Tottenham can pip Leicester, says Gary Lim
Pochettino's men are underdogs, but expect some late twists to title race
For more than an hour yesterday morning (Singapore time), Tottenham's title bid seemed to run out of steam.
Then, as spontaneous as the first bloom that marks the beginning of spring, they burst into life.
Dele Alli killed Manchester United's resistance in the 70th minute, calming slipping the ball under goalkeeper David de Gea.
Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela scored in quick succession to reignite their title challenge.
Spurs didn't just win easily, they swept aside the Red Devils with some style, too.
The grit, explosiveness and the sense of mission epitomised their season.
They have scored the most number of goals (60) and conceded the least (25). By right, they should be running away with the title.
But, unfortunately, another team above them are writing their own fairy tale.
Leicester City are simply not letting up.
The league leaders have strung a sequence of six victories in their last seven matches - five of those by 1-0 scorelines - to keep Spurs at a comfortable distance away.
Seven points separate the two thoroughbreds no one expected to remain in the race at this stage, let alone form the leading duo.
But Spurs are certainly not making things easy for Claudio Ranieri's men.
Led by the Premiership's top scorer Harry Kane, who has 22 goals under his belt, the Lilywhites are snapping at the Foxes' heels with only one loss in their last 12 outings.
The England hotshot has formed a sizzling partnership with the 20-year-old Alli, the overnight midfield sensation who is showing maturity that belies his tender years.
With other midfielders such as Christian Eriksen and Lamela chipping in with the goals, Spurs are an unstoppable force this season.
At their base is a quintet responsible for the league's stingiest defence.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, centre backs Jan Vertonghen and Alderweireld, and fullbacks Kyle Walker and Danny Rose ensure that even when the team's attacking game doesn't go to plan, there is no need to panic, like in the first 69 minutes against United.
Spurs' hopes of a first top-division title since 1961 rest on Leicester coming unstuck as the pressure builds up.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino is adamant they are still right in it.
"We need to believe," he issued his rallying cry after the win over United.
The confidence in the camp is at its highest in decades.
For Spurs, it's all about staying within touching distance of Leicester and praying that they stumble at some point.
Spurs have to honour their side of the bargain too.
Winning their last five games - against Stoke, West Brom, Chelsea (the trickiest), Southampton and Newcastle - is certainly not beyond them.
In fact, if there is any team in the Premiership who look capable and consistent enough to win all their remaining matches, Spurs are the ones.
What's more, Leicester have the more difficult run-in, as they have to face West Ham, Swansea, Man United, Everton and Chelsea.
Expect a few more dramatic twists to an incredible season.
"It is important to win these games, to show the rest of the Premier League that we don’t give up."
— Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen
We're coming after you, Foxes
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned Leicester his side's emphatic win over Manchester United yesterday morning (Singapore time) proves they will not give up the fight for the Premier League title.
Leicester had beaten Sunderland earlier on Sunday to move 10 points clear before Spurs kicked off, but Pochettino's men held their nerve, thrashing United 3-0 to reduce the gap back to seven.
Three goals in six minutes from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela sealed the win at White Hart Lane and Tottenham must now hope the Foxes capitulate with six games left to play.
"It's true we sent a message that we are there, waiting and fighting," Pochettino (above) said. "If Leicester fail, we need to stay there, it's important. Seven points are a difficult gap to reduce, but we need to believe.
"The performance and the result showed that this team believe."
There was some concern over the fitness of Harry Kane, who appeared in discomfort when he hobbled off late on, but Pochettino said the Spurs forward was "okay" and suffering from only a dead leg.
Kane started the move that led to Alli's first goal and Tottenham were relentless thereafter - Alderweireld heading home Lamela's cross, before Lamela slotted in Danny Rose's pass to put United out of sight.
Also not in view was Pochettino, who had momentarily left the pitch to go to the toilet and missed Lamela's third.
"Did I miss the goal? Live, yes. I watched from the TV because I had just left the toilet in the manager's room," Pochettino said.
"I heard the crowd and I was quick to run to the changing room. I stayed calm in the moment because it's 3-0 and I watched the replay. It was a fantastic goal."
Surprise leaders Leicester's seven-point cushion makes them strong favourites to win the title, but Spurs' panache and substance have kept them in with a shout.
"Absolutely," said defender Jan Vertonghen, when asked whether they had the spirit and ability to be champions.
"If you feel the spirit in this team, it is something special at the training ground, in between the players. It's everywhere.
"If you feel the buzz around the club, it's something I haven't experienced before in this way.
"I am extremely excited. We have to keep this together. Not just the players, the squad as well, the crowd - and then nice things can happen."
The north London club could also soon face the challenge of swatting away interest from Europe's elite as Pochettino's standing in the game grows.
The win would have certainly caught United's eye and Vertonghen believes Pochettino is key to the bright future at White Hart Lane.
"For me, it is vital," he said. "To keep this thing going, he has to stay.
"Everyone wants him to stay and he feels that - that we want to fight for him and that this team are the best thing for him, so I hope he stays." - PA Sport.
LVG: United still bigger than Spurs
Louis van Gaal has apologised to Tottenham for not becoming their manager and claimed Manchester United will always be a bigger club despite watching his side lose 3-0 at White Hart Lane yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Spurs kept their Premier League title hopes alive, as a six-minute treble from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela stunned United and reduced the gap behind Leicester back to seven points.
United, meanwhile, are left to play catch-up in the race for Champions League qualification, as this defeat sees them trail Manchester City by four points with six games remaining.
Tottenham's progress under Mauricio Pochettino has been one of the stories of the season, but it could easily have been van Gaal sitting in the home dugout, given the Dutchman was chairman Daniel Levy's first choice to take over in the summer of 2014.
Asked if he regretted his decision to overlook the job in North London, van Gaal said: "In the balance, we are still ahead. The challenge is always bigger in a bigger club.
"I like also to sign for Tottenham. Daniel Levy knows that. But the challenge was bigger at Manchester United and shall always be bigger.
"I am sorry for Tottenham but Manchester United will always be the bigger club.
"It is a little bit pathetic that you ask that because they have won 3-0. It is easy to ask that but it is okay, you enjoy yourself."
United's preparations were far from ideal, as their team coach was stuck in traffic and arrived over an hour late, meaning kick-off had to be delayed half an hour.
The disruption seemed to have little effect on the visitors, however, as they put Spurs under heavy pressure during the opening 20 minutes, only to capitulate after half-time.
Van Gaal was adamant his side's travel disruption had no bearing on the defeat.
"No, I think in the first 20 minutes we were the better team," he said. - PA Sport.