Spurs grow into contenders' role

Pochettino revels in West Brom display that shows his men have learnt from last season

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has said that Tottenham are ready to fight for the English Premier League title after Harry Kane's hat-trick inspired a 4-0 rout of West Bromwich.

The manager felt that Saturday's win sent out a powerful message - that Spurs are more mature than they were last season, when they fell away in the final matches.

His team had beaten Manchester City in October only to stumble with four straight draws.

But, following the 2-0 victory over Chelsea in their previous game, they did not let their levels drop.

The Argentinian even said that the hammering of West Brom, their eighth success in 10 games, was one of the most complete performances of his 2 ½-year tenure.

WHAT A GAME

Today, we did not even concede a corner. The performance was brilliant, especially in the first 45 minutes.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, praising his men after their 4-0 Premier League home win over West Brom.

He said: "After Chelsea, it was a big challenge to keep the momentum and show we are mature enough to fight for big things - and this was a very good example.

"We have more belief now and we are much better than last season. We have nine more points than we had at this stage last season (after 21 games).

"We are showing that we have learnt a lot from last season. Today, we did not even concede a corner. The performance was brilliant, especially in the first 45 minutes.

"Now, we are looking at (Saturday's opponents) Manchester City. That is the most important game."

Victory came at a cost, with centre-back Jan Vertonghen leaving the field in tears in the second half after suffering an ankle injury.

The Belgian is still waiting to learn the full extent of the injury.

While Pochettino admits it could be serious, the Argentinian believes that he has enough cover within the squad to avoid the need to dip into the January transfer market.

He said: "You can see in the game that Ben Davies can play. I think we have plenty of players we do not need another defender."

Kane took his tally for the league season to 13 in 16 matches - he has two more in the Champions League - to round off a momentous week.

Last weekend, he became a father for the first time.

"I'm very delighted for him," added Pochettino. "It was very nice, a very good week for him.

"He is a dad and has scored three goals. I think it was a good way to finish the week for him.

"It is true that he has not yet realised that his life has completely changed, it is a different life.

"But he won't change because he is very mature and his wife is amazing and understands what he needs."

West Brom manager Tony Pulis admitted his side, who came into the game in eighth position, were well beaten.

"The top six in the Premier League this year, it could be the biggest gap ever to seventh, that's how far ahead of the rest of us they are," said Pulis.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Spurs grow into contenders' role'. Print Edition | Subscribe