Mark Hughes does not think Tottenham can afford another slip-up if they are to succeed in the Premier League title race but is hoping that will benefit Stoke City when the two teams meet on Monday.
Spurs are seven points adrift of leaders Leicester City with only five matches left to play – a gap that could have increased by the time the match at the Britannia Stadium kicks off, with the Foxes hosting West Ham on Sunday.
Hughes feels time is running out for Tottenham in their bid to finish top of the table and thinks Stoke could capitalise on the visitors’ desire to make the running.
“Tottenham will feel that they need to win every game,” he said at his pre-match media conference.
“They are running out of games now. Even if they win them all then their fate still isn’t in their own hands. In terms of the game then they will have to come here and be positive and I think that will help us.
“We have struggled at times against teams who come here and sit back, but in the games against teams who come and back their ability against us, we tend to do well.
“We have beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and United, so we are confident. If they aren’t consistent in all aspects of their game then they could leave gaps for us. We will be positive against them.
“That said they are a top team and they have exceptional talent. They are having a great season and will feel that this is a real opportunity for them.”
Stoke were thumped 4-1 at Liverpool last time out and dropped down to ninth in the table, making Europa League qualification a tall order.
But Hughes is eager to see his team produce a strong finish to the campaign and does not think it is impossible that they could replicate Leicester’s exploits in future seasons.
He added: “I am not sure whether saying this sort of season won’t happen again is correct – maybe it could happen again on many occasions.
“If teams bring good players into their clubs then you can do really well. We hope that at some point we have a story similar to what Leicester have had. Mind you, it would take some doing to beat their story.
“If you have ambition and desire then you can go far. We have that and Leicester have that too, which is why they are where they are.
“After the last two games we have made Europe a lot more difficult. Teams around us have games in hand and are picking up points so it will be a tough ask for us now. We have to make sure we are ready to take advantage of any slip-ups.”
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