On Sunday afternoon Tottenham produced the sort of performance against Manchester City that makes the north London side look like real title challengers in the top-flight this season.
The 2-0 win at White Hart Lane illustrated just how good Spurs are under Mauricio Pochettino.
It could even have been worse for the Citizens, as Argentinian playmaker Erik Lamela saw a penalty kick saved by Claudio Bravo. (He should have let Heung-Min Son take it).
Overall it was a commanding display against the team considered by many to be the best in the Premier League. The game also saw Pep Guardiola’s first competitive defeat as City boss.
The pressing matter
Pep Guardiola has always liked his teams to press high up the field, thus putting the opposition defence under pressure. Winning the ball higher up the pitch also means more chance of an opportunity to score a goal.
Pochettino is from a similar school when it comes to style. On Sunday quite simply Spurs gave City a taste of their own medicine. The Tottenham players tend to work hard to press from the front in normal games.
However, against City the pressing went into overdrive and it proved highly successful. The Tottenham player pressed the opposition and City looked nervous at the back. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has really not enjoyed the best of starts to life in the top-flight.
The jury will be out on him and Guardiola for signing him for a good while if he does not start looking more convincing in the City goal soon.
Looking at Tottenham’s squad it has actually got some good depth to it. What is even better for Pochettino is that he has players like Eric Dier, Heung-Min Son, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen who are versatile.
Incredibly Spurs started yesterday’s game without three key players in Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Harry Kane, yet still produced an accomplished performance.
Son did a good job up front after being preferred to Vincent Janssen for the role. While Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko produced good displays in the centre of midfield in Dier and Dembele’s absence.
The absence of Kane is no doubt a blow. However, the win over City shows that Pochettino has the squad and the tactical acumen to get the best out of his available players. The Argentinian has been quietly but impressive building a good squad of players. He has also done it without spending a fortune by big club standards.
Last season Spurs put in a valiant effort challenging for the Premier League title. However, maybe the number of games told towards the end on some of the Spurs players. No doubt Spurs have a bigger and stronger squad this season.
The title challenge of last season will have also taught the players and boss Pochettino a lot. The Argentinian will have learnt a lot about his team and players last season. He will also have learnt a lot about their likely rivals for the top four and possibly even the title.
Outsiders for the Premier League title
Sunday’s win means that Tottenham currently lie second in the Premier League table, just a point behind leaders Manchester City.
Spurs record of won five and drew two this season in the Premier League is a very good one, considering the draws were against Everton and Liverpool.
Last season Tottenham were considered outsiders for a place in the top-four. In fact, even after last season’s stellar campaign and third place finish Spurs were still considered outsiders for the top four in the current campaign.
Tottenham have to be considered as possible title challengers this season. At the moment Pochettino’s side are odds of 7/1 to be crowned champions at the end of the season.
Those odds make Spurs joint-third favourites for the title alongside arch-rivals Arsenal. Only Liverpool and Manchester City shorter odds to win the title.
Following Sunday’s performance. It would be highly surprising if this bright young team, with a bright young boss was not right up the top of the table fighting for the title in May.
Are Tottenham realistic Premier League title contenders?