LONDON. – Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham missed an opportunity to step up their English Premier League soccer title challenge, after failing to beat 10-man Arsenal in a pulsating 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Pochettino’s side remain in second place, five points behind leaders Leicester, but the Tottenham manager was left frustrated after Spurs squandered a 2-1 lead against their bitter north London rivals.
Alexis Sanchez’s 76th minute equaliser ensured Arsene Wenger’s side escaped with a point, despite having lost Francis Coquelin to a 55th minute red card when they were leading through Aaron Ramsey’s first half goal.
“I think with the way we played we deserved more. At 11 against 11 I think we deserved more and were unlucky in the way we conceded the first goal,” Pochettino said. “But there are a lot of games ahead; nine games and a lot of points. It is true we missed a big opportunity but in the same way I think Arsenal is a very good team with very good players.
“It is true the feeling is we missed a big opportunity but we need to be positive about that.”
Pochettino insists his young side will not pay for their lack of experience during the title run-in, after a week in which they lost at West Ham and then slipped up against the Gunners.
But he believes his team will benefit from their efforts this season, no matter what the outcome of the campaign. “It’s not about maturity. It’s not about character. These are always the things people say about us,” he said.
“I can give a lot of examples of big clubs with experienced players who concede goals in the last minute. “Sometimes the opponent can create good chances and it is unlucky but it is not about maturity because all the teams sometimes concede goals like this.
“We have come from a very busy period. All season we have been busy. It is true in the last few months we have played a lot of games. “It’s crazy sometimes, so for that we feel very proud. The effort from the squad is fantastic.”
Ramsey put Arsenal ahead, but Spurs recovered with two goals in two minutes from Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane after Coquelin had been dismissed, before Sanchez equalised.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits the twists and turns in this season’s title race means he is unable to judge whether his side remain in contention. “I don’t know because I don’t know what to say anymore about that,” Wenger said.
“Everybody drops points so let’s see what happens over the weekend. I think we have to take encouragement from our performance today and reproduce that until the end of the season and we might have a chance.
“Maybe yes, it is our best chance to win the title. Last year we had no chance. “Three or four years ago I think we were in the race. It shows the team has quality and spirit and our balance was right today.”
Wenger admitted Coquelin was rightly dismissed and criticised his player for collecting two yellow cards, but insisted Spurs’ Eric Dier should also have been sent off. “I hate to say a lot to Francis after that tackle. He knows. He knows he made a big mistake,” Wenger said.
“We knew at half-time, we warned him as well. It was a mistake. He wanted to do well and mistimed his tackle and got sent off.” – AFP.