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EXCLUSIVE Mourinho's men must strike when the iron is hot and challenge Liverpool all the way this season

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho (right)  following the Premier League match at Anfield

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho (right) following the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min with manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min with manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho (right) following the Premier League match at Anfield

Some clubs, like Tottenham and Chelsea, don’t like to be seen as title favourites in the public eye because of the pressure that brings to bear on them.

But someone is going to challenge Liverpool for that title this season and, given the start Spurs have had, and the form of other clubs, they have to be seen as live contenders.

Chelsea should challenge, because of the money they’ve spent, but I doubt they will, I don’t know if they are ready. But Spurs are now ready to really put it up to Liverpool.

They have a settled squad, the players seem to have a good bond with each other, and Jose Mourinho has the experience. So many of the pieces are there, but it’s up to them to put that all together.

The frustration for Spurs fans is that they have been seen as potential challengers for the last five or six years and never managed it, and this season the expectation has gone up a bit. They have challenged for the league before and not made that final push but they have to see this season as an opportunity. Chelsea, the same, if they can get their act together.

With Liverpool having so many injuries and the form that Manchester City are in, this is a real opportunity for a club like Spurs. If they are ever to win the league, this is the season to really go for it.

The club’s attitude can’t always be ‘we’re not quite ready, we’ll be better-placed next year’. Football doesn’t wait for anyone, at the end of the season City could go out and spend big, Liverpool could really strengthen before next season starts, so if Spurs have any ambition, they should go for it now.

Their season will be judged on how they do against the teams from the bottom half of the table. They have had great results against Manchester City and United, they’ve drawn at Chelsea, so they will do okay in those fixtures. But it’s how they cope in the games they’re expected to win. It’s the games against Burnley and West Ham which will win or lose the league.

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Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at Anfield

They were unlucky at Anfield in midweek. they had played well and looked like a team capable of matching Liverpool, though Tottenham’s big issue is how much they will miss Harry Kane or Son Heung-min if they are out for any period of time.

I’m not a fan of Mourinho’s style, I would not like to watch Spurs every week as my team, but I do appreciate the effectiveness. It worked against Chelsea, it worked against Arsenal and Manchester United, it very nearly worked against Liverpool on Wednesday night, so you have to acknowledge that.

You can’t just play football the way everyone would like it to be played. You can’t have that free-flowing style every week, so I do appreciate the workrate that Spurs have, it’s effective and it works for them.

Someone like Spurs can go and play a lesser team and put them away, but they need a tactic to beat a top-six side. They had that tactic against Liverpool and it nearly came off. I know they didn’t get the points but they will win points in games like that, though they do need to open up more against teams from the bottom half.

Manchester City are seven points behind Spurs and they have a lot of work to do to catch up. They are lacking the sharpness and intensity that you usually see in City’s play.

That great City side, the one that won the league with over 100 points, was a team which went on the attack using the full width of the pitch. They rotated players all across the pitch, had players who could easily swap positions. Now it all seems rigid at City, they have two wingers coming inside all the time but that blocks up space in the central areas and it’s not as free-flowing as you’d expect from that side. They’ve become more pragmatic and more predictable, and you see now how they are missing David Silva.

City have their struggles but I’d worry more about Arsenal right now. When Mikel Arteta came in first they did seem to pick up, the club seemed to believe in what Arteta was doing. They won the FA Cup and looked like they were on the right path.

But the big question then was ‘what’s next?’ and they had no answer to that. I don’t think that squad has bought into what Arteta wants, they haven’t grasped what his plan is and are waiting for something to happen. They walked through their Europa League group but the Premier League is a different level and they are finding it hard.

I feel that people like Aubameyang are playing for themselves, not for the team. They’re playing like a team of individuals in a very rigid system that’s not working for them. They don’t have enough good players, and the good players they do have have not bought into Arteta.

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Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min with manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min with manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min with manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield

At least Arteta didn’t lose his job this week, unlike Slaven Bilic, which opened the door for Sam Allardyce to come back to the Premier League. It looks like a backward step, to some, but to be fair to Allardyce he has always kept his teams up, it’s not guaranteed success but it’s pretty close.

Other teams will find West Brom difficult to play against, so it could work for them and for Allardyce – maybe it’ll lead to everyone going back to 4-4-2.

And I think it could be good news for Dara O’Shea. Allardyce doesn’t have a reputation as a forward-thinking coach, but he understands players and can simplify a player’s role.

I watched O’Shea against City and I was very impressed. He was brilliant and someone like Allardyce could be good for him by simplifying his role. O’Shea already has the confidence of being picked in the Premier League, and he could come on even more under Big Sam.

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