WATFORD: Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham Hotspur side are coming of age despite their already-fading hopes of Premier League title glory suffering another setback with a 1-1 draw away to Watford.
Saturday's result was Spurs' fourth successive league game without a win they've now gone from vying for the title to facing a battle to qualify directly for next season's Champions League in recent weeks.
But Pochettino was just relieved to see his side stop the rot with a battling draw against Watford after playing most of the second half at Vicarage Road a man down following Davinson Sanchez's red card.
"You can't win games easy, especially in this league, but you learn a lot about the character," said Tottenham manager Pochettino.
"It was important for us to change the feelings. We were disappointed after our last game at Leicester (a 2-1 loss in midweek).
"We are in a period now where we are suffering things against us. It is good for the group to try and learn. It is a long-term project. It will be good for the future. You want to win, but in tough moments you learn.
"In the last few games we have deserved more. You can't question the performance or character.
"It's so difficult to play with one man less. The good thing is we didn't concede and we were also close to scoring. We handled the game well as we played for 50 minutes with 10 men. But we were brave and went forward and didn't concede chances."
The game was evenly poised, with Son-Heung Min cancelling out Christian Kabasele's early headed opener, when Colombian defender Sanchez saw red for an elbow on Watford winger Richarlison.
Spurs then held on to a point despite soaking up heavy pressure from the Hornets.
Pochettino said he was undecided on whether Spurs will launch an appeal regarding Sanchez's dismissal, with the player facing a three-match suspension as things stand.
"I'm not going to complain but the player said it wasn't his intention," the Argentinian boss explained. "We will have to analyse it in private."
Watford had conceded 13 goals in three home league games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. Yet despite an on-going defensive crisis, they restricted Spurs to just one goal after a tough run of fixtures.
The Hornets are currently in the top half of the table but manager Marco Silva insisted he was fully focused on preserving their top-flight status in the second half of the season.
"Everybody knows what our hope is -- to remain in the Premier League," he said. "I want everybody to keep their feet on the floor. We need to improve and keep working. My players continued to give me everything and I can't ask more from them."
Richarlison was a thorn in the Tottenham's side throughout and Silva is aware his £11 million ($15 million, 12 million euros) pre-season signing could attract interest during the January transfer window.
"He is a key player for us. It's normal that his name will be mentioned with other clubs, but it's just rumours," said Silva.