Antonio Conte praised Tottenham for recovering from a miserable week with an important win over Nottingham Forest and reiterated that another top-four result would equate to a Premier League title for the club.
Harry Kane’s brace in the first half was followed by Son Heung-min’s clever finish early in the second to secure a 3-1 home win that put Spurs six points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool.
It was Tottenham’s first win in four games and increased the pressure on Conte following recent FA Cup and Champions League eliminations
“There are 11 games left and we had to recover today to show we’re mentally strong and in that kind of situation morale can be really low but instead I see the right spirit, the right fight and the right desire to get the three points,” said Conte.
“Surely I repeat that if we finish in the top four it would be for us to win the Premier League. It happened last season and I was talking about miracles.
“I go on to say maybe this season it will be a lot harder, a lot harder because Liverpool are a competitor in this race. Newcastle is a competitor, but Newcastle is a different Newcastle than it has been in the past. You invest a lot of money and have a strong team.
“You see Chelsea and what’s happening and their position but I don’t see Chelsea as an underdog because Chelsea have the potential to win the last 11 or 12 games in a row because the squad is really, really strong.
“We have to think of ourselves. Before during an interview they ask me about Liverpool and today Liverpool lost but we have to think about ourselves. A top club looks at itself, not to look and see other results.”
Kane stole the show in the first half but all eyes were initially on Richarlison after he was in the starting XI despite his explosive post-match interview following Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with AC Milan.
Richarlison had a goal disallowed for offside after three minutes but was involved in Kane’s opening goal, a perfectly executed header into the corner of Pedro Porro’s cross, winning the penalty for Tottenham’s reserve captain.
It was Kane’s first penalty since his World Cup miss against France, but he put it in the net to score 20 Premier League goals this season.
Conte added: “No, never (no doubts) but he can take the penalty even if he’s blind.
“We’re talking about a player who is a world-class striker and is really important, but for me it’s really difficult to think and answer that question.
“We’re talking about unique achievements, you know? Instead, let’s talk about team performance.
“That’s the problem, because a unique achievement is good for the players, but at the same time it would be better to talk about winning together and celebrating a trophy together and then a unique achievement as well.
“Harry was a good example but not for the goal he scored. For his dedication and will.
“Today I saw the fire in my players’ eyes.”
This latest away loss for Forest was compounded by Brennan Johnson and Chris Wood both being injured while substitute goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was out in warm-up.
“Wayne felt his knee and couldn’t get on the bench,” explained Steve Cooper.
“Brennan walked away with a groin strain that we don’t know how bad it is. I’ll see you the next day or two.
“And Woody keeps going and in the first moment of the game he takes a nasty punch.”