Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says Liverpool and Manchester City “are the real contenders” for the Premier League title, despite his side thrashing Bournemouth to go second in the table.
A ruthless Spurs made it five league wins in a row and scored their 11th goal in four days to move above City, after the reigning champions were beaten at Leicester.
Pochettino’s side remain six points behind leaders Liverpool, who host Arsenal before travelling to City in their next two games.
“It is one thing to be a point above them, but Manchester City are the reigning champions and Liverpool are doing fantastic,” said Pochettino.
Right-back Kyle Walker-Peters put in a superb performance as he created all three of Spurs’ first-half goals against Bournemouth at Wembley.
The 21-year-old teed up Christian Eriksen to open the scoring with a deflected effort, before Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura strikes put the hosts firmly in control.
Harry Kane added a fourth from a clever Eriksen pass and Son grabbed his second after a scramble in the Bournemouth box.
“We are in a very good position, but Liverpool and Manchester City are the real contenders,” added Pochettino.
“We are between them and there is still a lot of work to do.”
The hosts rode their luck moments before Eriksen’s opener, with Ryan Fraser heading against team-mate Junior Stanislas on the line and David Brooks just unable to lift Jefferson Lerma’s pass over goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
But Spurs made the visitors pay with three goals in 22 minutes as Eriksen’s drive struck Lerma to wrong-foot goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, before Son finished smartly from the edge of the box and Moura turned in Walker-Peters’ clever pull-back.
Kane volleyed in just after the hour mark to effectively put the game beyond the Cherries, and Son continued his impressive run of form by adding his second 20 minutes from time.
Walker-Peters proves unlikely hero
Tottenham’s campaign is gathering pace. This was their 12th victory in 14 games in all competitions and one that maintains their best start to a Premier League season.
Twenty-four days after a humbling defeat by north London rivals Arsenal that meant they started December by dropping out of the top four, Spurs are in the last 16 of the Champions League, the Carabao Cup semi-finals and now sit second in the Premier League.
On chairman Daniel Levy’s Christmas wishlist will have no doubt have been moving into the club’s new home, fending off interest in their sought-after boss and adding silverware to their trophy cabinet for the first time in more than a decade.
But Levy and manager Pochettino will surely be delighted at Spurs’ festive period so far as they added to Sunday’s 6-2 victory at Everton with another clinical attacking display.
Pochettino has suggested the club may go a second transfer window without making a signing in January, and he can be thankful for the performance of one of the club’s academy products against Bournemouth.
Walker-Peters continuously got the better of Charlie Daniels to create Tottenham’s opening three goals, pinching the ball off the Bournemouth left-back before teeing up Son’s first and then drifting on to a well-weighted pass from another of Spurs’ graduates, Harry Winks, to set up Moura.
The 21-year-old was assured defensively too, which can reassure Pochettino that he can be called on if Spurs look to rotate while attempting to compete on four fronts.
Howe in Spurs audition?
Pochettino’s name is likely to keep being linked with the vacant Manchester United manager’s job until the Old Trafford club announce a full-time successor to Jose Mourinho.
Should Tottenham fail to keep the Argentine, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe may well top their list of potential replacements.
But things did not go to plan on Wednesday for the 41-year-old – whose tenure with the Cherries is nearing a decade, either side of a 21-month spell at Burnley – as his side’s defensive frailties were unmasked by a ruthless Tottenham performance.
Howe has a similar knack to Pochettino for developing young, talented players, with midfielders Fraser and Brooks impressing at Wembley, despite the scoreline.
Brooks – who was released by Manchester City and spent time on loan at Halifax before joining the Cherries from Sheffield United in the summer – has flourished under the Englishman and proved his team’s main creative outlet.
Had the Wales international latched on to Lerma’s pass in the first half, things may have been different for the visitors.
Man of the match – Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
What the managers said
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport:“The effort was fantastic. To have one day less after Everton, I am very pleased with the performance.
“It is important to manage confidence in the right way, victory make us believe. Of course, think step-by-step and be ready to arrive at the next game in the best condition.
“We are only halfway to end of the season, we need to replicate the same second-half of the season. It is up to us, if we show the same quality and same belief and behave in the same way, then maybe at end of season I’ll talk in a way that maybe we fight for big things.”
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe:“It was a tough one – one of those days every shot they had went in, every shot we had didn’t.
“You have to admire qualities they have but it is disappointing we created so many opportunities ourselves. If we had got one back it might have been different.
“We conceded some bad goals, [which is] hugely frustrating on the back of a clean sheet. We wanted to build momentum.
“It is a tough Christmas period. We go to Manchester United and try and put it right.”
Cherries hate playing Spurs – the stats
- Tottenham are yet to draw after 19 Premier League games this season – the longest run in a top-flight season since Arsenal in 1983-84 (also 19 games).
- The 5-0 defeat is Bournemouth’s biggest in the Premier League and their largest in the league since a 6-1 loss to Watford in the Championship in August 2013.
- The Cherries have conceded 22 goals in their seven Premier League games against Spurs, at an average of 3.1 per game.
- Eddie Howe has lost six league games to Tottenham, only being beaten more times by Manchester City (seven).
- Christian Eriksen has scored 18 Premier League goals from outside the area – the most of any Spurs player in the competition’s history.
- Eriksen has assisted Harry Kane 18 times in the league – with only Frank Lampard to Didier Drogba (24), Darren Anderton to Teddy Sheringham (20) and Steve McManaman to Robbie Fowler (20) combining more.
- Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min has had a hand in 10 goals in his past nine Premier League appearances, scoring seven and creating three.
Tottenham host Wolves at Wembley on Saturday (15:00 GMT kick-off), while Bournemouth travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in Sunday’s 16:30 kick-off.