Mauricio Pochettino described Tottenham Hotspur’s performance in the 2-0 home win against Manchester City as “nearly perfect” as he demanded consistency from his players to underpin a Premier League title challenge.
Tottenham took an early lead through Aleksandar Kolarov’s own-goal and with Dele Alli scoring the second on 37 minutes, they jumped to within a point of City at the top of the table. Spurs brought the passion and they could even afford to miss a second-half penalty through Erik Lamela.
Pochettino said: “I’m very happy. The performance was nearly perfect. Collectively we worked very hard and all the players were fantastic. We are a team that always wants control, City want the same and then it becomes a battle on the pitch.
“The battle to keep possession in the middle was one of the keys. Our mentality was to be aggressive and play in the opposition’s half – not only to run in behind them with the ball but to play the way we want to play.
“I told you after the Champions League loss to Monaco that I was very disappointed not by the performance but with the lack of passion. I talked about that today – you can win or lose but don’t regret anything or anything you show on the pitch. That is the attitude we need to keep. It’s too early to talk about aims but it’s important to be consistent. If we can play like this, why not be consistent for the whole season? If we play with the passion we showed today, we have enough quality to fight with the big teams.”
The midfielder Victor Wanyama said: “We always felt we were strong and we knew we could get something. We know we can beat anyone. If we continue playing like this, it can take us somewhere good, somewhere better than last season.”
Lamela grabbed the ball for the penalty and he resisted the attempts of Son Heung-min, who played as the No9, to take it from him. Lamela’s kick was saved by Claudio Bravo. “I am now playing as a main striker and I wanted to show ambition by taking the penalty,” Son said.
Pochettino said: “It’s who feels better to shoot in the moment. Two players wanted to shoot and that’s always better than nobody wanting the ball. The players are allowed to discuss it and then take the decision. I cannot run to the middle of the pitch and say: ‘Not you.’”
Tottenham have the Premier League’s only unbeaten record and Pep Guardiola, the City manager, said Spurs must be contenders for the title. “They were last season, so why not this?” he said. “They have the same trainer for the last two or three years, and new players. In two or three years my team will be better. Football is a process. When you lose, you learn. We have to keep going.”