Tottenham failed to seize ‘key moment’ at West Ham, says Mauricio Pochettino

• ‘We were missing a little,’ says Spurs manager after 1-0 defeat
• Slaven Bilic revels in ‘deserved’ win – ‘you can’t beat the feeling’

Mauricio Pochettino lamented Tottenham Hotspur’s inability to seize the opportunity that they had to spook Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, saying his team’s 1-0 defeat by West Ham on Friday night suggested they lacked the instincts of champions.

A victory for Spurs would have cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to a single point but Manuel Lanzini’s winning goal for West Ham leaves Antonio Conte’s men four points clear and with a game in hand over their nearest pursuers. They will secure the title if they beat Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge on Monday and West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Friday.

“To win a league or a trophy is about key moments,” said Pochettino. “The match against West Ham] was a key moment ... if you want to be champions you must win. How, I don’t know. We were missing a little bit but we move on and try to finish the season in the best way, still fighting.”

Tottenham’s midfielder Eric Dier admitted his team’s title aspirations are now highly unrealistic. “It’s very disappointing,” said the 23-year-old. “We knew it was going to be tough a long time ago and we managed to bring it back to four points. After [this defeat] it’s nearly impossible. But we will give everything for these last three games of the season, no matter what.”

Pochettino admitted his team failedto reach the level that they had attained while winning their previous nine matches in the league, describing his team’s performance as “just OK”. He said, however, that he remains proud of the challenge that his team have put up this season.

“It wasn’t our best performance, we tried,” he said. “I don’t change my vision of my team. I’m very proud. It’s difficult to keep your level. When we conceded, [West Ham] played deeper, [it was] difficult to create chances. We miss a little bit of fluidity to play in possession and move the ball quick and try to find the space and break them down. In the end I am calm, disappointed like our players, but we move on.”

Pochetino said his decision to omit Mousa Dembélé from the starting line-up did not contribute to his team’s defeat. Dier and Victor Wanyama began in central midfield in front of a back four, with Dembélé not arriving until the second half, just as he had done in the victory over Arsenal last weekend.

“Our strength is our collective, our squad,” said Pochettino. “With Mousa we have lost and won. Football is not about one name, one player. It’s to be strong like a unit. Mousa can bring things to the team like another player but I don’t think this was about playing one player and not another.”

West Ham’s manager, Slaven Bilic, said his team produced one of their best performances of their season to secure the win that banishes all relegation fears and all but relieves the pressure on him.

“We deserved to win, we did everything,” he said. “The way we did it was magnificent. Great determination, thinking about what each individual had to do. But to beat a team like Spurs you need more and we showed quality, especially in the second half. Friday night, underthe lights, against them, it was a big game for us and them. You can’t beat the feeling.”


Paul Doyle at the London Stadium

The GuardianTramp

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