Pochettino: Spurs are title contenders

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham are real Premier League title contenders but admits that Chelsea need to slip up if they are to catch the run-away leaders.

Spurs were able to reduce the gap with Antonio Conte's charges to nine points with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on a Saturday when Arsenal and Liverpool both lost – the Gunners 3-1 to Chelsea, and the Reds 2-0 to a rapidly-improving Hull City.

It needed a second-half Harry Kane penalty for Spurs to claim the narrow win but Pochettino say's he remains optimistic they can achieve their aims this season.

After the match, he said: "Nine points is okay, it's three games, but it's up to Chelsea now.

"It's up to us to keep pushing, to keep the pressure and to win games. That's important for us and the Premier League too.

"We are second in the table. Okay, it's good to put the standard higher. I am happy with that, to put the pressure on us.

He added: "Yes, we are a real contender and we are a team ready to win a title. At that level it's good pressure."

Despite struggling to breakdown a resolute Boro, Spurs were deserved winners on the day.

Pochettino further explained: "I'm always optimistic.

"When you leave the game open at 1-0, always something can happen and you can concede. It's true that in the last few minutes we were a little bit on the touchline and the pitch too.

"But I think we played much better and in the end deserved the three points. If they had scored, because it's football okay, maybe we dropped two points, but we deserved the three points. You can say nothing about that."