March 19, 2016

Tottenham Hotspur have all of their eggs in the Premier League basket.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham (16-10-4) host Bournemouth (10-8-12) at White Hart Lane on Sunday as they look to keep up their unlikely title challenge and close the gap on even more unlikely league leaders Leicester City.

And the title race is now the sole aim for Spurs, following their 5-1 aggregate defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League.

The Lilywhites were hammered 3-0 in the first leg in Dortmund using a mix of first and second-team players, but coped better in Thursday's second leg, a 2-1 defeat, and midfielder Dele Alli believes the tie was a useful experience for the youngest squad in the English top-flight.

"Dortmund was a great learning experience for us and all the players," Alli said. "We are a young team and is it is important that we don't let it get us down.

"We must keep fighting - and if we win the league, this will all be forgotten."

But Spurs cannot afford to slip up many times in their remaining eight games, and Sunday's visitors to White Hart Lane are no pushovers.

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth are all but assured of staying in the Premier League next season, having opened up a 13-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone, and the Cherries have won three games on the bounce.

It's a remarkable achievement by a squad whom few predicted to survive in their debut season, and rarely have they looked out of place - except when they were completely outclassed by Spurs earlier in the season.

"I don't think there's a point to prove," midfielder Matt Ritchie said, referring to October's 5-1 loss at the Vitality Stadium. "I think they (Tottenham) are the best team we've played, probably, so we know we're going to be in for a game there.

"The quality they had and the way they were off the ball was impressive. I think they are very aggressive and obviously they've got top, top players that we need to strive to be as good as. They're having a fantastic season and they're a team that we can emulate in ways, but we will go there with a lot of confidence from our three wins on the bounce. Hopefully we can get three points."

Bournemouth will have to search for those points without the services of Junior Stanislas, Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mings, who all remain out. Midfielder Harry Arter is a doubt with a calf problem.

Tottenham are without Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N'Jie, while Ben Davies and Eric Dier are both doubts.

Spurs had Alli, Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Kyle Walker all called up to the latest England squad on Thursday, but Pochettino is not concerned about letting his players leave to join up with the national side at such a pivotal moment in the season.

"We have contact with all the staff from the national teams. And always we need advice and information, but we'll never say: 'You need to do this or that,'" Pochettino said. "We have confidence and trust in the national teams and all their staff to care and look after our players."

Kane has scored eight goals in his last nine Premier League games and is just two short of his tally of 21 from last year's breakthrough season. He's joint-leader in the Premier League with Leicester's Jamie Vardy.

Midfielder Alli has either scored or assisted on 14 goals in his last 19 Premier League appearances for Spurs. The former MK Dons youngster has provided more assists (five) since the turn of the year than any other player in the English top flight.

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