Man City to put Tottenham's new belief to the test

Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur holds off Ben White of Brighton
Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur holds off Ben White of Brighton
Image: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

London - There was a perception of Tottenham Hotspur under Mauricio Pochettino that they lacked the self-belief to win silverware and there was plenty of evidence to support that view.

Two near misses in the Premier League title race, FA Cup semi-final losses and then, when glory beckoned, a rather timid Champions League final defeat by Liverpool.

It is a year since chairman Daniel Levy pulled the plug on the Pochettino era and hired serial winner Jose Mourinho and there is growing optimism among the club's faithful that the Portuguese coach many did not exactly welcome with open arms might indeed be the special one.

Tottenham re-start after the international break in second place after eight games, behind Leicester City, the club that beat them to the title in 2016.

Pochettino enjoyed two better starts in terms of points after eight games, but there is something in the way Tottenham have gone about their business in this most odd of seasons that suggests something is brewing in north London.

There is a caveat though. Tottenham's 17 points have been collected against the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley and Southampton, although a 6-1 victory at Manchester United suggests they are no flat-track bullies.

Things are about to get a lot harder, starting tomorrow against stuttering Manchester City.

Tottenham are five points better off than Pep Guardiola's side, who have played a game fewer, and have scored 19 goals, almost twice as many as City.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter. Mourinho bridles at suggestions he is a pragmatic, defensive coach and some of the football his side have played this season has been sensational.

In their last game he even started with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale up front.

For all the talk of a Tottenham title challenge, Leicester look an even better bet, and they will be relishing Sunday's trip to champions Liverpool who will be with Mohamed Salah after his positive test for Covid-19 while on international duty.

With central defender Joe Gomez also ruled out after injuring his knee while away with England, not to mention Virgil van Dijk's long-term absence and Trent Alexander-Arnold also sidelined, Liverpool appear vulnerable.

Fixtures

Tomorrow: Newcastle v Chelsea, 2.30pm; Aston Villa v Brighton, 5pm; Tottenham v Man City, 7.30pm; Man United v West Brom, 10pm

Sunday: Fulham v Everton, 2pm; Sheffield v West Ham, 4pm ; Leeds v Arsenal, 6pm; Liverpool v Leicester City, 9.15pm

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