Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has told his team-mates to be realistic over title ambitions after losing further ground on Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Arsenal claimed the north London derby bragging rights with a stirring 2-0 win over Spurs at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, leaving their rivals 11 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men in fourth.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side return to action in the Champions League on Tuesday, having taken four points off Real Madrid to be in command of Group H, although France goalkeeper Lloris urged more measured targets domestically after defeat at
Arsenal followed the 1-0 reverse to Manchester United at Old Trafford last month.
“Before we think about City it’s important to stay in the top four. This is the main target for our team,” he told reporters.
“We heard from outside that Tottenham play for the title, blah, blah, blah. The most important thing is to stay consistent in the league.
“We have been in the top four the last two years and we need to carry on, to settle the club in this position and try to get more experience because the team is still young, then reduce the gap with the best.
“Obviously the future for Tottenham will be bright if we keep the same mentality. It’s our ambition, but step by step.
“It’s true that we wanted to do more against Manchester United and Arsenal. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that so now it’s important to have a run of victories because we need to keep our place at the top.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has dismissed the notion of a rift with Danny Rose after leaving the England left-back out of his matchday squad at the weekend.
A disappointed Mauricio reflects on defeat in the north London derby this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/bRTsCqMwja
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 18, 2017
Rose, who questioned Tottenham’s ambition in a controversial pre-season interview, returned to action last month following 10 months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
He started Spurs’ last game before the international break, being replaced in injury time of the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, before featuring in both England’s friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Nevertheless, Pochettino decided the 27-year-old was best served further building his fitness at Tottenham’s training ground instead of enduring the intensity of a London derby.
“We analysed the player and we said to the player that we believed it was better to play another player, and [Rose] needs to wait,” Pochettino said.
“One thing is you can play. Another thing is to be fully fit to play and to cope with 90 minutes. And for us, rather than [Rose] being on the bench today, it was the decision to make him train at the training ground.
“Like [Erik] Lamela was playing with the under-23s, to try to get fit. After 10 months it is so difficult to build up the fitness.
“It’s not [for] another reason. It’s only that he needs to build, and then wait for his opportunity.”
On the suggestion that relations between himself and reported Manchester United target Rose had broken down, Pochettino added: “You are trying to find an issue that is not an issue. When it’s an issue, I explain, it’s an issue. When it’s not an issue, it’s not an issue.”