(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur have not deteriorated compared to last season, manager Mauricio Pochettino said as he backed his team to come back stronger from their current poor run in the Premier League.
Spurs are sixth in the table, 18 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City after losing four of their 15 games this season, the same as the entire last campaign when they finished second, and are winless in their last four matches.
Despite their poor domestic form, Tottenham have improved on last season’s Champions League showing, progressing to the knockout stages as group winners and Pochettino believes City’s form rather than Spurs’ decline had opened the gap between them.
“We have maybe three points less than this time last season, and we’ve finished top of our Champions League group,” Pochettino told British media.
“Manchester City have created a gap, but I’m sure the team will improve and take many lessons from this run.”
Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Juan Foyth are the north London side’s only options for central defence when they host Stoke City next weekend after fellow centre-back Davinson Sanchez was sent off in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Watford.
Defender Toby Alderweireld also said that he had no fixed return date from a hamstring injury sustained in last month’s home Champions League win over Real Madrid as he awaits a scan in two weeks’ time to assess the damage.
“I have a serious muscle tear. There’s a big chance of recurrence,” Alderweireld told Belgian media.
“If the muscle tears off completely, for instance, I would need surgery and it’ll take 14 weeks to recover. That’s why we try to see how we can treat the muscle.
“In two weeks there’s a scan to see how it goes. I can only try to be on the pitch as fast as possible.”
Tottenham host APOEL Nicosia in their final Champions League group game on Wednesday before hosting 13th-placed Stoke on Saturday.
(This story corrects Dortmund to Real Madrid in paragraph seven)
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru