Mauricio Pochettino has welcomed talk of Tottenham as title contenders this season as he believes it pays tribute to his team’s performances.
Unbeaten since the opening day of the campaign, Spurs are fifth in the table and only four points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Pochettino’s side have already played every team in the top six and their fixtures in December look kind, with West Brom, Newcastle, Southampton, Norwich and Watford to come before the end of the year.
Tottenham’s priority is to secure Champions League football next season but as the more established challengers continue to stumble, there may be an opportunity to aim even higher.
“If the people believe we are contenders I am happy because (it means) we have shown enough quality for that,” Pochettino said.
“Agree or not agree we want to win the next game and take the three points.
“I always believe in my squad and my players. I believe we can win.”
The last time Spurs were considered contenders for the league title was 2011-12 when, under Harry Redknapp, the team found themselves just two points off the top in January.
Redknapp wanted reinforcements in the transfer window but only Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen arrived and Spurs collapsed, finishing fourth and missing out on the Champions League after Chelsea’s European triumph.
Tottenham are likely to look for a striker next month to provide cover for Harry Kane but Pochettino believes it will be difficult to find the quality to strengthen the team.
“We are in a moment where it is not easy to improve the squad, it is a very difficult job,” Pochettino said.
“We are very happy with our squad. It is true always we can improve but we need to be clever, to analyse, and try to find the right player to add in the next transfer window or the summer.
“When the level increases it is always difficult to find the right player to add and not break the balance.
“Today we have a very good balance on and off the pitch. This is a very good thing for us.”
On Saturday Tottenham visit West Brom, who demonstrated their threat by beating Arsenal 2-1 at home two weeks ago.
“We will expect a very tough game. They are a very strong team, have a great manager. I have a great relationship with Tony,” Pochettino said.
“We have to run a lot, play well with and without the ball to make a big effort to win the game.”