Why Tottenham pose more threat to Manchester City than any other
Tottenham Hotspur's poor record against fellow "Big Six" teams has been well-documented. After recording three wins from 21 outings in all competitions, recent results suggest Spurs are slowly working out how to compete with their direct Premier League rivals. Tottenham drew at Liverpool, beat Chelsea and Manchester United in their past three away games against title rivals. The hiccup against Watford aside, Mauricio Pochettino's squad has hit the 2017/18 ground running.
Despite a summer of discontent and stadium delays, Pochettino and his team are wholly positive. Even after defeating Manchester United, the Argentine had nothing but praise for his opposite number. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho was saluting fans who applauded his squad's effort despite a second-half collapse, then exited his press conference calling for respect from reporters.
United responded, securing a 2-0 victory over Burney at Turf Moor, but the Red Devils face an unexpected challenge following the international break. They travel to Vicarage Road to take on Javi Gracia’s Watford side. The Hornets remain perfect after four games, including the win over Spurs.
A response similar to United's from Tottenham isn't expected. They return to Premier League action with a visit to Liverpool, then host Inter in the Champions League. Their most recent trend suggests pundits should back them, however. Afterwards, Brighton visits. Then, it's a second visit to Vicarage Road for revenge in the League Cup, a match against Huddersfield and a real test at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. Following Barcelona, it's Cardiff, West Ham and PSV Eindhoven. Finally, they'll test themselves against the defending champions.
The real test comes immediately after the break but the Premier League run against bottom-half and promoted teams should provide impetus for their trip to the Etihad. Spurs didn't upgrade in the transfer window but they were arguably the Premier League's most balanced side already, not to mention its most consistently improving.
The last four campaigns respectively garnered 11, 14, 19, and 20 points from the opening nine games. Pochettino has slowly drilled a disciplined, clinical mentality into his squad. That steady buildup has led to success against top sides. They weathered the first-half storm at Old Trafford to remain on even terms, then dictated the match after the interval. That steady buildup has led to success against top sides. While everyone anticipates Liverpool making a big leap this season, it's Tottenham's baby-steps that may finally pay off.
Spurs last defeat to a top-six side came at City's hands in April, a 3-1 reversal at Wembley. In the interim, Pochettino's side has shown greater consistency while, early in this campaign, Pep Guardiola's side has struggled to find it. Spurs are now at their best when it comes to the big games. Liverpool are yet to play a heavyweight opponent. Spurs will be the first.
Jurgen Klopp's side kept clean sheets against lower-half sides Crystal Palace, West Ham and Brighton but conceded against last term's ninth-best side, Leicester. Will they be more vulnerable against the team who finished third? Tottenham intends to find out. If their success continues, they may be the team everyone is chasing come May.