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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has questioned the fight in his players after they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Spurs’ form has plummeted domestically, as the team have lost their last three games on the road. They’ve slipped a long way back in the title race as a result, as they trail league leaders Manchester City by 13 points having played a game more.
When reflecting on the team’s latest setback, Pochettino didn’t mince his words, questioning the application of his players, per Stuart James of the Guardian.
“We need to learn from this game, that we need to start every game with the first idea being fighting and competing,” he said. “If you don’t compete and fight in the Premier League, the gap, or the quality, is even and you are sure that you are going to struggle. And of course the performance today was a very clear example [of that].”
The steeliness that made Tottenham such a force last season appears to have softened:
B/R Football @brfootball
Tottenham are slipping in the Premier League ⚠️ https://t.co/rIPrkJpjfS
After a bright start to the season during which Tottenham looked likely to be the closest challengers to City, the wheels have come off Pochettino’s side in the Premier League as of late.
A 1-0 loss to Manchester United contained some similar flaws, with Tottenham struggling away from home against fellow top-six sides. That was followed up by a morale-sapping loss to bitter rivals Arsenal, a disappointing draw at Wembley against West Bromwich Albion and then Tuesday’s surrender.
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At the King Power Stadium the visitors were slow out of the blocks, allowing Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to fire Leicester into a 2-0 lead. While they were both fine goals, they’re the types of strikes Spurs have not conceded too often under Pochettino.
As noted by James Dickens of Yahoo Sports, with Toby Alderweireld sidelined Tottenham don’t look as secure at the back:
James Dickens @JamesYahooSport
In case you were wondering, this is how important Toby Alderweireld is.
While recent form has been disappointing, it’s unlikely too many Spurs fans will be getting hysterical about their recent troubles.
After all, since Pochettino took over at the club they have been on an almost constant upward trajectory. Even amid this poor run of results, there have been some wonderful displays in the UEFA Champions League, as Tottenham have beaten both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to top their group.
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Things will need to change if the Londoners are going to pull themselves out of this rut, and Harry Sherlock of Goal suggested the manager has a role to play:
Harry Sherlock @Harry_Sherlock
Think this is counterproductive tbh. ‘It’s not about team selection.’ It sort of is when you keep trying to make Moussa Sissoko work as a central midfielder. Also, what more does Son have to do to start? Poche is culpable here. #THFC https://t.co/j0asztsDca
There’s still a long way to go in the campaign, though, and Spurs have shown over the last two terms that they’re strong in the second half of the season.
Pochettino evidently wasn’t pleased with this side of his team’s display at Leicester and will want to see a reaction when they face a tricky trip to Watford on Saturday.