By Simon Evans
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says his in-form team could be title contenders this season if they can find the consistency that has eluded them in the past.
Spurs, who are third, delivered a sensational performance as they romped to a 6-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday to move just two points behind second-placed Manchester City and six behind leaders Liverpool.
The emphatic way in which Spurs won, with an outstanding exhibition of passing and movement, raised the inevitable question of whether the title race is simply between Juergen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s teams or if Pocchetino’s side are now part of a three-horse race.
“No, I still believe Liverpool and Manchester City are the real contenders and favourites to win the Premier League. We are there but (so are) Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United,” said Pochettino.
“I think there is still a long way for me to say we are real contenders. Football is about being consistent of course. If we are able to be consistent and play in the way we did tonight I think yes maybe we could then be a real contender but there is still a long way,” he added.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min struck twice as Spurs responded to falling 1-0 down with a devastating display and Pochettino said his team need to deliver such results throughout the rest of the campaign if they want to topple the league’s top two.
“Now we are close but we need to be cautious, go step-by-step, game-by-game. We need to be conscious about that, we need to fight a lot, and there is still a long way, (we need to) work and to be consistent,” said the Argentine, who has guided Spurs to a top-three finish for the past three seasons.
“Being involved in four competitions will be tough but we are going to try. The mentality today was clear and we need to always think about the next game and try to win every game and to be in the best condition to fight for big things.”
Captain Harry Kane took a little more upbeat tone.
“Everybody’s been talking about Liverpool and Manchester City, and we’ve been getting on with it and doing well, like we normally do,” said the England striker.
“It’s important we carry that on now. The games are coming thick and fast but they’re games we can definitely win.
“We’ve had a good month and hopefully we can take that into January now – and February – and we’ll see where we’re at come April time,” he said.
Spurs have a relatively easy festive season — they host Bournemouth on Boxing Day and Wolves on December 29 before a trip to lowly Cardiff City on New Year’s Day.
Wins in those games could leave them very interested observers when City and Liverpool face each other at the Etihad on Jan. 3.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)