Tottenham’s claim to be genuine contenders for the Premier League title was reinforced by a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth on Wednesday that saw them climb above champions Manchester City and into second place.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side did not put in a particularly scintillating display as speculation continues to swirl around the Argentinian and the Manchester United job that becomes vacant at the end of the season.
But it was more than enough to swat aside opponents who last beat them back in 1957 and keep a squad that also has an eye on Champions League glory believing that anything is possible.
Christian Eriksen’s opening goal required a hefty deflection but Bournemouth crumbled as Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura added to the tally before the break, and Harry Kane and Son bolstered the scoreline further afterwards.
The win was also followed Sunday’s 6-2 demolition of Everton — 11 goals scored and just two conceded is any side’s vision of a Merry Christmas.
Pochettino made four changes from the Everton game, which saw Dele Alli hurt by a challenge from England team-mate Jordan Pickford.
In came Moura to replace him but the majority of the tinkering was at the back, with Kyle Walker-Peters, Juan Foyth and Danny Rose drafted in alongside Toby Alderweireld.
Bournemouth beat Brighton 2-0 on Saturday for only their second win since October but quickly knew this would not be their day, although the first chances were theirs.
Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser got in each other’s way for the first and David Brooks could not get quite enough elevation on his attempt to beat Hugo Lloris with a chip after Jefferson Lerma had played him in.
– Spurs’ stroke of luck –
Tottenham looked lethargic until a sizable slice of luck put them ahead in the 16th minute.
Eriksen, set up by Walker-Peters, fired a speculative shot from distance that Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic had covered until it took a deflection off Lerma’s leg.
Goal number two arrived in the 23rd minute thanks to Walker-Peters dispossessing Charlie Daniels in the Bournemouth box to set Son up for a well-taken finish.
Rookie right-back Walker-Peters completed a hat-trick of assists 10 minutes before half-time by setting Lucas up to sweep first time beyond Begovic.
There was still time for more Bournemouth misfortune before the break however as Simon Francis, utterly bamboozled by a dragback and flick from Son, had to be stretchered off and the half ended with Daniels seeing his goalbound header clawed off the line by Lloris on his 32nd birthday.
Bournemouth’s woes continued in the second period with no penalty awarded when Foyth bundled Callum Wilson over, and a raised flag ruling out Stanislas’ smart finish after Diego Rico, on for the stricken Francis, had picked him out in front of goal.
Kane had been quiet apart from the occasional deft touch but fired a free-kick straight at Begovic before netting number four just after the hour mark.
Eriksen was the provider on this occasion as the Dane spotted Kane’s run and the England captain did the rest with a left-footed volley on the turn that was worthy of a better contest than this one.
Kane created Tottenham’s fifth in odd fashion 20 minutes from time by getting the better of Nathan Ake in the box, falling over but still setting up Danny Rose, who also tumbled to the ground, and then getting up to set up Lucas for a shot that Begovic could only parry for Son to slot home.
Bournemouth continued attacking until the end but no consolation came their way.