Football

Hugo Lloris believes Spurs can mix it with the big boys

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is hopeful that improved character among the Tottenham squad can help them cause an upset against league leaders Chelsea on the New Year's Day programme.

The France captain shone in Tottenham's goalless stalemate at home to Manchester United on Sunday, but was culpable for at least one of the goals in a 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier in the month.

Lloris' poor goal-kick let in Didier Drogba to score the crucial second for the Blues, who visit White Hart Lane on Friday morning (Singapore time) sitting three points clear at the top of the English Premier League table.

Spurs have not beaten Chelsea in their last 10 meetings in all competitions and were humbled 4-0 across London back in March.

But Lloris has backed Mauricio Pochettino's side to spring a surprise against their rivals and prove they are capable of mixing it with the big boys.

"We didn't play great football (against Man United), but we showed a lot of character," he said.

"We were fighting a lot and until the end we were believing that we could get the three points.

"I remember we had some bad games last season and we had the feeling that we gave up a bit.

But, in football, things can turn really quickly, so we need to believe in ourselves and move forward and try to get as many points as possible.

"I think we are improving. Defensively, we are stronger than at the beginning of the season. We know what the manager is expecting, what he wants, but we need time.

CHARACTER

"At the moment, we are just looking at ourselves producing better performances. We try to improve as a team and we will see at the end of the season where we will be, and if we have achieved our target."

Lloris spoke out last season about the lack of character in the Tottenham ranks and when asked if the improvements in that area under Pochettino could help produce a win over Chelsea, the former Lyon goalkeeper said: "We will see.

"There are a lot of tough games before the end of the season and it will be easier to make a conclusion about the season at the end. We are still in the middle, so it's difficult to speak about it."

The defeat at Chelsea is the only reverse Spurs have suffered in their last eight league games and Lloris felt the visitors were better value than the scoreline suggested on Dec 3 - and insists he is not dwelling on his own display in the game.

"That is football," Lloris said when asked about his error.

"We try always to do the best for the team and sometimes, in some games, you don't do what you were expecting before the game.

"But we know it's football and the season is very long and we try to get the balance really positive for the team.

"I think the Chelsea performance was not so bad. We started the game well and then we made a couple of mistakes and they punished us. But we know it's high-level football against Chelsea.

"They can let you have the ball and give you confidence with the ball but, if you make one mistake, they have the players to punish you. So we are aware of that and we will try to get a great result in front of our fans.

"We know this period is difficult, but it's the same for everyone, so we'll just keep working, keep going match after match."

- PA Sport.

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