Spirit, fitness and belief

Match of the Day 2 analysis

Tottenham’s victory at Manchester City was a fantastic result, and the way they won the game also showed us why they have become genuine title contenders.

What I saw from Spurs was a well-organised, well-balanced performance with a healthy respect for the opposition, but also a confidence in their own ability and creativity.

It showed their spirit, fitness and belief that they were prepared to go and try and win the game in the last 10 minutes because a draw would have been a decent result at a ground where they have been beaten on their last five visits.

Tottenham ended a run of five successive league defeats at the Etihad Stadium, earning their first victory there since May 2010

At this stage of the season, momentum and confidence play a huge part in deciding the title race and, at the moment, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have both.

They are two points off the top of the table after winning five Premier League games in a row and results like this one will make them believe that they can be champions in May.

Spurs show their squad is strong enough

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Perfect performance by Spurs – Pochettino

It was a complete team performance by Spurs. When I think about who was my man of the match, it could have been one of five or six players, which shows how good they all were.

Part of that was down to the depth in their squad, which was illustrated in several different ways.

I don’t just mean the players that Pochettino could bring off the bench, even though substitute Erik Lamela did set up Christian Eriksen’s winner.

The big question for me was at centre-half where Kevin Wimmer has had to come in for the injured Jan Vertonghen.

Wimmer had helped Spurs keep clean sheets in their wins over Norwich and Watford but in Sergio Aguero he was up against arguably the best striker in the league.

Tottenham have conceded only 20 goals in 26 Premier League games this season, the best defensive record in the top flight. Since Wimmer came in for the injured Vertonghen, they have conceded only one in three matches

The biggest compliment I can pay the 23-year-old Austrian is that his side did not miss Vertonghen at all.

Wimmer was only making his third league start in English football but he looked as though he had been part of the team all season.

He and his partner Toby Alderweireld were excellent without the ball, got their positional play right and made some great interceptions.

With the ball, their passing out from the back gave Spurs a great platform to attack.

A lucky penalty but not a fortunate win

Danny Rose put in eight crosses during the game against Man City, five more than any other Spurs player

Spurs again rotated their full-backs, replacing Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, and again they had an important role going forward.

It was Trippier who scored the winner against Watford last week – this time Rose had a lot of joy down the left, especially in the first half.

David Silva was drifting infield and leaving Rose acres of space to bomb into and Tottenham kept finding him, which put a lot of pressure on City’s right-back Pablo Zabaleta.

In the second half, it was Rose’s cross that hit Raheem Sterling for the penalty.

Any team that win the title need a bit of luck along the way and, on Sunday, Spurs got some with that decision.

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Penalty decision absolutely wrong – Pellegrini

But, once you get that bit of fortune in a game, you have to take advantage of it and Pochettino’s side certainly did that.

Their victory at Etihad Stadium was even more impressive because they were playing a high-quality City team who did not do too much wrong.

City had set up the right way to play Spurs, with two holding midfielders, and their centre-halves pushed up to deny Harry Kane space and snuffle out his threat.

But Spurs still grew into the game, enjoying some good possession, and when they were put under pressure, they defended brilliantly.

They were the better team, and I would not say they were lucky to win.

Time to prioritise the Premier League

Tottenham are still in two other competitions – the Europa League and FA Cup.

Personally, I think they should put all their eggs in one basket and concentrate on the title race, but I don’t think Pochettino will see it that way.

He will want a trophy of some kind to show for this season, there is no doubt about that.

Pochettino deserves credit for using his squad the way he has done this season and, so far, it has worked. They certainly did not look tired against City and he can clearly mix things up in Europe and still field a strong team there too.

But it is asking an awful lot of his squad to challenge on three fronts for the next three months, and my priority would be the Premier League, because Spurs have never had a better chance of winning it.

Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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