Tottenham are right in the hunt for the Premier League title hunt, believes Paul Merson, who insists Spurs’ start to the season is similar to how well Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea teams started their league-winning campaigns.
Spurs have not won a top-flight title since 1961 and are without a major trophy since 2008, with Mourinho installed as Mauricio Pochettino’s successor a year ago to try and end that drought.
The north London side have made surprisingly quick progress under the Portuguese coach and this term, the blistering form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min has helped Spurs start strong.
After eight matches, Mourinho’s men are only one point behind leaders Leicester headed into the international break having gone seven unbeaten since losing to Everton on the opening weekend.
Spurs boast the division’s most prolific attack and the joint-best defensive record at current although Merson is keen to urge caution, with the Londoners taking on Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Leicester and Wolves in their next seven league games.
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Yet with three-time Premier League-winning manager Mourinho in charge, former Arsenal and Aston Villa attacker Merson – a self-confessed Chelsea supporter – believes Spurs have a very real chance of winning the ultimate prize.
Tottenham currently boast 17 points from an available 24 while the 2004-05 and 2005-06 Chelsea teams managed by Mourinho had 20 and 24 respectively at this same stage, and the 2014-15 title-winning side had 22 from 24.
And Merson thinks Spurs’ performance levels mean they can have a real say in the destination of the title this term, although he still backed reigning champions Liverpool to reign supreme for a second straight season.
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“It’s a hard question to answer,” Merson told Sky Sports when asked if Spurs can win the league this year after a late 1-0 win away at West Brom. “They are going to be very reliant on Harry Kane.
“But, to be fair, results like the win at West Brom, they win you league titles. You look back on results like that and come what may, you remember it as a difficult game against one of the teams down at the bottom, who couldn’t win a game but turned up on the day, and it turns out to be an important win.
“That’s what you are up against if you want to win the Premier League. You watched West Brom against Fulham and they were atrocious. You start to think Tottenham have only got to turn up on Sunday morning and as long as they don’t forget their boots, they’ll win the game and move on.
“But in the end, it was a very hard game and Mourinho is probably sitting there asking himself why they didn’t turn up and play like that against Fulham. That’s how hard the Premier League is.
“Can Spurs go on and win the title? It’s not impossible and that’s because they’ve got a serial winner as a manager. They’ve got a chance because Mourinho is in charge and has won it before. He knows what it takes to get over the line.
“Can the players keep producing week in, week out? Only time will tell, but having Mourinho at the club gives them an advantage.
“Mauricio Pochettino was a good manager, don’t get me wrong. However, they’ve now got more chance of winning the title because of Mourinho. He knows what you have to do week in, week out and then all over again.
“You have to be there or thereabouts all the time. You cannot be giving teams six, seven or eight-point head starts, and they are right in the mix at the moment.
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“A word of caution, though. Everyone’s talking about the title and because it is November, people think we’re nearly halfway through the season. Usually we’d have played about 15 games by now and that’s a massive difference, but we’ve only played seven or eight games.
“But when Mourinho won the title at Chelsea, they always got off to a flyer. He’s the only manager I know who treats every game like it is the last of the season. Every point mounts up and Mourinho always flies out of the stalls in a title-winning year.”
Merson added: “With Kane on fire and the other attacking players they’ve got at their disposal, they’ve got a chance. A real chance, but, for me, I just can’t see past Liverpool.”
But Mourinho is having none of the title talk and insists at this stage, there are a whole host of Premier League teams in the mix.
“I would say that this [Tottenham] team could be champion in many European countries,” he said.”
“The Premier League is the most difficult one to be, because in the Premier League you can do a good season, can have lots of points, but in the end… Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man United, Leicester, Arsenal.
“So you can have a good season and not be champion. So what can we do? We go match after match. We try to win, we don’t care about the others.
“I promise you I’m not worried about Leicester v Wolves, or City v Liverpool. If Liverpool wins, it is because City loses points. If Leicester wins, it is because Wolves dropped points.
“So I don’t care, I just want the team to play match after match, and then at the end of the season let’s see where we are.”
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