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Pochettino plays down Wembley curse after Burnley draw


Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino takes his seat for the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 27, 2017. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Mauricio Pochettino denied his Tottenham side are suffering from a Wembley curse after dropping two points at home to Burnley yesterday, writes

Spurs lost their first game of the season at their temporary home 2-1 to Premier League champions Chelsea last weekend after Marcos Alonso struck a late winner. But they looked on track to record a narrow victory over Sean Dyche’s side thanks to Dele Alli’s goal, before Burnley substitute, Chris Wood came up with a stoppage-time leveller on his league debut for the club.

Tottenham have won only one of their last 11 matches at Wembley, but Pochettino insisted a lack of focus at the back had cost his team. “It has nothing to do with it,” Pochettino said when asked about Spurs’ lack of form at the national stadium.

“I think Wembley helps a lot to break the defensive lines and helped us score a goal. “If people are thinking about that they need to stop. We have a responsibility to do better. I can tell you Wembley wasn’t the problem.

“We need to make Wembley feel like our home. But if you remember our first season we found it difficult at White Hart Lane. Then it became a comfortable place for us. Wembley today wasn’t the problem for us.

“I think we need to find our balance. The team is showing in some periods of the game we are lacking concentration and in football you pay if you are not focused.”
Harry Kane’s barren August run stretched to 13 Premier League matches and Pochettino accepted Spurs should have killed off the game, only to find Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton in fine form.

“It was difficult because they were tough. It was a tough game,” Pochettino said. “But when you have the chances to kill the game, you must. Okay, you must not concede a goal like that.

“We need to be strong. That is a mental problem we need to fix. If you look at Chelsea last season, after three or four games, you would never say Chelsea would be the champions. I think it’s clear we need to improve and increase our mental level.

“[Kane] is a player who works hard. His commitment is there. I feel sorry for him. A striker always needs to be a little bit lucky. I am sure he will start to score.”

Although they lost 1-0 at home to West Brom last time out, Burnley have taken four points from away games at Chelsea and Tottenham, last season’s top two in the Premier League, and Dyche felt his side earned their draw at Wembley thanks to the impact of Wood after his club-record move from Leeds United earlier this week.

“They had control of the first half and it’s tough coming down here,” Dyche said. “I felt we deserved something, though.

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