LONDON • When Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur play as they did yesterday, particularly in the first half, the tentative talk of this being the year when the title finally comes to White Hart Lane does not sound too fanciful.
West Bromwich Albion have come to be bogey opponents and their reputation for being a tough nut to crack under Tony Pulis is long established.
Spurs simply blew them away during the opening 45 minutes, which was as one-sided a half of football as has been seen for some time, before they finished the job - 4-0 - in the second period.
"I'm very proud. The effort was amazing and fantastic. We played wonderful football," said Pochettino. "The way we played today, they could not compete with us. We have learnt a lot and matured since last season."
Harry Kane helped himself to a hat-trick, which was a lovely way to celebrate the birth of his first child, Ivy, last Sunday.
Christian Eriksen once again excelled and Dele Alli was not too far behind in the ratings.
"The week has been a whirlwind having a little daughter - to finish it off like this is the best way possible," said Kane afterwards.
Tottenham now have six straight Premier League wins - and they have hit top form at the same time as they did last season, when they challenged seriously for the title.
Pochettino's three-at-the-back system looked perfectly calibrated and the only disappointment was a serious-looking ankle injury for Jan Vertonghen.
The centre-half was forced off in obvious distress. "It looks bad for Jan," Pochettino said. "We need to wait to assess him on Sunday or Monday. He is very disappointed."
West Brom had come to be compact, with a tight midfield trio plus wide midfielders who were so deep at the outset that the formation looked more like a 6-3-1.
Tottenham laid waste the plan and Kane might have had a hat-trick inside the opening 25 minutes. In the first half alone, he had five clear sightings of goal and the visitors could be thankful that goalkeeper Ben Foster's reflexes were on point.
Kane's crisply-finished goal after 12 minutes was the prelude to total Spurs domination.
Gareth McAuley, on an ill-fated 200th West Brom appearance, deflected Eriksen's 26th-minute shot past Foster.
And Kane struck with two sharp volleys in the last 15 minutes, the hat-trick goal coming from a lovely Alli assist, to take his season's tally to 15 in all competitions.
"We just weren't on it. Spurs were very good," said West Brom manager Pulis.
"We were miles off it and it's disappointing. They have real quality."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS