Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard disagreed with Jose Mourinho's assessment that Tottenham were "just a pony" in the Premier League title race.

Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table following Sunday's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

But Mourinho was keen to play down his team's title chances after they collected a 13th point in five Premier League away games to begin the season – their most since 1991-92.

"We are not even in the race so we are not a horse. We are the small, young horse – a pony. We are just a pony, and you see the difference," he told reporters. 

"Joe Rodon was playing for Swansea. Thiago Silva was for many years and still is one of the best centre-backs in the world. And maybe one month of Thiago's salary pays Joe a year's salary. So, calm.

"I'm very happy with Joe, very happy with the profile, and to be with my amazing coaching staff – Joao [Sacramento], Ledley [King], all these guys – coaching and teaching these guys, and working with Joe has been a pleasure.

"I just feel sorry he can't play in the Europa League because it would be a great level of experience for him, and I believe the biggest game he played before this one was Championship play-offs and a Wales national team match, so I'm very pleased that he could come here and for 90 minutes he made one mistake.

"[Eric] Dier made more mistakes than him, especially in ball possession, so I'm very happy with my team, very happy with my guys, very happy with this mentality – that we come to Stamford Bridge, we get a point, we are top of the league, and we are not happy."

Mourinho used a similar analogy in early 2014 while in charge of Chelsea, and his side finished behind Manchester City and Liverpool in that season.

Lampard, whose Chelsea are on their longest unbeaten run (14 games) since November 2018 and sit third in the table, disagreed with Mourinho and said Spurs had to be considered among the contenders.

"It's Jose's call to say it how he sees it from his end but from the outside they're the top of the league, he's very close to the top. If we're contenders then they have to be contenders," he said.

"I think if you've got Harry Kane and Son [Heung-min] in your team, Son's got nine goals, Harry's got seven.

"They keep clean sheets well because of the organisation of their team. They would expect to be in the race. They've invested heavily, they've got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench. Dele Alli's not here, there's a strong squad there.

"I think we're all competing. Jose can say it as he sees it."

Jose Mourinho revealed Tottenham's players were left disappointed by the draw with Chelsea, with the Spurs boss lauding a "complete change of mentality".

Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table – on goal difference – thanks to a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Mourinho arrested a two-match losing streak in the top-flight to his former star player Frank Lampard.

Tottenham, who were 2-0 winners over Manchester City last time out, managed only five attempts, with just one of those on target, which came from Serge Aurier in the 15th minute.

Chelsea, on the other hand, had 13 goal attempts, with Hugo Lloris called into action three times – twice late on to deny both Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud, who latched onto a Joe Rodon error in stoppage time.

Mourinho believes the draw was a fair result but insisted his team were not happy, a reaction he believes shows the development of the players.

"The one thing that I take from the game, that a draw here normally is a positive result," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"To go top of the league with that result is also a positive thing, and my dressing room is not happy – that's the best thing I take from the game.

"We are not happy, and that for me is fantastic. It is a complete change of mentality, a complete change of personality.

"You can tell us we didn't have many chances, and I agree, but how many did they have? That's the thing that makes me really happy – we are not happy with a draw at Stamford Bridge."

It was the first time Chelsea and Spurs – who are on eight and nine-game unbeaten runs respectively – have played out a goalless draw in the Premier League since November 2015, and the first time in a top-flight game at Stamford Bridge since March 2012.

"It was a game without many chances. I believe it is a game where they wanted to win like we did, but we respected them and they also respected us, and nobody gambled, nobody tried to change the direction of the game," said Mourinho.

"Everybody was in the situation of 'one mistake, I punish you, I win', especially in the last 15, 20 minutes. They had one shot from long distance, we had in the first half more than in the second half. A big game, a difficult game to play for both."

Tammy Abraham squandered three presentable chances for Chelsea in the second half, with Lampard stating the only thing missing from his side's display was cutting edge in the final third, with the Blues boss delighted by the hosts' defensive resilience.

"It went how I sort of expected. I expected us to have a lot of possession and we did," said Lampard, whose side restricted Harry Kane and Son Heung-min brilliantly.

At least one of Spurs' two chief destroyers had scored in every league game since they missed out in a draw with Newcastle United in September.

"I thought we created enough chances to win the game, so we had good control," Lampard added.

"The clean sheet factor against a team that we've seen are set up to play on the counter-attack, I thought that part of our game was excellent, to deal with the threat of Kane and Son in particularly, didn't really give them a sniff, but didn't quite take our chances."

Chelsea and Tottenham failed to fully capitalise on Liverpool's slip-up as Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho oversaw a tightly contested 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

With Liverpool pegged back by Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, Spurs could have moved two points clear of the Reds at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea – playing the 1,000th game of the Roman Abramovich era – were also vying for pole position.

Yet despite a bright start in Sunday's London derby, with Timo Werner having a goal disallowed, neither side could make the breakthrough in what was an encounter short of clear chances.

Looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since September 2019, Tammy Abraham missed three presentable opportunities as Chelsea had the better of the second half, with Olivier Giroud also fluffing his lines late on as the points were shared.

Hakim Ziyech sent a half-volley into Hugo Lloris' gloves in the opening minutes, but Spurs showed their threat on the counter when Harry Kane slipped in Steven Bergwijn, who drilled over.

Chelsea mounted a swift break of their own two minutes later – Werner finishing in stunning fashion off the right-hand upright – but the offside flag spared Spurs.

Edouard Mendy then made a fine save from Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier, though that strike was the second of just two attempts on target in what became a cagey first half.

Chelsea got behind Spurs' line in the 48th minute, with Reece James aiming a brilliant cross towards Abraham, who failed to make solid contact with his header.

Abraham missed a near-identical chance moments later, before he failed to tuck in from Werner's pinpoint delivery.

Mason Mount saw a long-range strike kept out with nine minutes to go, though Abraham's replacement Giroud had the best chance of the closing stages, only to lob a tame effort straight to French compatriot Lloris.

Jose Mourinho has many happy memories at Stamford Bridge, but very few of them have come from the visiting dugout.

The Tottenham coach takes his side to Chelsea on Sunday looking to preserve top spot in the Premier League against hosts who can themselves reach the summit with a win.

For Mourinho, it is also a return to his first club in English football.

The Portuguese won consecutive league titles with Chelsea following his arrival in 2004 and added a third after returning to the Blues in 2013.

However, since leaving the Bridge for the first time in 2007, Mourinho has won away at Chelsea only once.

That success came on his first trip back in 2010 when the idea of Mourinho ever enduring misery in SW6 seemed quite improbable.

Mourinho's Inter won 1-0 courtesy of Samuel Eto'o's goal to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals. The Nerazzurri had triumphed over Carlo Ancelotti's men in the home leg, too, and would claim the treble.

Yet those were Mourinho's only back-to-back victories against Chelsea and there have been just two subsequent wins in 10 attempts in all competitions - both in the Premier League at Old Trafford as Manchester United manager. Antonio Conte oversaw each reverse.

A third success did follow in September of this year but only courtesy of a penalty shoot-out as Chelsea were knocked out of the EFL Cup.

That was a third meeting with Frank Lampard, a star midfielder in Mourinho's first spell, and the master is yet to get the better of his apprentice outside of spot-kicks.

Indeed, Lampard did the double over Mourinho in the league last season.

Were the former England international to secure another victory this weekend, he would become the first Premier League coach to win three in a row against Mourinho in the competition. Chelsea would also become the first club to enjoy a trio of consecutive successes.

The Blues should not be lacking motivation this week, but the potential to make history against their former boss adds just a little more spice.


Mourinho's full record against Chelsea (Premier League unless stated):

Inter 2-1 Chelsea (Champions League) - 2010
Chelsea 0-1 Inter (Champions League) - 2010

Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United - 2016
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (FA Cup) - 2017
Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea - 2017
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United - 2017
Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea - 2018
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (FA Cup final) - 2018
Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United - 2018
Tottenham 0-2 Chelsea - 2019
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham - 2020
Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea (EFL Cup, 5-4 pens) - 2020

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho suggested Frank Lampard was under pressure after Chelsea's big spending in the close season.

Mourinho's Spurs are top of the Premier League as they prepare for Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge for a London derby.

After signing the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy, Chelsea are third in the table.

Those recruits reportedly cost Chelsea around £222million in a major investment for Lampard's second season at the helm.

Mourinho, who had two spells as Chelsea boss and coached Lampard, said the spending also brought pressure.

"When you are favourites, you know why you are favourites," he told reporters.

"And you have to accept that and you have to deal with that kind of pressure and responsibility. I was at clubs which were, let's say, champions in the market because of their powerful investments. I had to deal with that pressure.

"So now it's not for me to deal with that pressure. It's for others to deal with that pressure. That's not for us."

Spurs, too, have strengthened since last year, although some of their spending came before Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino 12 months ago.

The likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Steven Bergwijn, Ryan Sessegnon, Sergio Reguilon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty have arrived at Tottenham since mid-2019.

Lampard said there was no doubt every manager was under some sort of pressure.

"We all have relative pressures as managers, not just myself and Jose. He was here as manager so he understands it very well," he said.

"If you look at the spending over the last couple of seasons, what Tottenham made the summer I came to Chelsea and what they've done in this break compared to us, you'll see that it's been very similar output but the only thing that will get you success is hard work.

"The pressures at Tottenham will be big because Jose has built a fantastic squad and has incredible players so we're both in the same position – we want success, people have expectations on us and we work towards that."

Frank Lampard is philosophical about the evolution of his relationship with his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and insists the pair remain "cordial".

Once upon a time, Lampard was the lynchpin of Mourinho's Blues side that won two Premier League titles, as many EFL Cups and an FA Cup during the Portuguese's first stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.

In the here and now, Lampard is in the Chelsea dugout while Mourinho is in charge of Premier League leaders Tottenham, with the London rivals set to square off on Sunday with just two points and two places separating the teams.

From the outside there has been a certain frostiness between the two parties, including a tense touchline exchange as Spurs defeated Chelsea on penalties in an EFL Cup tie back in September.

There was also an apparent dig made by Mourinho after a 2-0 loss to Lampard's side in the Premier League last December, when making reference to the "Conte system" employed by his opposite number.

Lampard was keen to stress his respect for Mourinho, though, and explained changes in dynamics are part and parcel of football.

"I don't know, I wouldn't say it's changed it that much, when I left Chelsea in 2014 I think it is, I moved on and my life went in different directions," Lampard said. 

"Generally when you go in different directions you're so consumed and busy in your lives your relationship changes, so it changed and we were always very cordial.

"If I see Jose, if I talk about him, sending messages between each other, we've always had a good relationship on that front. 

"I think just naturally now when we are doing the cut-throat of being managers of these clubs that are rivals it does change the relationship – not in a bad way we've got no problem with it or I certainly haven't. 

"We're very competitive people, we always want to do well. When I speak about Jose I always show how much respect I have for him in all senses, I've always had that back from him and that's where it is."

The game against Tottenham will be Chelsea's 1,000th since Roman Abramovich's takeover of the club 17 years ago.

Lampard has experienced much of that period as a player and a manager and it was put to the Chelsea boss there may be a feeling among the club's rivals that the Blues' success in the time since has been bought.

The former England midfielder replied: "That might have been a reaction in early years because we made a difference and invested to a level probably in that short period when we first came, and Jose Mourinho's first years, we invested and moved up the table because we added quality to the squad. 

"I think if you look at top end of Premier League now and how the Premier League has developed, you can look at our spending in the last couple of seasons you can absolutely compare it with Tottenham and Arsenal in terms of players coming in and out of the clubs. 

"Then you can also look at Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City and what they've done and I think I've reeled off five or six clubs at least that are spending a lot of money. 

"Teams that get promoted into the Premier League now spend around £100million so I think it's an argument that's changed in time. 

"But as much as you can invest in football you only win things through pure hard work and personnel on the ground."

Frank Lampard never expected to avoid the mind games of his former manager Jose Mourinho as their respective high-flying Chelsea and Tottenham sides prepare to meet on Sunday.

Blues legend Lampard was an integral cog in Mourinho's Chelsea machine during the Portuguese's first stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Playing under the Portuguese, Lampard won the Premier League and EFL Cup twice and the FA Cup once.

However, the duo had a well-publicised touchline exchange during Spurs' EFL Cup penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea back in September, while Mourinho seemed to aim a dig at Lampard when suggesting he had used a system akin to that of ex-Blues boss Antonio Conte following a 2-0 defeat of Tottenham last December.

Asked if he thought he would be spared Mourinho's usual penchant for mind games, Lampard told a news conference: "No, I'm not surprised by anything in management because we all have similar jobs to do and we all have to sit in press conferences and we all have our personalities. 

"I have respect for Jose as a manager; I didn't take any offence to the Antonio Conte system [remarks] or whatever – I played it a lot differently to Conte. 

"I have a lot of respect for Jose, it's not contentious for me."

Tottenham make the short trip to Stamford Bridge as Premier League leaders following an impressive 2-0 win over Manchester City last time out, but Chelsea are just two points back in third.

After beating City, Mourinho said his side were not title contenders and Lampard understands the point his opposite number on Sunday was trying to convey.

"I understand Jose's answers. That's the position we should be in, the marker has been set by Manchester City and Liverpool in the last two or three seasons," Lampard added.

"It's early on in terms of games, we shouldn't get carried away. There's such a long way to go, I understand his position.

"I think Chelsea-Tottenham is extra special anyway because of the rivalry with the teams. I played in the fixture many times.

"The fact we're in good form near the top of table adds spice - we all want to be fighting for those positions."

Some pundits were questioning whether Mourinho was still able to coach at an elite level after being sacked by Manchester United in December 2018 and enduring mixed fortunes at Spurs when replacing Mauricio Pochettino last term.

Lampard believes Mourinho was merely subject to the "reactionary" period football finds itself in.

"You don't have a record as decorated as Jose Mourinho as a manager without being a talented coach," he said. 

"For us all, the game is so reactionary at the moment, form is always judged very harshly for any manager."

It was reported this week that Chelsea were in discussions already over an extended stay for veteran centre-back Thiago Silva, who has impressed since joining on a free transfer upon the expiry of his contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

Lampard said of the situation: "Yeah, I've seen reports; there's an option in Thiago's contract. The way he's playing we're very happy, that's the end of it. I'm surprised it's come out that way."

Chelsea are set to be boosted by the return of Christian Pulisic against Tottenham, but Lampard is unsure whether the winger can start following his recent hamstring issue.

"Yeah, he's fit. Ready to start is a question mark," he said. "It's hard to gauge match fitness, training in times as they are with COVID, it's hard to recreate game situations. 

"Players are playing every two or three days. It's harder to get them ready for games."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Spain, just like he wants Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the league.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Tebas was asked about Messi's future, and he played down the impact of the Argentina skipper's possible exit.

"I want Messi in LaLiga, just as I want [Tottenham head coach] Mourinho, [City manager] Guardiola, [Liverpool boss] Klopp, [Juventus superstar] Cristiano…," Tebas said at the World Football Summit. "They all help you grow.

"It's not essential. They're not as important as people say. Neymar left. It's necessary to have a strategy, a player can help you, but it's not essential.

"We've got the deals done for the next four seasons in nearly all territories. It can affect sponsorships somewhat, but we've really worked hard on the league's brand and we wouldn't notice it.

"I hope that Messi, who's the best player ever, finished his career here."

Messi has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, where he emerged from Barca's youth team in 2004.

Since debuting, Messi has become Barca's all-time leading scorer and won a club-record 34 trophies, including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

In 2020-21, Messi has scored three goals in eight LaLiga matches for 13th-placed Barca, who are 12 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

Messi has six goals across all competitions as Ronald Koeman's Barca struggle this season.

Jose Mourinho said Diego Maradona would always call him after big defeats as a manager, the Tottenham boss remembering the Argentina and Napoli great after his death.

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata head coach Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Thousands gathered to farewell the football legend in Buenos Aires on Thursday during three days of national mourning in his homeland, where Maradona's coffin was draped in the Argentina flag at Casa Rosada – the presidential mansion.

Former Real Madrid, Inter, Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho paid tribute to World Cup winner and friend Maradona following Tottenham's 4-0 rout of Ludogorets in the Europa League on Thursday.

"Maradona and Diego, Maradona the world knows and the world never forgets," Mourinho told reporters during his post-match news conference.

"I made sure that my son knows a lot about him, even being born after Diego Maradona as a player and I know my son will make sure that one day when he is a father he will not let his kids forget. It was similar with my Dad and Di Stefano.

"I never saw Di Stefano play football, my Dad made sure I knew about Di Stefano because with this generation, we have players from my generation and Diego in my generation was what everybody knows.

"Then there is Diego the guy and that one I miss. I feel sorry that I didn't spend more time with him, I would love. His family, his big friends and colleagues are very privileged to spend and know Diego well.

"I know him well enough and in my big defeats, he would always call me. In my victories, never but I will miss Diego. Of course I am very sad but I have a smile because with every minute I spent with him, it was to laugh."

Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

The captain and inspiration behind Argentina's World Cup success in 1986 before going on to coach his country at the 2010 showpiece, Maradona had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

He appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors before joining Boca Juniors and went on to play for Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys before returning to Boca in 1995.

