Spurs putting pressure on Foxes, says Neil Humphreys
Spurs are the team of the moment, and ready to pounce on any Leicester slip-up
(Harry Kane 9, 71, Dele Alli 67, 82)
Leicester City's jittery title challengers are cliched characters in a third-rate horror movie.
Stumbling around in unfamiliar territory, they're trying to escape the roaring beasts behind, but they're slowing down and making mistakes.
What they must not do, what they should never, ever do in such circumstances, is turn around.
But they won't be able to help themselves. They'll steal a peek, against their better judgment, and witness the full terror of Tottenham behind them.
Some deranged fool on the Foxes' payroll would have watched Spurs devour Stoke yesterday morning (Singapore time) and will wander around training today looking like one of those horror movie characters; wide-eyed and deathly pale.
Claudio Ranieri and his weary warriors will say otherwise of course as they churn out their manager's beloved mantras, that they're taking it game by game and not thinking about the title.
But, in quieter, reflective moments, they must be thinking about nothing but Tottenham.
The gap has been reduced to five points and so has the psychological advantage.
Leicester looked tired against West Ham. Tottenham were terrific at Stoke, playing without fear or expectation. The shackles are off at Spurs and it shows.
A similar argument has been made for Leicester, the point being that the small town heroes have already won the Champions League lottery and earned global kudos. But that's nonsense.
Eight points from their four remaining games earn immortality. They are so close they can see the trophy in their dreams. At this late stage, only Leicester can throw the title away. It's both a living fantasy and an eternal nightmare.
Even Ranieri's cute quotes can't cover the insufferable tension that must be engulfing Leicester's dressing room, particularly in the wake of both Jamie Vardy's suspension and Tottenham's devastating performance.
Right now, only Spurs look like champions.
They are a team without weakness, an exhilarating attacking force fully aware of their current superiority.
With a brace each against Stoke, Dele Alli and Harry Kane have pinched the deadly duo crown from Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Roy Hodgson could be forgiven for doing the Uptown Funk around his office today.
The England manager has never had it so good. He has two Englishmen in the form of their lives, in sync, inseparable and unstoppable.
Mauricio Pochettino deserves all the credit of course. Only now, with four games to go, is the Tottenham manager's master plan really coming into sharp focus.
Stoke were not expected to lie down like this, not at home.
Mark Hughes' men target weak links, but there are none in the current Tottenham line-up. Spurs move seamlessly from front to back.
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have resumed their resolute partnership, after the former's spell on the sidelines, while Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were rarely around in defence.
They bombed forward to support Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, two intelligent players who were once dismissed as expensive misfits but are now an integral part of the attack.
Tottenham's stability, particularly on the road where they have conceded just 13 goals, is built on a dependable midfield core.
Moussa Dembele and Eric Dier treated the hostile atmosphere at the Britannia Stadium as if it were a kickaround in the backyard.
Their indomitable performances must concern Leicester at a time when Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton and Mahrez all looked lethargic against West Ham.
N'Golo Kante has carried his side to unparalleled success this season. But he can't carry three teammates for the last four games.
Spurs have no such concerns, with Dembele and Dier shielding a central defence that rarely needed the additional protection.
It seems a long, long time ago when Spurs were written off as a self-interested bunch of overpriced, mismatched transfer blunders to rival the erratic purchases at Liverpool and Manchester United.
Pochettino has taken the rough clay and sculpted something quite captivating, with Kane and Alli providing the piece de resistance.
Tottenham's only barrier is time. The clock should still defeat them.
How Pochettino must privately wish that his first 11 fell into place sooner to perhaps avoid those dropped points against West Ham and Arsenal.
If the league had a greater distance left to run, if there were five or six games remaining instead of four, then Spurs might have snatched the silverware their style and substance deserve.
But the Foxes would do well not to turn around nonetheless. Tottenham smell blood and are swiftly gaining ground.
Another slip or two and Leicester's fairy tale will be ripped to shreds.
KANE: WE CAN PIP LEICESTER
Harry Kane backed up his cheeky pre-match warning to Premier League leaders Leicester City with two goals in Tottenham Hotspur's 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The England striker posted a photograph of a pride of lions closing in on their prey on Instagram after Leicester's dramatic 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday left the door ajar for second-placed Tottenham to close the gap to five points.
It could have backfired had Tottenham failed to take advantage, but Kane showed his killer instinct with his side's first and third goals taking his league tally for the season to 24 - two more than Leicester's hitman Jamie Vardy.
"What a performance! Stoke is a tough place to come and to win in the manner we did shows what sort of team we are," England striker Kane said.
"We are not going anywhere. We are on the charge and we just have to keep doing what we're doing.
"We scored four, but could have had six or seven."
Asked about the photograph he posted, Kane added: "It was just a few lions waiting to pounce.
"After watching Leicester drop points, I have been itching to play. I had to wait a whole day and a half.
"We are ready to put the pressure on Leicester. We think we can do it. Leicester are five points ahead but we have closed the gap, that's all we could do."
Kane curled his side ahead after nine minutes and put the result beyond doubt with a cool finish after 71.
Dele Alli scored the other two, both superb finishes from Christian Eriksen's assists, although the midfielder also provided a miss of the season candidate when he shot against the post after going round Stoke goalkeeper Shay Given.
On his glaring miss, Alli said: "I don't know how I missed that chance! Finishing training for me I think.
"I am just enjoying playing, there is nothing to be scared of. Leicester know we are going to keep fighting."
Tottenham, dreaming of a first English title since 1961, have a league-leading 64 goals while conceding the least (25).
Manager Mauricio Pochettino was full of praise for the way his young side are responding to the challenge.
"Today, maybe I feel more proud because we had to play with the pressure to try to catch Leicester at the top which is not easy," the Argentinian said.
"But we're hungry and showed passion in our play. We are still fighting."
- Wire Services.
I think it is a good thing because it shows how the group is, how our squad are. We can win or not, but the desire and passion we show and how we enjoy the game is fantastic. It is a pleasure to work with them.
— Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino (above) on Harry Kane’s Instagram posting of a pride of lions (below)
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/HARRYKANE, REUTERS