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Spurs in better shape for title challenge: Pochettino

London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham Hotspur side have demonstrated they are now capable of sustaining a Premier League title challenge after falling just short last season.

Spurs faded in the final weeks last season, finishing third on the final day of the campaign after pushing eventual champions Leicester close for much of the second half of the season.

But Pochettino is convinced his players have learned from that experience and after moving up to second place following a one-sided 4-0 defeat of West Bromwich Albion –- their sixth successive league win –- believes they can close the seven point gap on leaders Chelsea.

“We need to move on and try to fight but now we have more belief,” said Pochettino.

“We are much better than last season. We are showing that we have learnt a lot from last season, we are more mature. Today we did not concede a goal.”

Pochettino’s side ended Chelsea’s run of 13 successive league wins when they beat Antonio Conte’s side in their last league outing.

And after a Harry Kane hat-trick and Gareth McAuley own-goal saw off West Brom, the Spurs manager is satisfied his team built on that win.

“The first 45 minutes was fantastic, it was wonderful football,” said Pochettino.

“We can feel very happy with the performance, the players played very well against a very difficult team.

“I think after Chelsea it was a big challenge to keep the momentum and show that we are mature enough to fight for big things and today was a very good example of that.

“I think the performance was brilliant. In all the games we always change small things to try to improve. Now we are looking at Manchester City and that is the most important game.”

Victory came at the cost of an injury to centre-back Jan Vertonghen who left the field in tears in the second half after suffering an ankle injury.

The Belgian is still waiting to learn the full extent of the injury. Pochettino admits it could be serious -– but he believes he has enough cover within his squad to avoid the need to dip into the January transfer market.

“The injury looks very bad,” said Pochettino.

“We feel very disappointed, it is a situation you never like to happen.

“It looks very bad but we need to wait a little bit, tomorrow or Monday we will be able to assess it better. His ankle is badly swollen.

“You can see in the game that Ben Davies can play. I think we have plenty of players we do not need another defender.”

Pochettino admitted Kane’s treble was the perfect end to a week in which the striker became a father for the first time.

“I’m very delighted for him,” said the 44-year-old Argentinian.

“It was very nice, a very good week for him. He is a dad and has scored three goals today. I think it was a good way to finish the week for him.

“I don’t believe that he will change.

“It is true that he has not yet realised that his life has completely changed, it is a different life.

“He won’t change because he is very mature and his wife is amazing and understands what he needs.”

West Brom manager Tony Pulis admitted his side, who came into the game in eighth position, were well beaten.

“The top six in the Premier League this year, it could be the biggest gap ever to seventh, that’s how far ahead of the rest of us they are,” said Pulis.

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