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English Premier League

Spurs back in hunt for Champions League slot after downing Burnley

Mauricio Pochettino all smiles as Tottenham move up Premier League standings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 December, 2016, 10:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 December, 2016, 10:26am

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham are firmly back in the hunt for a Champions League place after battling back for a 2-1 win over Burnley.

Pochettino’s side moved within one point of fourth place, currently occupied by Arsenal, ahead of the pivotal Christmas schedule of games thanks to their spirited showing at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

After this season’s disappointing exit at the group stages of the Champions League, Pochettino wants another taste of Europe and he believes Spurs are still on course.

Tottenham are four points better off than at the same stage last year and Pochettino said: “We are fighting very close to the top four and that is important.

“In the Premier League it is very hard to win games. Every game is so tough to earn three points.

“But it’s another step in the right direction. I think our position is good, now we are winning games and we are a little bit closer to the second position.

“It is not tomorrow, it is not in a few weeks that we finish the league. It’s still a long way to the end of the season.

“We are in a position that we can attack the second half of the season and try to push a little bit more.”

Tottenham were far from their best and were forced to come from behind after Ashley Barnes had opened the scoring for Burnley in their first goal from open play on the road this season.

Dele Alli equalised but a combination of poor finishing, organised defending and Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton kept the hosts at bay until Danny Rose’s 71st minute winner.

“The manager always tells us to remain patient. You have to at times against teams that sit back,” Rose said. “The gaffer does not like myself and Kyle [Walker] both being high up the pitch at the same time but changed that tactic here.

“Kyle got his assist and I got the goal. The manager got his tactics spot on.”

Burnley will certainly be in a relegation scrap this season, but boss Sean Dyche believes his side are showing signs that they can cure their away-day woes, having picked up just one point so far.

“We are a work in progress, but we have taken strides forward in the last couple of games,” Dyche said.

“A lot has been made of our away form but we are getting there. But we do need the rub of the green.”

Dyche felt Moussa Sissoko should have been red carded for a high challenge on Stephen Ward and, to add insult to injury, the substitute created the winner for Rose.

“It was a blind challenge, a high challenge and simply a red,” Dyche said.

“Sissoko has to go off and he sets up the second goal which I’m disappointed about.

“My players’ reaction to a clear sending off is that he gets up. If he does 14 rolls then the referee is under pressure.

“But I don’t think our fans want to see our players rolling around on the floor.”