Vertonghen doesn’t want to change Spurs’ attacking approach despite defeat at Liverpool
PUBLISHED: 12:01 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:01 11 February 2015
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Jan Vertonghen admits Tottenham were punished for their attempts to grab another late win at Anfield on Tuesday, but he does not want to change that attacking mindset.
Spurs have secured seven victories this season with goals scored on or after the 80th minute, plus Christian Eriksen’s second strike in the 2-2 draw at Sheffield United, which secured a place in the Capital One Cup final.
The flip side is that Spurs have also suffered late defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester so far in 2015, and there have been dramatic finishes to their last two games, with elation on Saturday and heartbreak on Tuesday.
Harry Kane’s 86th-minute header earned a 2-1 home win over Arsenal at the weekend. But, in midweek, Spurs missed out on a valuable point at top-four rivals Liverpool as an 83rd-minute goal from Mario Balotelli condemned them to a 3-2 defeat.
Mauricio Pochettino’s visitors twice fought back from behind, with the prolific Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele cancelling out goals from Lazar Markovic and Steven Gerrard – but Balotelli’s winner means the Merseyside outfit are now just one point behind Spurs in the battle for Champions League qualification.
Nevertheless, Vertonghen believes Spurs are right to keep attacking until the end and seeking all three points.
“I don’t think we need to drop [deep] but sometimes when the game goes towards the end you have to know what you can get and be happy, maybe, with a draw,” said Vertonghen. “But I think the intention was to attack and I don’t want to change that. I don’t think anyone at Tottenham wants that.
“When it gets to the 80th minute, you might want to take a 2-2 draw. But I don’t think Liverpool were really trying to go for it and get the 3-2 win - it came out of the blue.
“We have the belief that we can score in the last 10 minutes of every game but unfortunately this time it didn’t work out like that. I think our intentions were good - we were trying to play and that is what we need to do in the next game.
“I think we deserved more. We didn’t play our best game and I don’t think Liverpool did either. We gave them so many opportunities by giving the ball away, in the first half especially.
“We fought back twice and I still thought at 2-2 we could win the game but they scored to make it 3-2 and there was not enough time to fight back.
“They didn’t punish us every time [we made mistakes] so I don’t think the errors made the difference. But maybe if the passing was better – not only in our half but in their half - then we could have got more.”
Mauricio Pochettino named an unchanged side at Anfield on Tuesday after Saturday’s derby, but Vertonghen rejects the suggestion that fatigue was an issue.
“Liverpool played as well [on Saturday] and they are playing in Europe too,” he said. “We didn’t feel tired, or no more than Liverpool. Physically I think we were very good but we made too many mistakes to win the game.
“We have got five or six teams fighting for fourth place and there are probably two places to fight for - not only fourth but I think third as well.
“It is better that there is an extra place but if you want to compete for the top four, you have to win against your rivals. We did that against Arsenal but unfortunately not this time.
“I think it will go right to the wire. There are too many teams and three or four will keep fighting for the end.
“Can we get third place? It is realistic but we will be happy with fourth place as well. We will go for as high as possible and if third is available, we will go for third.”
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