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Tottenham dare to dream of a first title in 51 years

Published: Thursday 12 January 2012, 9.53CET
With Tottenham Hotspur FC now just three points off the pace in England, Rafael van der Vaart was among those to champion the idea that Spurs are genuine title contenders.
by Josh Hershman
from London
Tottenham dare to dream of a first title in 51 years
Aaron Lennon (left) and Luka Modrić have been a key part of Tottenham's impressive midfield ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 12 January 2012, 9.53CET

Tottenham dare to dream of a first title in 51 years

With Tottenham Hotspur FC now just three points off the pace in England, Rafael van der Vaart was among those to champion the idea that Spurs are genuine title contenders.

Without a league title since the 1960/61 double-winning campaign, the Tottenham Hotspur FC faithful could be forgiven for beginning to dream after a 2-0 victory against Everton FC at White Hart Lane moved them level on points with Manchester United FC in second and three behind leaders Manchester City FC.

We have a fantastic team, everybody can score, everybody can play so it is nice to watch
Rafael van der Vaart
The double-winning team was a great team with all those amazing players. I remember looking at them, watching them and playing against them in the latter parts of their careers
Harry Redknapp on Spurs' last title-winning side

It is a far cry from the club's start to the season, which included emphatic defeats by the Manchester pair in their opening two games – there was certainly no title talk then. However, one loss in 18 Premier League matches and 45 points from a possible 54 since September have propelled Tottenham into contention. Indeed, they have not fared better at this stage of a top-flight campaign since the days of Bill Nicholson, who has a road named after him outside the ground, when they became the first 20th-century team to win the English championship and FA Cup in the same season.

The north London side play fluent, attacking football with Scott Parker providing steel and resilience in a creative and dynamic midfield which has been central to their resurgence. Rafael van der Vaart operates at the top of that midfield, adding goals which Tottenham have lacked in recent years, but the Dutch international stressed it is not only the ingenuity of Luka Modrić and the frightening pace of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon that have given Spurs the edge this term.

"We have a fantastic team, everybody can score, everybody can play so it is nice to watch," said the former Real Madrid CF man. "Manchester City have too many good players, they always have players who can score a goal or decide a game, but we are more of a team. Everybody knows that Tottenham have a great team – if we can keep on playing like this then we are among the favourites for the title."

Manager Harry Redknapp was keen to play down his club's title chances after last night's win against the Toffees but Lennon's first-half goal and Benoît Assou-Ekotto's long-range strike ensured the sell-out crowd went home with the Premier League summit in their sights. "Who knows? Nothing is impossible," said the 64-year-old coach. "The double-winning team was a great team with all those amazing players. I remember looking at them, watching them and playing against them in the latter parts of their careers so to get anywhere near as good as them you have to be good believe me, but this is a good team."

Everton captain Phil Neville, who knows what it takes to be crowned champions having done so six times during a ten-year spell at Manchester United, acknowledged Tottenham were genuine contenders, yet also had a warning for Redknapp's men. "The biggest test in any title-winning run is when you lose or draw a game and you have to bounce back. Everything seems to be going nicely for them, they are playing some of the best football of any team in the league, but come March and April it is how you react to that and that is the biggest test."

While maximum points from the next two home matches against struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Wigan Athletic FC will be essential to maintaining their challenge, it is the trips to Manchester City, Liverpool FC, Arsenal FC and the visit of Manchester United in the next six weeks that will determine whether Redknapp's vintage can emulate the success of the Nicholson era.

Last updated: 12/01/12 16.40CET

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