LONDON – Tottenham should seek inspiration from an unlikely run to the last-16 of the Champions League to pose a Premier League title challenge, believes Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Despite the midweek exertions of drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona to progress in Europe, Spurs closed to within five points of Premier League leaders Manchester City thanks to substitute Christian Eriksen’s stoppage-time winner to earn a 1-0 Wembley victory over a stubborn Burnley on Saturday.
The win kept Spurs in third place and just three points adrift of second-placed Liverpool, who can return to the top of the table with victory over Manchester United on Sunday.
Pochettino knows that many believe the title is a two-horse race between City and Liverpool.
But he argued otherwise, citing his side’s recovery from taking just one point from their first three Champions League group games as encouragement that anything can happen.
“We are in a very good position,” said Pochettino, who has also had to contend with persistent delays over a move to the club’s news stadium, no summer signings in the transfer market and a host of injuries to members of his squad who shone at the World Cup.
“The reality is that after 17 games, we are third. That is a massive achievement for us.
“All is possible. Look what happened in the Champions League after three games. We had only one point and we believed it was possible, and in the end, we are now in the next stage.
“There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration, but the most important thing is belief and faith in the way you work and, if you give 100 percent, all can happen.”
Eriksen had come off the bench to score the goal that beat Inter Milan in the Champions League last month, when only a win would keep Spurs’ European dreams alive.
And the Dane delivered again when Harry Kane teed him up in added time to fire past Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Victory was also Pochettino’s 100th in the Premier League as Tottenham manager, a statistic assistant manager Jesus Perez had kept from him beforehand.
“Jesus didn’t want to tell me before the game because it’s like a superstition,” he said. “I don’t read too much, I don’t know too much. He knows nearly everything and he didn’t tell me.
“I think it’s a fantastic achievement for us collectively. I think that is the most important thing.”
Burnley remain two points above the drop zone, but limited Tottenham to only occasional chances, with Hart making a high-quality save in each half to deny Erik Lamela.
And after ending an eight-game winless run against Brighton last weekend, their defensive display indicated there are positive signs of improvement for Sean Dyche to build on.
“We deserved something from the game,” said Dyche. “We limited them by their standards. They’re a top side, and they’ve had to work incredibly hard to get something.”AFP