Alli tells Tottenham to focus on title after Euro exit

Saturday March 19 2016

Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Dele Alli dribbles the ball during their Uefa Europa League round of 16, second leg match against Borussia Dortmund at White Hart Lane in London on March 17, 2016. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |

Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Dele Alli dribbles the ball during their Uefa Europa League round of 16, second leg match against Borussia Dortmund at White Hart Lane in London on March 17, 2016. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |  AFP

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LONDO

Dele Alli has told his Tottenham Hotspur team-mates to forget their chastening Europa League exit and focus on making a final push to win the Premier League title.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were given a reality check by Borussia Dortmund as the German club cruised to a 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane on Thursday to complete a 5-1 aggregate success.

Pochettino admitted the one-sided last-16 tie showed his team remain way short of the standards set by Europe's elite clubs.

But Tottenham's teenage midfielder Alli insists the humbling defeat will be completely forgotten if the season ends with the north Londoners lifting the English title for the first time since 1961.

Tottenham return to domestic action against Bournemouth on Sunday knowing a victory is essential if they want to keep the pressure on leaders Leicester City, who are five points clear and can temporarily extend their advantage to eight points if they win at Crystal Palace 24 hours before Pochettino's men take the field at White Hart Lane.

"We know we are a great team. We can't let this dishearten us," Alli said.

"We've got to keep the form we've had in the Premier League and carry on until the end of the season. If we win the league this will be forgotten.

"It's a bit of a blow for the confidence but it's important that we keep our heads up and in the next game get the three points and get back on track."

After decades of underachievement, Tottenham find themselves in the thick of the title race for the first time in decades and the pressure appeared to get to them recently when they lost to West Ham United and threw away the lead in a draw against 10-man Arsenal.

ANXIETY

A 2-0 win at Aston Villa last weekend eased the growing anxiety a little and Alli, the 19-year-old whose dynamic displays have played such a significant role in Tottenham's progress this term, is doing his best not to think about the magnitude of the prize his team are chasing.

"We are second in the league, five points behind Leicester. It's important we don't think about that too much and don't get carried away too much with ourselves," Alli said.

"It's just about taking each game as it comes and hopefully being up there at the end of the season."

Pochettino will welcome back Harry Kane, Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen after resting the key trio against Dortmund.

The Argentine coach must also assess the fitness of Eric Dier after the England midfielder was injured against Dortmund, while defender Ben Davies is unlikely to feature due to a head injury.

Last weekend's victory over Swansea City effectively guaranteed Bournemouth's first season in the top flight will end with the immense satisfaction of avoiding relegation.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe has been keen to keep his players motivated by insisting their survival is not guaranteed but, with a 13-point gap between them and the bottom three, it is unthinkable that they will go down now.

That means Bournemouth, who have won their last three matches, will make their first ever trip to White Hart Lane in relaxed mood as they look to avenge a 5-1 thrashing against Pochettino's men in October.

Denting Tottenham's title bid would be the perfect way to sign off before Howe takes his players for a warm-weather training camp during next week's international break.

"Tottenham is the only thing that matters, but afterwards we are going to take the lads away for a few days away to Dubai," he said.

"We are looking forward to it, we did it last year and it was a really good break.

"It was a chance to regroup, have some really good intense training session with the lads in a lovely climate, so hopefully it will be the same again."