Not the headline maker but undefeated

White Hart Lane hasn’t seen a start this good since the days of Bill Nicholson. The best defence, the sole remaining unbeaten side in the top division and a club fresh from seeing off the team tipped to stroll it following their early-season display of shock and awe. It is still early days, but Spurs’ Sunday win over a Manchester City side that had won all of their six matches was a stunning statement about the north Londoners’ title prospects.

In fact, the version of Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino has built is looking very, very good indeed. The hype around the two Manchester clubs, along with Chelsea and Arsenal, enabled boss Pochettino’s side to find their feet under the radar. Solid at the back, potent up front and with the depth that many felt they lacked last season, they are most certainly pushing on this time around.

They now have 17 points from their first seven games. Only in their double-winning season – 1960-61 – have Tottenham made a better start to a top-flight campaign. Pochettino has sanctioned seven new contracts for the men central to his long-term planning, including England stars Danny Rose, Dele Alli and Kyle Walker. The Spurs manager’s band of brothers have learned from the heartache of being bullied out of the title race by Chelsea last season and they are back.

That current backline, drilled by Pochettino, has allowed their more creative players to express themselves. No wonder he is often touted for big jobs in Spain. Keeper Hugo Lloris gave an insight into his manager’s philosophy. He explained: “Last season we were already one of the best defences in the league. It’s one of our basics to be strong at the back. “It doesn’t mean we are a defensive team, we are the opposite. We try a lot and have a lot of risk in our game, trying to play as high up as we can on the pitch, putting pressure, as we did especially in the first half against City. This is our football style.

“But we have the ability to play with different options, like we did in the second half against them, playing a bit deeper, waiting and counter-attacking. “Football is always about spirit and team performance and the way we played against City was the perfect example.” Pep Guardiola’s City team have been outstanding in front of goal in their 11 games before Sunday. They have now conceded three goals in their last two top-flight games, however – the same number that Spurs have shipped all season. Sunday’s win came five days after Spurs’ Champions League trip to the Russian capital, where they ended CSKA Moscow’s unbeaten run.

Pochettino’s men now face away days at West Brom, Bournemouth and Liverpool, punctuated by a Champions League trip to Bayer Leverkusen, after this international break. Last season, panic would have gripped the white half of north London at the thought of trying to maintain their winning run without top scorer Harry Kane.

Where there has been concern about Spurs being a one-man team, Pochettino has instilled belief.

Son Heung-min netted the winner in Moscow and on Sunday he left City’s defence in bits. Summer buy Vincent Janssen – who netted 30 goals for club and country last season – has yet to hit top gear.

When Kane is fit again, Pochettino has the kind of dilemma that managers love to have.

In midfield, England star Eric Dier was on the bench on Sunday, watching £11million summer signing Victor Wanyama justify his inclusion with a Man of the Match display.

Moussa Sissoko, a £30m capture from relegated Newcastle, is producing his France form rather than the kind of display that underwhelmed in black and white stripes.

(Daily Mirror)

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