Jan Vertonghen says Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday night was “up there” with any result he has experienced during his four-and-a-half years in north London and one that has sent a powerful message to the other clubs in the top six.
The derby at White Hart Lane was the definition of a six-pointer for Tottenham and they knew that they could not afford to lose. Had they done so, they would have slipped 13 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, and their title hopes would surely have ended. As it is, they are now seven points adrift of them in third place, on a run of five consecutive wins and with their confidence soaring.
“The win is up there,” Vertonghen said. ‘We are building a reputation at the Lane and it feels good to beat the big teams. It’s a good sign that we are progressing well.
“Maybe everyone thought at the start of the season it would be close with the other teams but you see a proper top six now. It means you have to win against your rivals, especially at home, and we’ve done that twice now, beating Manchester City as well. It’s a good feeling and we’re getting stronger and stronger.
“It’s a message to our rivals in a good way – we played very well and didn’t give chances away. We sent a message last year as well, when we were challenging for the title, and hopefully we can do it again now. Teams look at us in a different way in the last two years.”
Vertonghen believes Tottenham have a stronger squad than they did last season, when they challenged seriously for their first title since 1961. Victor Wanyama, the defensive midfielder signed from Southampton, has made a difference in particular.
“I think we are stronger,” Vertonghen said. “You see who came in, what they are doing for us, how strong our squad is, how strong our bench is. It’s unbelievable. Everyone is happy to play for Tottenham.
“It’s going to be very close. I think everyone in the top six will have a chance of winning it and it’s good. We have won five on the bounce now, we are doing it now and hopefully we can climb a couple more places.”
Vertonghen said he shared the excitement of the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and his team-mates about the new 61,000-capacity stadium that is being built adjacent to White Hart Lane. The club announced on Wednesday that they had launched a website that is dedicated to the project and which features interactive views of it. “I believe we will recreate the atmosphere of White Hart Lane,” said the Belgian. “Maybe it’s going to feel a bit different at the start but I saw the new video of the stadium and I bet we’re going to do well there as well.”