Mousa Dembele: We’ve matured

Mousa Dembele believes Tottenham’s cool-headed victory over Chelsea proves how the team is growing up under Mauricio Pochettino.

Mousa Dembele: We’ve matured

Dele Alli scored twice as Spurs won 2-0 at White Hart Lane to climb to third in the table, above Manchester City and Arsenal, while spoiling Chelsea’s hopes of sealing a record-breaking 14th consecutive league win.

The result also earned Tottenham a measure of revenge for November’s 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge and, particularly, last season’s 2-2 draw, which ended Spurs’ own pursuit of history when they were gunning for the Premier League title.

In both matches, Pochettino’s men threw away leads. Chelsea fought back from two goals down in May to hand the trophy to Leicester while in this season’s reverse fixture, Christian Eriksen put Tottenham ahead before goals from Pedro and Victor Moses secured the turnaround.

There was never any real threat of a Chelsea comeback on Wednesday, however, and Dembele believes his side’s performance was evidence of their developing maturity together.

“I think we played very well last time against them as well but now when we scored, we didn’t panic, we kept on playing the ball and wanted to score the second one and that was very important,” Dembele said.

“That was the difference between now and then. Last time, and last year as well, we scored and then we changed our game, we tried to play different, we panicked more and today we were very adult. We were relaxed.

“In the past we always had positive feelings because we played well but we didn’t win. So I’m happy we changed something, maybe in our mentality and our thinking.

“It’s another year together, one year more with the manager as well, I think it’s very important.”

Tottenham still trail Chelsea by seven points in the race at the top but are now the form team in the division, their latest success meaning they have now won five games on the bounce.

Spurs are also six points better off than at the same stage last year, but the competition is fiercer this time around, with Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City also in the hunt.

Dembele says his team are ready to claim the top prize.

“I felt ready last season as well,” he said.

“We know it was a very important win for us, I think everybody is happy for that win because if not, it would be very difficult to catch them.

“Now it’s just game by game and with the quality we have we can do whatever we want. We proved last year we can do something.

“We have played very well in the last few games and with the confidence from today we can have a good run and then anything is possible.”

Defeat was Chelsea’s first since they were beaten by Arsenal on September 24 but the Blues remain in a commanding position at the top of the table.

“There is no reason to panic,” Chelsea defender David Luiz said.

“It is only January. In the Premier League, the only important thing is to be top of the table in May. I never saw anyone win the title in February or March.”

Luiz considers Spurs genuine title contenders.

“Do I see them as title rivals? Of course. I have seen them as title rivals since the start of the season,” Luiz added.

“They have Pochettino and he is an amazing coach. He is doing a great job. This is just the beginning of a long fight for the title, so everybody can arrive there.”

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