Football

Pochettino realistic about title chances

Spurs boss at a loss to explain his team's lack of ruthlessness against weaker sides

Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham Hotspur's chances of making a realistic challenge for the Premier League title are fading as once again they struggled to break down a defensive-minded team at Wembley.

Before Saturday's 1-1 draw with managerless West Bromwich Albion, Pochettino's men had scored just once in their last three Premier League matches.

Pep Guardiola's table-topping Manchester City, who are having no such problems creating or scoring against all-comers, were 10 points ahead of Spurs as they went into this morning's match at Huddersfield Town.

"We moved the ball so slow in the first half-hour," complained Pochettino. "But maybe because we conceded the goal - it was a massive impact for us.

"In the last 15 minutes, we played better, moved the ball better and found better space. The second half was very good, the team played very well and we created many chances.

"It is disappointing to drop two points. But it is difficult for me to explain why we have not won the game today."

Despite boasting the attacking talents of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, Spurs have struggled to breach teams who are prepared to defend deep.

In the first half in particular, Tottenham lacked the guile to slice through the Baggies and were often reduced to shots from distance. As a result, visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster was rarely troubled.

Salomon Rondon fired the visitors ahead with just four minutes on the clock, and it took Kane to rescue Spurs with a 74th-minute equaliser.

"The effort against West Bromwich was massive, but in the last third, we need to be more clinical in front of goal," added Pochettino.

"I don't like to talk about the start. But the team created the chances to win and the possibility to score. Only Harry (Kane) rescued one point, but it is true our performance was enough to win but we didn't win."

Pochettino also conceded that, should City beat Huddersfield to go 13 points clear of them, the gap would be too big for them to overcome.

He said: "Yes, it is true. The gap is now 10 points and that is massive in the Premier League.We need to be focused and be more consistent at Wembley."

Although England's national stadium has been a fortress in the Champions League - Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid were both impressively beaten 3-1 - the story has been very different in domestic competition.

Spurs thumped Liverpool 4-1 there but Chelsea and West Ham United both claimed victories at Wembley, while Burnley, Swansea City and West Brom have held the North London side to home stalemates.

Their inability to beat the weaker sides was not lost on Kane, who seemed at a loss when asked to explain why.

He said: "It's not good enough. And it leaves us quite far behind in the league now.

"We should be able to play better and beat these sides (at Wembley). We have to just figure it out and keep working." - WIRE SERVICES

Football