Liverpool 1 Tottenham 1: Mauricio Pochettino looking to longer-term challenge with Spurs

North Londoners lost ground in title chase after draw

Tim Rich
Sunday 03 April 2016 23:01
James Milner competes with Harry Kane for the ball
James Milner competes with Harry Kane for the ball

For the two clubs contesting the most extraordinary title race of modern times, there is one essential difference. If Leicester do not win the Premier League, they are unlikely ever to have another chance. If Tottenham fail, they are likely to be stronger and more formidable come the new season.

In the wake of a compelling 1-1 draw at Liverpool that gave Leicester the opportunity to go seven points clear with half-a-dozen matches remaining, Mauricio Pochettino was in reflective mood.

His team had given the Tottenham manager no cause for regret; there was little more they could have done to force victory at Anfield. And they would be back.

“We have the youngest squad in the Premier League and yet here we are fighting for the title,” said Pochettino. “We are ahead of where we should be in our programme and we are only going to get better.

“For a lot of players this is our first season in the Premier League and I am sure they will be better next season because they have more experience. You always need time to develop your quality.”

The last time a Spurs side, managed by Harry Redknapp and inspired by Gareth Bale, challenged for major honours, it was allowed to break up surprisingly quickly. There are no survivors from the team that took on Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals five years ago and only three from the side that played in Gareth Bale’s final match – a 1-0 win over Sunderland in May 2013.

Harry Kane celebrates after equalising for Tottenham against Liverpool

Pochettino is aware of the dangers of cashing in on success. “Our idea is to keep the main group of players for the next few years and try to build,” he said. “Then we can add players to help us.”

For his counterpart, Jurgen Klopp, this was an anniversary of sorts. His first match as Liverpool manager, in October, was a goalless draw at White Hart Lane.

There has been progress at Anfield since then, measured in a League Cup final and Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund. However, in the Premier League, Liverpool are much where Klopp found them.

“The question for me is how we are seven places and 17 points behind Tottenham,” he said. “We had more chances, we pressed better, made better use of space. But they have more points than us - and that is a fact. We play good football but we don’t get the results we deserve and that is a problem.”

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