Spurs ready for defining period, says Lloris

AFP , Sunday 22 Feb 2015

Tottenham's Roberto Soldado celebrates scoring their first goal with Nacer Chadli and team mates in White Hart Lane, London, England, Feb 19, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Hugo Lloris says the visit of West Ham United to White Hart Lane on Sunday marks a crucial stage in Tottenham Hotspur's bid to claim a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino's side head into the latest round of matches in sixth spot, three points behind fourth-placed Southampton, after undoing their good work in beating Arsenal by slumping to a narrow defeat at Liverpool.

With so many sides still in the mix for the top four, consistency will be key to Spurs' hopes of clinching a place in next season's Champions League.

And while Lloris insists Pochettino's team are in good form, the French goalkeeper knows they must claim three points against West Ham if they are to revive their challenge after the disappointment of losing to Mario Balotelli's late winner at Anfield.

"We were a bit frustrated after the Liverpool match because I think we deserved a minimum of one point, but that's football and we lost it. But we want to bounce back and get three points against West Ham," Lloris said.

Lloris believes Spurs improved form is down to Pochettino's growing influence following the manager's arrival from Southampton during the close season.

"We are in good form and in a good way and we are now at the most important period of the season and every point will be decisive for the league," Lloris said.

"It's never easy when you start the first season at a new club but I think that the manager is doing really well and trying to get the best performance."

Gruelling run

Thursday's 1-1 home draw with Fiorentina in the Europa League last 32 first leg means Pochettino's side have a testing trip to Italy for the return next Thursday, three days ahead of the League Cup final against Chelsea.

Those fixtures are part of a gruelling run that will help define the club's season and Pochettino said: "It's a critical period as we have a lot of finals.

"Sunday (against West Ham) is a final, Thursday is a final, next Sunday is the Cup final."

Pochettino is expected to restore striker Harry Kane to the starting line-up after resting the in-form youngster against Fiorentina, allowing Roberto Soldado to make a goal-scoring start.

Emmanuel Adebayor is once again unlikely to make the match-day squad but Pochettino insists there is no rift between himself and the forward.

"My relationship with Ade? It's a good relationship, the only problem is I need to pick 18 players for every game," he said.

"Now I am picking Kane or Soldado but the relationship is good."

West Ham's success in beating their London rivals at White Hart Lane helped ease the pressure on Sam Allardyce last season, but the Hammers manager once again finds himself battling to save his job.

The east Londoners have been one of the surprise successes of the season, yet last weekend's 4-0 FA Cup defeat at West Bromwich Albion ensured criticism of Allardyce's methods were allowed to resurface.

Allardyce is out of contract at the end of the season, but he insists he is unmoved by speculation surrounding his future.

"It is not my desire to listen to praise or criticism. I like to be professional and work with the people within the football club to try and get the best out of them," he said.

"I hear things but I don't take any notice of it. There was speculation last season same as this season, I think there always will be. It seems to me it occurs if and when you get a bad result."

New signing Nene will not feature after Allardyce confirmed the former Paris Saint-Germain forward is not match fit.

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