Mauricio Pochettino has warned Leicester that title-chasing Tottenham are ready to step on the gas as the race for pole position in the Premier League hots up.
Thanks to Harry Kane’s latest heroics in Sunday’s swaggering 3-0 win over Bournemouth, Pochettino’s second placed team are just five points behind Leicester heading into the final seven games of a gripping title battle.
Kane took just 44 seconds to open the scoring at White Hart Lane and he added a superb second before Christian Eriksen made it three.
For the first time since winning the English crown in 1961, Tottenham find themselves in the thick of the closing stages of a title race and, on the evidence of their emphatic dismissal of Bournemouth, they are the most credible candidates to take advantage of any slips from Leicester.
And with their Europa League campaign ended by Borussia Dortmund last week, Tottenham boss Pochettino believes his team will benefit from having extra recovery and training time as they try to overhaul the shock leaders.
“It’s true we go into a different period now,” Pochettino said.
“After the international break we’ll play one game every week and we’ll have time to prepare games in a different way.
“It’s the same for training, we can improve and do a lot of things that were impossible before.
“We are in a moment where we need to see our future in a very good way. It’s important to keep working hard and fight in every game.”
For Tottenham to catch Leicester, Pochettino knows he needs to keep Kane fit and firing on all cylinders, so he will be keeping his fingers cross the England forward comes back from the forthcoming international friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands with a clean bill of health.
Kane is now the league’s leading scorer this term with 21 goals after running the Bournemouth defence ragged en route to passing the 20-goal barrier for a second consecutive season.
– Maturity –
And Pochettino had no qualms about placing the 22-year-old in the highest bracket when asked where he stood among the league’s top strikers.
“Is he the best striker in the Premier League? For me, yes. Harry is one of the best strikers of the ball in the world. Today he was fantastic,” Pochettino said.
Inspired by Kane, their slick passing and movement was too intelligent for Eddie Howe’s team and Pochettino described the performance as Tottenham’s most complete this season.
“We played a lot of good games this season but today was complete. It helped us to score early. From then we managed the game and had control. We did very well,” Pochettino said.
“The energy of the team was fantastic. I’m very pleased with that after a busy period.
“We can feel very proud with the way we played. We showed a lot of maturity.”
Tottenham arguably have a tougher run-in than Leicester, with a trip to Liverpool followed by a home game against Manchester United in their next two matches.
But Pochettino was quick to play down fears Tottenham could choke in the final furlong.
“The fixtures are the way they are and we cannot change that. We need to believe,” he said.
“Every game now is very tough, but you never know what can happen.
“Leicester have a good advantage but we have to fight to reduce the gap.”
After watching his team’s run of three successive victories ended in ruthless fashion, Bournemouth boss Howe has no doubts about Tottenham’s ability to win the title.
“In the first half they moved the ball incredibly well. In the two games against them, without a doubt they have been the best we’ve faced,” said Howe, whose side were thrashed 5-1 by Tottenham in October.
“They work very hard but then they’ve got the quality of Harry Kane to hurt you.” – Agence France-Presse