LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur struck another blow in the battle for a top-four finish but manager Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to concede the Premier League title race to Chelsea after a 3-2 win over Everton on Sunday.
With Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side showing no signs of slipping up, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United appear to be scrapping for second, third and fourth with nearly a third of the season remaining.
Yet there was a steely look in Pochettino’s eye after Tottenham recorded a ninth victory in their last 12 league games thanks to a brace from in-form striker Harry Kane.
A ninth successive home league win closed the gap on Chelsea to seven points before they play West Ham United on Monday.
Asked if he believed second-placed Tottenham could still catch their west London rivals, Pochettino told reporters: ”The most important thing is to have the belief on the pitch. And today I think we showed that.
“We need to be there. It’s not up to us, but it is up to us to be there if Chelsea fail. Today was an important three points for us to keep us second in the table.”
The Argentine celebrated wildly as Tottenham’s goals went in and berated his team at times too - a sign of the high standards he has set since arriving from Southampton in 2014.
He was delighted with his team’s performance though and believes the squad he has assembled can give the club some long-awaited silverware - they have only the 2008 League Cup title to show for the last decade.
“It is a fantastic achievement for the group. We feel very proud. We can make history with this group, they are good players and it is only the start of good things in the future,” said Pochettino, whose name is being linked with the Barcelona job after Luis Enrique said he would not be there next season.
Certainly if Tottenham retain the services of the likes of Kane, and Dele Alli who scored their third goal, the future looks bright for the north London club.
Kane took his league haul to 19 for the season and Pochettino praised his striker’s hard work.
“Harry feels fresh because he does double training sessions a lot, he takes care of himself,” Pochettino said. “He was upset afterwards because he didn’t get a hat-trick. That’s a great mentality. He is one of the best strikers.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar