Over to you, Arsenal. On a weekend when Manchester United lost more ground in the race for the Champions League places and West Ham United moved to within a win of the top four, Tottenham Hotspur threw down the gauntlet with a 5-1 rout of Newcastle United.
Spurs dislodged the Gunners from fourth place on Sunday and showed why they are the team most likely to swipe a place in European football’s top club competition from the grasp of their north London neighbours, who can inch back in front at Crystal Palace on Monday evening
They also raised fresh questions about the longevity of Newcastle United’s revival, the home side’s ruthless second-half performance condemning Eddie Howe’s visitors to a third consecutive Premier League defeat.
It is only a little over a month since Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, exasperated at his team following a 3-2 win at leaders Manchester City with a tame defeat by Burnley, openly questioned whether he remained the right man for the job.
Since then they have won five of their six league games, scoring four goals or more on three occasions. Newcastle largely kept them at bay in the first half and even took the lead through Fabian Schaer’s free-kick, but then Spurs went up a gear or two.
Ben Davies equalised almost instantly, ensuring the teams went in level at half-time, after which Tottenham took a stranglehold on the contest with three goals in less than 20 minutes, from Matt Doherty, Heung-min Son and Emerson Royal. Steven Bergwijn scored a late fifth.
Where previously under Conte Spurs were hit and miss, drawing only three of his matches in charge and oscillating between wins and losses in the others, they have discovered momentum. “To play against us is not easy in this moment,” he told Sky Sports.
Wing-back Doherty has been salvaged from the scrapheap and become a key player in Conte’s hard-running team, epitomised by the lung-bursting forward sprints of forwards Son and Dejan Kulusevski which tore Newcastle to ribbons.
Those qualities are currently perfectly complementing Harry Kane, who dropped deep repeatedly to receive possession before freeing Kulusevksi, for Son’s goal, or arrowing precision long passes into team-mates bursting into opposition territory.
“Kane’s performance was amazing,” Conte said. “I said to him that it was a shame he didn’t score but he played in a fantastic way. Many players with talent don’t want to work hard but he has been an example from the first day I arrived here.”
Conte said last week that finishing in the top four would constitute a miracle, but he acknowledged that extra time on the training ground had given Spurs a good chance. “For sure, the possibility to have more days to prepare the team has been helping us,” he added.
Newcastle, meanwhile, look to be in danger of losing all the momentum generated since the turn of the year. Following a seven-match run in which they took 19 points from a possible 21, they have now lost three league games in a row – and without scoring in open play.
At Spurs they were competitive for 40 minutes but then collapsed in alarming fashion. They appear to miss Kieran Trippier’s leadership qualities as much as his driving runs down the right flank and his pinpoint deliveries.
Tottenham were the first visitors to St James’ Park after the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle was eventually waved through in October. Back then they recovered from conceding first to run amok and underline the scale of the task facing the club’s new owners. On this weekend’s evidence, there remains a very long way to go indeed.