Mauricio Pochettino said Tottenham’s performance against Manchester City gave him confidence for the future despite a heavy defeat that ended his side’s long unbeaten Premier League run.
Spurs were beaten 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday before Manchester United lost to West Brom the following day, confirming City as Premier League champions for a third time.
It was Tottenham’s first taste of defeat in the league since losing to Pep Guardiola’s side in December’s reverse fixture, a run of 14 league games, but Pochettino, whose side are in fourth spot, saw the positives.
“After 14 games unbeaten, it was a massive, massive run for us,” he said. “We played Liverpool, United, Arsenal, Chelsea and 14 games unbeaten I think the players deserve full credit.
“We are disappointed but not frustrated or sad because when we increased our level and showed our real quality we showed we can compete against Manchester City — the best team in England.
“That is why I am not concerned about the future. Yes, it was 20 minutes where we were really poor but I am not worried because I think the team competed really well.”
Spurs lead fifth-placed Chelsea by seven points and can stretch that to 10 with victory at Brighton on Tuesday.
“Top four is our challenge and target,” said Pochettino. “It is to finish top four and provide the club next season with the Champions League in the new stadium, that is our target.”
Pochettino has hinted that Toby Alderweireld could be brought out of the cold for the visit to the south coast.
The Belgian defender has not been involved in any of the past three matchday squads. His future at the club looks increasingly bleak, having not played in the Premier League since October.
Captain Hugo Lloris will also keep his place despite goal-costing errors in the past three games, including giving a penalty away against City.
“For me Hugo Lloris is, from the day that we arrive here, improving every season,” said Pochettino. “For me today he is one of the best ‘keepers in the world and for me there’s no doubt.”
Danny Rose is still missing with a calf injury while Harry Winks remains in Qatar as he recovers from an ankle injury.