ bench and heading down the tunnel before the end of last weekend’s 2-1 win against Swansea after manager Mark Hughes had made three substitutions.

“He made a mistake, he’s been disciplined for that,” said Hughes.

“He understands it wasn’t the right decision at that time. It’s been addressed.

“He isn’t available this weekend because he’s had to go back, which is a worry for him and everybody concerned.”

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