Tottenham display the stuff of champs in climbing to second, says Richard Buxton
Spurs show champions' mettle to move into second spot
(Kieran Trippier 64)
Talk of a title challenge remains banished at Tottenham Hotspur.
Perhaps Mauricio Pochettino's apprehension to indulge is for the best.
Actions continue to fly in the face of hollow words aimed at White Hart Lane's ongoing surge into this season's battle for the English Premier League crown.
Because it is not only the high-flying Leicester City who remain the most unlikely contenders - it's also Tottenham.
When the impetus has swung firmly in their favour, after Leicester emphatically saw off Manchester City, Spurs' youthful side delivered where their predecessors had failed.
Against an in-form Watford, they were far from clinical nor convincing but, ultimately, the job was done with little fanfare.
Recent evidence suggests that 2015-16 may be their time to finally end the long title drought.
They had done all the hard work against Quique Sanchez Flores' side - peppering Heurelho Gomes' goal with shots throughout.
All that was lacking was a goal. It arrived from a most unlikely source in Kieran Trippier - that in itself tells the tale of Spurs' current narrative.
The fullback's first goal for the club typified the maturity of a burgeoning squad which, supposedly, lack the experience to battle for the title against their well-stocked peers.
Spurs have suffered more than most in that respect, with Sol Campbell recently pontificating about his former club's deficiencies in their silverware quest.
The continued triumphing of their mental fortitude dispels such theories of derision.
But the presence of title winners has counted for little this season; Chelsea's reigning champions have tumbled down the table as quickly as they climbed to its summit.
City, too, have failed to evoke memories of their successes in 2012 and 2014.
Manchester United continue to resemble a pale imitation of the side still retaining the core of players that were crowned champions of England just three years ago, while Arsenal's own attempt to stake a claim under Arsene Wenger continues to fall short.
More unites first and second place in the title than the current six-point gulf between the sides would suggest.
Trippier's start to life at White Hart Lane stemmed from a similarly relegation-scarred experience to that of the table-topping Leicester.
Flourishing since joining from a condemned Burnley, the 25-year-old has shown the perks of being a wallflower in the EPL era.
Few anticipated him - Watford's defence certainly didn't. By the time they had, it was too late.
The same can be said of this Tottenham side under Pochettino's tutelage.
As their nearest and dearest continue to stumble and stagger their way out of the running, they continue to bear the hallmark of champions while others are talked about in such vein.
Pochettino will continue to prefer it that way; the unsuspecting ones always do.
- TOTTENHAM: Hugo Lloris, Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer, Ben Davies, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela (Son Heung Min 71), Christian Eriksen (Tom Carroll 90+2), Nacer Chadli (Dele Alli 60), Harry Kane
- WATFORD:Heurelho Gomes, Allan Nyom, Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos (Sebastian Prodl 53), Nathan Ake, Mario Suarez (Valon Behrami 45), Ben Watson, Almen Abdi (Troy Deeney 45), Etienne Capoue, Jose Manuel Jurado, Odion Ighalo
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