Belfast Telegraph

Vertonghen: We must cut out errors

Jan Vertonghen knows Tottenham need to vastly improve for the visit of Stoke if they are to avoid another post-Europa League slip-up.

Mauricio Pochettino's side, like so many Spurs outfits before them, have struggled to balance domestic and continental exertions.

Already this season Liverpool, West Brom and Newcastle have won at White Hart Lane in games following European ties - the joint-highest number of home defeats in the Barclays Premier League.

Those struggles will buoy the Potters ahead of Sunday's trip to north London, as will the hosts' unconvincing performances of late.

Pochettino's men were fortunate to scrape through 2-1 winners at Asteras Tripolis on Thursday - producing an inept second-half display which Vertonghen knows would cost them dear if repeated on Sunday.

"It was strange because we didn't win second balls," the Belgium defender said.

"That team can play and the most important thing was they felt they could do something against an English team.

"I have been in that position with Ajax playing bigger teams and if you can get some hope you start playing differently and that's what we gave them ourselves.

"It is a long way [off building a winning mentality like Ajax]. It is not [a case of] pick the line-up and you win every game since then. You can have ups and downs.

"Of course, we won, but it was not that positive, so we have to analyse this game and see where it went wrong. Then we have to continue and avoid making those mistakes in the next game.

"That's what we have to do against Stoke, because if we make these mistakes against Stoke probably we will lose this game."

Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor are to be assessed before Tottenham's return to league action after t he pair were rested for midweek due to slight hamstring complaints.

Kyle Walker continues to miss out following abdominal surgery, while Nabil Bentaleb is absent due to an ankle complaint.

Meanwhile, Stoke have Peter Crouch, Phil Bardsley and Marc Muniesa back available, while Marko Arnautovic remains in line to feature despite breaking his hand.

Ex-Spurs man Crouch and Bardsley sat out the 2-2 home draw with West Ham last Saturday due to suspensions, while Muniesa was nursing an ankle problem.

Although Arnautovic is not expected to be kept out by the injury he suffered in training earlier this week, the same cannot be said of Dionatan Teixeira, who broke his foot on the same day and has joined Robert Huth (calf), Glenn Whelan (broken leg) and and Peter Odemwingie (knee) on the sidelines.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes feels his side are heading into the game in improving form despite their relatively barren run of results over the past few weeks.

The Potters have not won any of their last three matches in all competitions and only one of their last five, a sequence that has featured three defeats.

Their chances of claiming three points at White Hart Lane do not appear promising, given Spurs' previous five fixtures have yielded four victories.

But Hughes believes there have been encouraging signs of late from his men and is looking to the contest in optimistic mood.

"It is not an easy fixture - you look at any game against Spurs on the road and, given the quality they have, it is not easy," Hughes said.

"But I sense we are running into a little bit of form. We were disappointed twice against Southampton (in back-to-back defeats in league and cup), but showed a lot better form in the second half of the cup fixture, and then took that into the West Ham game (a 2-2 league draw last Saturday).

"We were by far and away the better side on that occasion and didn't get the maximum points that our performance deserved.

"I sense the form is returning and that is encouraging for us."

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