Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is not ready to concede the Premier League title to Leicester City despite seeing his side drop precious points in a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
Monday’s result at White Hart Lane left second-placed Spurs seven points behind longtime leaders Leicester with three matches remaining.
Leicester can now clinch the title with a victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday –- the day before Tottenham travel across London to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“Is it over? No, it’s not, because the gap is seven points and there are three left to play,” said Pochettino. “It’s true that it’s very difficult, more so than before this game. Yes, this is very frustrating.
“But we need to still believe and keep fighting and be ready for the next game and hope Leicester drop points,” the Argentinian, looking to see Spurs crowned champions of England for the first time since 1961, added.
“In the first half, we played very well. In the second, we lost a little bit of the control of the game and allowed them to believe and to create chances. When you do not kill the game, you always allow them to believe,” explained Pochettino after Albion defender Craig Dawson made amends for his 33rd-minute own-goal by heading home an equaliser 17 minutes from time.
“We need to be calm and assess the season. So far it has been fantastic. We still need to fight and improve.
“But no complaints. We are very proud since the start of the season on how we have played and worked.”
– Alli incident -Pochettino said he had not seen the video circulating on Twitter during the game which showed Spurs’ Dele Alli appearing to punch Albion midfielder Claudio Yacob late in the first half.
This is not the first time the 20-year-old has showed a mean streak, most notably in a Europa League tie with Fiorentina when he escaped with a booking for kicking Serbian defender Nenad Tomovic.
“The behaviour of Dele after Fiorentina has been fantastic,” said Pochettino. “You know sometimes the opponent tries to find him and to provoke him as they know he has a strong character and might react.
“But I did not see it. I don’t know what happened.”
When Albion manager Tony Pulis was asked about that incident, he laughed. “Yacob hasn’t complained,” he said, “but then he is a tough lad.”
Pulis commended his players for the fight shown in the second half, especially after the disappointment of losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates last Thursday.
The Welshman also acknowledged his side’s improved performances away to the so-called “bigger” teams in the Premier League.
“I am very pleased in the way that we have played away from home against the bigger clubs this year.
“We did smashing at (Manchester) City, got beat late on at Man Utd, and did well at Chelsea. All the big clubs, we played well –- Arsenal is the only ground at which we have been disappointing at. So, it was important they had a go tonight.”
Pulis added: “Tottenham are a fantastic team. The future here is bright here over next the couple of years.
“One thing that has not been said about this title race between the two clubs is the fact that Tottenham have played a lot of games on a Thursday night. I have experienced that and playing Thursdays and Sundays is difficult.
“So, for Tottenham, even though they are disappointed now, to be where they are at the moment is a fantastic achievement.”