Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insists victory over leaders Chelsea proves his side are better equipped than last season to challenge for major honours and be crowned Premier League champions.
Midfield prodigy Dele Alli was Tottenham’s protagonist as the 20-year-old took his tally to seven strikes in his last four matches with two headed goals either side of half time.
Maximum points for Spurs not only destroyed Chelsea’s bid to set a new top-flight record of 14 successive victories in a single season but also moved the north Londoners above Manchester City and Arsenal into third.
Tottenham are now seven points adrift of the Stamford Bridge club, who retain a five-point lead at the summit despite suffering their first league defeat since 24 September.
“It is a massive victory, a very important three points to reduce the gap at the top of the table,” said Pochettino. “It was a very tough game, we were playing one of the best teams in Europe, so the value of the victory is massive.
“To cope with that type of game, not only to play well, but to be competitive is a thing you can only learn with time and experience. It is one step forward for the team and is important to keep going. Football is about belief.
“Maybe we missed a little bit to fight for big things last season. The most pleasing thing was we showed big character against a team fighting for big things.”
Tottenham had only won four of their 49 Premier League matches against Chelsea and it was the Blues who had the opening chance of the half after five minutes only for Eden Hazard to fluff his lines.
Hazard was clean through on goal after being released by a clever Nemanja Matic pass but scuffed his effort wide, and aside from Diego Costa blazing over when well-placed that was all Chelsea created in the opening 45 minutes.
Victor Wanyama and Christian Eriksen had sighters at goal which sailed past the post as Tottenham established themselves as the half progressed, while Eric Dier forced Thibaut Courtois into a relatively comfortable save from Danny Rose’s inswinging free-kick.
Chelsea failed to heed those warnings, however, and on the stroke of half time, Eriksen’s floated cross was met by a soaring Alli, who planted an emphatic header across Courtois and into the far corner of his net.
The visitors started the second period in livelier fashion. Costa’s low drive was repelled by Hugo Lloris, while Hazard was again culpable of glaringly missing the target, this time with a stooping header from within the six-yard box.
Tottenham doubled their lead and ultimately settled matters on 54 minutes and it was the same deadly combination as their opener. Eriksen provided the ammunition for Alli to rise and guide another clinical header beyond Courtois.