Mauricio Pochettino insists his Tottenham players should be considered “heroes” despite Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool extending their winless run in the Premier League to five matches.
Lucas Moura looked to have earned a point at Anfield after cancelling out Roberto Firmino’s opener, only for Toby Alderweireld to score a 90th-minute own goal after Hugo Lloris palmed a Mohamed Salah header off his team-mate and over the line.
The result lifts Liverpool two points clear at the top of the table, having played a game more than Manchester City, while Spurs stay third and above Manchester United on goal difference alone.
Arsenal will go above their neighbours if they beat Newcastle United on Monday, while Chelsea are just one point further back, leaving Spurs’ top-four hopes very much in the balance following a return of one point from the last 15 available.
Pochettino, though, thinks Spurs deserve huge credit for challenging for the top spots during a season in which they have signed no players and had to cope with extended delays to their new stadium, where they will finally play their first match against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
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“Overall, I think we were better than Liverpool,” he said. “I’m very disappointed. It’s difficult to explain but at the same time I am proud of the performance. I am proud about recovering that feeling that we lost against Southampton and Burnley.
“We were saying in the dressing room: we are in the top four, the semi-finals of the Champions League. We need to forget everything and focus on a ‘mini-league’. It starts Wednesday, in our new stadium. It’s in our hands to be in the top four.
“With seven games to play in the Premier League, fighting in that position with Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, being there in the middle… the players deserve massive credit.
“I was so disappointed after Southampton, but today I cannot say anything. The second half was the way we want to play. We deserved a little bit more but, playing in that way, for sure you are going to be rewarded.
“We were laughing a little bit – more than £100million on two midfielders, [Naby] Keita and Fabinho, on the bench, and you go and play better, and you dominate. I think our players deserve massive credit.
“I don’t want to criticise [Liverpool]. It’s only that the circumstances of Tottenham this season must be, when someone wants to give an opinion, you need to put the circumstances in and not only judge Tottenham because of the position of the table.
“After playing nearly two years at Wembley, moving from one stadium and then to another, my players are heroes and deserve a lot of credit. The circumstances are so tough, and we are dealing [with them] and we are fighting to be competitive.”
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