Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City: Spurs have suffered so many false dawns that even their most ardent fans had long given up hope of their team ever winning the league title but Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Manchester City has changed all that.
Spurs’ triumph at the Etihad Stadium, where they had lost on their last five visits, moved them within two points of Premier League leaders Leicester City and kept them in second place above Arsenal on goal difference with 12 matches to play.
All eyes have been on Leicester’s remarkable rise to the top of the table, after being bottom and facing relegation a year ago, and Tottenham’s steady progress this season has been overshadowed by The Foxes’ remarkable transformation.
But Spurs’ young team, responding to coach Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing philosophy – “part crack Army unit, part dance troop” as The Times called them on Saturday – occupy their highest position at this stage of a season since 1985.
A 53rd minute Harry Kane penalty and an 83rd minute strike by Christian Eriksen on his 24th birthday gave Spurs a fifth successive league win and moved them four points clear of City.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, now a pundit for Sky Sports, said Tottenham could complete the most remarkable Premier League story of all if Leicester fail to win the title.
“All season Leicester and Claudio Ranieri has been the story – it would be perhaps the greatest story ever in football in this country if Leicester were to win the league.
“If that doesn’t happen and Tottenham win the league, I think that’ll be the biggest story in Premier League history…
“If you look at the title winners, you expect them to spend big money but Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino have not done that and if they win the league it will also be the best managerial performance in the Premier League’s history.”
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry also praised his old enemies, saying: “They didn’t start the season all that well, but they stayed calm, no-one panicked, they stayed cool… Now they look like a team… that can win the league. You have to give the manager and his board the credit.”
Spurs last won the title in 1961, when they were the first English club in the 20th century to claim a league and FA Cup double, since when success has been confined to European and domestic cups.
The last time they finished second in the table was in 1963 and they have never finished third in the Premier League era.
No-one at Spurs, least of all Pochettino, talks of the title but with each win it is becoming an increasing possibility.