Townsend won’t blame Europa League for Tottenham’s cup final defeat against Chelsea
Andros Townsend says Tottenham must get used to playing twice a week if they want to realise their ambitions of becoming a force to be reckoned with in England and Europe.
However, he admits the Lilywhites’ ability to focus on the Premier League for the rest of the season will aid their efforts to finish in the top four.
Spurs were in fine form when they beat Arsenal in the north London derby on February 7, but they have failed to win any of their five games since then.
After a defeat at Liverpool, the return of the Europa League appeared to stretch the Lilywhites’ resources past their limits. They were lucky to secure a 2-2 draw at home against West Ham last weekend and then crashed out of the Europa League in Florence on Thursday before losing the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday.
Townsend does not want to use the busy schedule as an excuse. But Spurs’ home game against Swansea on Wednesday night is their last scheduled midweek fixture, and the winger concedes that can only help their bid to qualify for the Champions League.
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“We’re not complaining,” he said. “If you want to be one of the best teams in the world you have to play midweek-Sunday, midweek-Saturday - but now it gives us a focus, a chance to train a bit more and come into games fresher.
“We’re out of two competitions but that just makes us more hungry to fight for fourth place in the Premier League. It’s all to play for and there are no excuses about the schedule now. It’s just straight weekend games until the end of the season and hopefully we’ll be good enough to get fourth place.
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“People will speculate about the Europa League but we went into the game [against Chelsea] very fresh. Nobody felt tired from the game on Thursday, so no excuses.”
Townsend was saddened by the defeat in Sunday’s cup final but he feels there were plenty of positives to take from the trip to Wembley.
“We’re extremely disappointed, it was a game we fully expected to win,” he said. “We were playing one of the best teams in Europe but we’re a young team and our confidence was booming after beating them on New Year’s Day.
“We came into the game with confidence but it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll go again. This young team will have many occasions to play in finals, hopefully this is just the start.
“It came down to a bit of fortune at the end of the day. Just before half-time, they get a deflected goal and it changes the game. Maybe if we get that luck with Christian Eriksen’s free-kick [which hit the crossbar] it’s a completely different tie and maybe we’re lifting the cup at the end of it. I can’t fault us in that sense, it was just one of those days.
“We played well in the first half - neither team created clear chances but territorially we were ahead. The only thing is just before half time, that [goal] changes the game.
“When Chelsea go 1-0 up they’re extremely good, one of the best teams in the world at seeing out games. They did that in the second half - but we’ll learn from that. We’ll come again. This is our first experience of a final so it will stand us in good stead if we get to Wembley again.”
It was a typically ruthless display from Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, and Townsend added: “That comes with experience. In our starting 11, we had six home grown players - seven if you include Eric Dier.
“We’re a relatively young and inexperienced team and to go toe to toe with one of the best teams in European football, having beaten them a couple of months ago, is great for us.
“The fact we’re so disappointed just shows how ambitious we are and how good we are as a team. We’ll only get better. We’re on the beginning of our journey and hopefully we can lift a trophy in a few years’ time.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs