LONDON • If Leicester City are the sensation of the English Premier League football season, Tottenham Hotspur are emerging as surprise No. 2.
Their sixth win in succession - a 1-0 triumph over Watford at White Hart Lane on Saturday - was far more emphatic than the scoreline suggests and added to the quietly spoken suspicion that the team, who now stand second in the table, could yet finish on top.
Kieran Trippier's goal may have been the only difference between the teams on the scoresheet, but the Watford manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, admitted that his side had been utterly overwhelmed.
He, for one, has no doubt that Spurs can be champions.
"They deserve to fight for the league," he said. "They play very well. They have a very clear plan. They have good technical and individual players. They defend well. They have everything needed to try to win the championship.
"The problem with playing against Tottenham is they have a lot of variation. It's very difficult to stop them. They have high quality, high velocity, very technical level and high power. They create space in an amazing way and it was very difficult for us to solve every problem in defence."
Mauricio Pochettino's side indded do not look like tiring soon. In fact, they seem a team still in search of perfection.
They are leaner with each passing week, faster and more confident. Like a middle-distance runner, they might prefer to stay on the shoulder of Leicester and wait for an opportune moment to pounce.
Following Saturday's dominating victory - when Harry Kane, twice, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Ben Davies, twice, all had a sight of goal - Pochettino is convinced his players are starting to believe they can deliver the Premier League title to White Hart Lane.
The Argentinian's side are five points behind leaders Leicester and a victory at Manchester City next weekend would underline their title credentials.
Pochettino has no doubts that his side can sustain their challenge and be crowned English champions for the first time since 1961.
"I believe in my players. We will see," he said. "In football, belief is the most important word. If we believe, anything can happen.
"I believe in my squad and they believe too in the way we play.
"This synergy is very important for the future. But it is better not to speak too much, only show, work hard."
Few would have predicted a top two of Leicester and Tottenham at this late stage of the season, but Pochettino is not surprised by his team's rise or the stunning ascent of the Foxes.
"We are in a very good position but we need to keep working and not think too much about the future so we can be ready to compete again like we did (against Watford)," he said. "For me historically Tottenham are bigger than a lot of clubs in England. It is not a surprise we are in a good position.
"Leicester fully deserve their position and how they won the game (on Saturday) they completely deserved it because they were better than Manchester City.
"But our position, we do not look at Leicester or other clubs. The challenge is to win and improve every day in every competition and we see what happens in the end."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE