Wednesday night’s victory at St. Mary’s provided a little bit of history for Tottenham Hotspur, as they recorded their highest Premier League points total in a calendar year, the three points from Southampton taking their 2016 total to 71. The gap between themselves and North London rivals Arsenal now stands at just a point, but with ten points between them and leaders Chelsea, manager Mauricio Pochettino is keen to strengthen his hand in January, in a bid to not only challenge for the title but to ensure the club fulfils its minimum target of qualification for the Champions League.
The London Evening Standard‘s Tom Collomosse has released a definitive list of the players thought to be on Mauricio Pochettino’s shortlist, the first of which is Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
The Toffees academy graduate has 18 months left on his current deal at Goodison Park and is yet to enter negotiations over an extension, and having been in an out of the side under Ronald Koeman this season, a £35 million move to White Hart Lane may be on the horizon, although this move may come in the summer rather than as early as the January transfer window.
Another Premier League player to feature on the list of targets is Wilfried Zaha. Pochettino and Spurs had a bid for the winger turned down by the Eagles in the summer, but according to the Standard they still harbour a strong interest in the capped England turned Ivory Coast player, and a January bid is likely to test the resolve of Crystal Palace and new manager Sam Allardyce.
A third target to be included on the list is Bundesliga youngster Max Meyer. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder from Oberhausen is on the books of Schalke at present, and has been highly touted as an up and coming star for some time, but has not quite yet lived up to his billing. Mauricio Pochettino perhaps feels his policy of bringing through young players at White Hart Lane could get the best out of the youngster, who has just one goal and one assist from his 21 Bundesliga outings for the Gelsenkirchen outfit this season.
Away from impending transfer business, despite the ten point point gap between Spurs and pacesetters Chelsea, Spurs striker Harry Kane has remained defiant about the title chances of the North Londoners following their convincing win at Southampton on Wednesday.
Chelsea are on a club-record run of 12 consecutive wins but Spurs are unbeaten at White Hart Lane this season and are growing in confidence following the return of key defender Toby Alderweireld from injury. Kane himself moved into double figures for Spurs goals for the season with a header in a 4-1 win at Southampton on Wednesday, despite missing two months of the season with an ankle problem. He has eight in 10 games since his return to fitness.
“We have put together a good run,” Kane told the Daily Mail. “We’ve won a few in a row and we need to keep winning. Chelsea have won 12 in a row and hopefully we can put a stop to that run.
“We’re focused on Watford (on New Year’s Day) first — to get another win there — but it is a big game against Chelsea and we don’t want to fall too far behind them. So whatever happens we have to try to win that game.
“We have to try to win every game and hope Chelsea and the teams above us drop points. We can’t have too many off days. We are going to keep fighting and pushing until the very end.”
Chelsea’s next clash is against Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, where they will attempt to equal Arsenal’s record of 13 successive victories in a single Premier League season. Tottenham travel to Hertfordshire to face Watford at Vicarage Road the following day, but the London Derby with the Blues will be critical, and could end any realistic challenge from Spurs if they fall further adrift of Antonio Conte’s men.
“I can see why people might think that,” Kane said. “We’re not going to think like that. We’re here to try to stop that from happening. There are six strong teams in the running for the title. We are in the mix and all we can do is win games and see where it takes us.”
Spurs had led at Stamford Bridge in November through a wonderful Christian Eriksen strike before Chelsea fought back with goals from Pedro and Victor Moses to take the points, in what would ultimately be game number seven in their record breaking feat.
“We need to try to avenge that at home,” said Kane. “We’ve been very good at home this season and we have to take that confidence into the game.”
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