Tottenham show their steel in north London derby

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Tottenham Hotspur have long been the underachievers of the Premier League.

Every team, every year, every manager. It's the 'New Spurs', it's their time to conquer London and England.

But, alas, the golden chalice of Champions League football continues to elude them, having only sipped from it briefly in 2010/11 when led by the mercurial Gareth Bale and 'fleet-footed' Peter Crouch.


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However, this season feels different - a statement probably written an infinite number of times when describing the beginnings of a Spurs season. Under Mauricio Pochettino the team looks more organised and confident, a team that actually plays as a collective 11 rather than individuals.

This was evident in the derby against Arsenal last weekend. Away at the Emirates, Spurs dominated the Gunners for 70 minutes by restricting their passing game with high pressure and good possession of their own, making them look like the home side.

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This prompted Gary Neville - commentating at the time - to remark after an hour: "I can't believe what I'm seeing." Arsenal, normally so strong at home in possession, were reduced to their worst pass completion record of the season with 75%, whilst Santi Cazorla had one his toughest 90 minutes as Eric Lamela and company pressed high in the final third.

Having come away with a draw - a result they'll be disappointed with -Tottenham have now gone 11 games unbeaten in the league and are only five points off top spot.

After convincingly dispatching Manchester City 4-1 earlier this season and a performance away at Old Trafford which saw them unfortunate to emerge without reward, this Spurs side look like one which can hold their own against the top clubs in the league - something their teams of the past have been incapable of.

The statistics certainly show this as they rank in the top four in the league for Squawka's overall performance stats.

Pochettino has invested his time and trust into younger players, such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane, the former making the most tackles of a teenager in the league this season with 23.

The manager has also done a fantastic job of bringing the best out of talents such as Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela who with three assists so far, is their top provider.

A question mark still hovers over Spurs despite their form. Their winning mentality is always an issue as they never seem capable of killing teams off like the other big clubs can.

They are also liable to sustained dips in form post-Christmas and with Europa League football on Thursday nights, it will certainly test their squad depth.

They are a club who feel they deserve more but seem to lack that dominating aura that strikes fear into opponents. As Sir Alex Ferguson simply put in his half-time team talk as United were 3-0 down in 2001, "Lads, it's Tottenham," the Red Devils went on to win 5-3.

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