Tottenham: Doubts over team mentality will remain until they win trophy, says Lee Dixon

Mauricio Pochettino
Pochettino has never won a trophy as a manager

Doubts over Tottenham's mentality will "never go away" until they win a trophy, according to former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon.

On Saturday, Spurs face north London rivals Arsenal having slipped nine points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after successive defeats.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has previously said winning trophies "only builds your ego".

Dixon feels Spurs once again may not "fulfil their potential" this season.

Pochettino's men were beaten by Burnley last weekend and lost 2-0 at Chelsea in midweek. Another defeat against Arsenal and a victory for Manchester United against Southampton on Saturday would leave them just two points clear of fifth place.

Dixon told BBC Sport: "You can put the current bad run down to tiredness - the World Cup effect - or that they lack the knowhow [to get] over the winning line, which has been a problem for them. Or have they just been unlucky? They caught Burnley on a good day and Chelsea won 2-0 with one shot on target."

Tottenham's last trophy was the 2008 League Cup, while Pochettino is still awaiting his first silverware after 10 years in management.

Domestic trophies will again elude Spurs this season, but they are in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having taken a 3-0 lead over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their last 16 tie.

Dixon, who won four league titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal, added: "As a top team you are always tested and the really top teams keep answering the questions - that means winning a trophy.

"There are certain question marks over the mentality of Tottenham that will never go away until they tick the winning box, that is how it should be.

"They need to learn from the past but by the end of the season they may not fulfil their potential again. That only goes away when you win something.

"Until the arms go aloft with a trophy over your head, they will be answering those questions."

Emery has brought 'accountability' to Arsenal

Arsenal finished sixth last term but a win on Saturday would take them within a point of Tottenham, while Unai Emery has guided them into the last 16 of the Europa League in his first season.

"It would be huge for Arsenal to finish above Tottenham," said Dixon. "Unai is at one of the biggest clubs in the world and is under pressure from day one.

"To fill Arsene Wenger's boots was a huge ask but Unai has done really well. I like the way he has changed training and the accountability that the players have and to perform at the highest level. That dropped away under Arsene but you can see that in the performances this season.

"If he was to push into the top four and stay there and put the pressure on Tottenham to finish third, that would be the icing on the cake, they cannot ask for more."

'Emery has dealt well with Ozil'

Mesut Ozil
Ozil has scored five goals for Arsenal this season

Midfielder Mesut Ozil played a starring role in Wednesday's 5-1 hammering of Bournemouth in his just his third start of 2019.

Since the start of November, Ozil has played just two games - a total of 65 minutes - away from home.

Asked if Ozil will start against Tottenham, Dixon replied: "I would probably say no. The thing with Ozil is that he has been looked at by the manager and been openly told, 'What you are doing is not good enough'. He does not trust him.

"Now he has been out of the side for a while and then had a great game against Bournemouth, but he should be doing that anyway. He is a world-class player on the ball, a World Cup winner and he should be playing every week.

"His performances do not warrant that and the manager has dealt with it really well. There comes a point where there has to be progress and the progression now is for him to play in the bigger games. Ozil can win you a game but he can also lose you a game.

"If he plays, I am sure a lot of the Arsenal fans will be very pleased but he has to perform. You can carry star quality players as long as the balance is right in the team. This team is not set to do that."