‘Lions Ready to Pounce’
Harry Kane warned Leicester City that Tottenham are ready to fight them all the way for the Premier League title after scoring twice in the 4 - 0 win at Stoke which moved Mauricio Pochettino’s team to within five points of the leaders.
Kane took his tally for the season to 24 league goals, with Dele Alli scoring the other two, as Tottenham responded emphatically to Leicester’s failure to win at home to West Ham on Sunday. England forward Kane had posted an image of lions preparing to pounce in the wake of Leicester dropping points and he insisted after the victory at Stoke that the picture was designed to prove Tottenham’s readiness to take advantage of any sign of weakness by Claudio Ranieri’s players.
“It was a few lions ready to pounce,” Kane said. “Obviously after watching the Leicester game, they dropped a couple of points and I was itching to play and I had to wait another day and a half to get out on the pitch.
"It was a bit of fun, but you never know. I just want to play. “We have got another couple of Monday night games and we always seem to be the last to play, but we are ready, we want to be out there and enjoying our football.
“But we are not going anywhere. We have got to keep doing what we are doing and we can’t do any more than that.
“We could have scored 6 or 7 and this was probably one of our best performances of the season. It was a clean sheet as well.”
Despite the risk of goading Leicester and then slipping up, Pochettino insisted he was happy for Kane to post the picture of lions ahead of the Stoke game.
“It is a good thing because it shows how is the group, how is our squad,” Pochettino said. “We can win or not, but the desire and passion we show and how we enjoy the game is fantastic.
“It is a pleasure to work with them. Every day I enjoy on the training ground.
“The players trust in themselves, the way they play. For that they can show this performance in a very difficult stadium against a very good team like Stoke. Today you can say it was a perfect performance.” With four games to play, Tottenham must bridge a five point gap to win the club’s first league title since 1961.
Pochettino insists that Spurs still have time to reel in Ranieri’s team, who face Swansea at the King Power Stadium in their next game on Sunday.
“We will see,” Pochettino said. “We need to believe that is possible.
“It is good for the competition that we are in behind to try and put pressure on Leicester. I feel very proud.
Our supporters were fantastic and they feel proud of us. I think it is an exciting moment for the club. “We need to follow the same way and we need to try. In football all can happen and we need to be there. If Leicester fail, we need to be there.
“I am very focused on our team but all can happen in football. The most important thing is the performance we showed today was perfect.
“It is a big signal. We are there waiting and fighting.” L e wi s H a mi lt o n wa s left scrounging for positives a mid t he shat tered re - mai n s o f h i s v i c t o r y hopes following a “horri fying” Chinese Grand Prix that c apped a t r yi ng weekend for t he reigning world champion. Hamilton had headed into the weekend aiming to kick-start his title defence and turn the tables on team-mate Nico Rosberg by racing to his maiden victory of the season. Instead what he came away with after a weekend marred by misfortune was a gaping 36-point deficit in the title standings to the German. “How would you expect me to feel?” Hamilton, who finished seventh despite having started dead-last asked journalists after the race in which Rosberg cruised to third straight win of the season and sixth in a row. “It’s been awkward but these things happen and these things are sent to try us.” The Briton’s weekend began to unravel before a wheel had even been turned, when his Mercedes team confirmed on Thursday that he would take a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. That meant the highest that Hamilton, on pole in Shanghai the last two years and the most successful driver at the track with four wins, could start Sunday’s race was from sixth.
Driving the fastest car in the field, he would still have a chance for victory. But his hopes were dealt a fatal blow in qualifying on Saturday when a lack of power from his Mercedes engine forced him back into the pits without setting a time.
With Rosberg on pole, it was going to be a race of damage limitation for him. Whatever slim hopes Hamilton may have had of getting on to the podium also evaporated early on in the race, after first-corner contact with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr dislodged his front wing which, wedged underneath his Mercedes, damaged its f loor costing him vital performance.
Nevertheless, he took this latest setback in his stride just as he had all others that weekend. “There were some good experiences, at one point where I went around someone on the outside through turn seven and then through the outside of someone at turn eight,” Hamilton said.
“I love doing that stuff, you know ... so there were some proud moments for sure today.”
Indeed, Hamilton’s unwavering poise in the face of adversity has surprised many observers this weekend. He hasn’t always handled setbacks well in the past, particularly in 2014 when he struggled against a similar run of bad luck. However, back then Hamilton found himself in a position to challenge for the championship for the first time since he claimed his maiden title triumph in 2008. In the six years since he had been forced to watch from the sidelines unable to take the fight to Sebastian Vettel who romped to fourstraight titles in his Adrian Neweydesigned Red Bull.
With a 4-0 win over Stoke, Spurs’ Harry Kane has sent out a strong message to Leicester. Tottenham trail toppers Foxes by five points with four games to go
MAURICIO POCHETTINO COACH, TOTTENHAM
HARRYKANE TOTTENHAM FORWARD
Finally in the most dominant car in the field, the frustrations mounted as his challenge was repeatedly blunted by reliability woes. But, winning his third world title last year and second in a row, seems to have given Hamilton t he abi lit y to t a ke face adversit y with equanimity. The statistics may not favour him – no driver in the past who has won the opening three races in a season or six in a row has gone on to lose the title. But where at times in the past Hamilton has been his own worst enemy, he is now in a place where as he puts it, “very little if anything can get to him.” That makes him a formidable force with 18 races still to go in a record 21race season. And Rosberg knows it. The championship has been won by drivers who have claimed victory in the opening three races nine times in the past. But as the German said after Sunday’s race, “They didn’t have Lewis Hamilton as a team-mate, those other nine."
Dele Alli scored two out of four Hotspur's goals against Stoke
England and Tottenham forward Harry Kane posted the picture of the lions (C) for Leicester City