Maradona had the best years of his club career in Italy, playing a massive part in Napoli winning the Serie A title in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons.

Playmaker Maradona also lifted the UEFA Cup with Napoli in 1989 and he won three trophies during his time at Barca – including the Copa del Rey in 1983.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed by Gimnasia last year.

Jose Mourinho claimed Carlos Vinicius must learn to throw his weight around to make an impact with Tottenham in the Premier League after impressing in the Europa League.

Vinicius scored twice in Tottenham's 4-0 rout of Ludogorets in Europa League Group J on Thursday to leave Spurs within a point of reaching the knockout phase.

The brace was Vinicius' first goals for Tottenham since he joined the London club on a season-long loan deal from Portuguese giants Benfica in October.

Vinicius has contributed to five goals (two goals and three assists) in four Europa League appearances for Spurs this term.

Speaking at a post-match media conference head coach Mourinho, however, told Vinicius he must learn to handle the Premier League's physicality become a success in England.

"He is not playing a lot, especially in Premier League, but he helped us to win the game at West Bromwich Albion and in Europa League he is doing okay and adapting," said Mourinho.

"It was good that he scored important goals. Then in the second half he assists Lucas Moura for his goal.

"He is a big boy, a strong boy and needs to be more physical in the Premier League, but I am happy.

"It is good for the team to have that because for example last season, if Harry Kane needed a rest - we couldn't and because Vinicius is here, the squad is much more balanced."

Vinicius' second goal owed much to a piece of selfless play by Dele Alli, who has been on the fringes of Tottenham's impressive run this season.

But the attacking midfielder's attitude in the win against the Bulgarian visitors impressed Mourinho.

"The second one is 75 per cent Dele Alli's goal," added Mourinho. "That's the team. He could try to score but for Vinicius it was an easy goal. A team player does that. No risk and 2-0. Doesn't surprise me that he did that."

Tottenham have won five consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since November 2018, under Mauricio Pochettino (a run of six), whilst they have kept three consecutive clean sheets for the first time since April 2019.

Spurs head to Mourinho's former club Chelsea on Sunday, but he claimed a trip to Stamford Bridge will be about the three points and not the sentimentality of the occasion.

He told BT Sport: "Every game is every game, in the Premier League I don't make any difference because every game you can gain points or lose points. We don't look to the table we look to matches."

Harry Winks acknowledged his long-range wonder goal in Tottenham's Europa League victory over Ludogorets was unintentional.

The England midfielder scored Tottenham's third in a 4-0 victory on Thursday from 53.7 yards when he received possession from a throw and saw a long ball forward sail into the top-right corner of the net.

Winks looked surprised after he celebrated with his Tottenham team-mates and only two goals have been scored from a longer distance in the Europa League since 2009-10.

Jordi Gomez's goal for Omonia against PSV (61.2 yards) and Kemar Roofe's strike for Rangers versus Standard Liege (55.4 yards), both in October of this year, were further away from goal.

But after his spectacular effort from distance caught Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev off his line, Winks said he had not meant it.

He told BT Sport: "I'd love to sit here and say that I did, but I've got to be honest and say no.

"I was bit gobsmacked myself. I saw Gareth Bale run in and overhit it. I'll take it at the end of the day.

"It has been a while since I last scored but I am happy with the way the team played."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho joked that Winks should have been a little more coy and claimed it was deliberate.

He said: "Harry is too honest, so I am not happy with him! With a goal like that you say you wanted to do it. But he's a good kid, he is honest."

Asked again about the goal at his post-match news conference, Mourinho added: "Winks was honest and he said in some flash interview that he wanted to play a diagonal ball to Bale.

"If it was me I would have said I did and won the Puskas goal!"

Winks hopes his overall performance has done enough to catch the eye of Mourinho after he admitted it has found it hard being on the fringes of the side in the Premier League.

He added: "It is tough. It is very difficult. All I can do is when I get opportunities like this is play well.

"It was really enjoyable. We started with the right intensity because we didn't give them any chance to breathe. It was a good game for us."

Carlos Vinicius scored twice as Tottenham claimed a comfortable 4-0 win over Ludogorets and edged closer to a place in the Europa League knockout stage.

Brazilian striker Vinicius, on a season-long loan from Benfica, netted for Spurs for the first time with two clinical finishes in a one-sided match on Thursday.

But the pick of the goals belonged to Harry Winks, as a spectacular long-range effort drifted over Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev from 53.7 yards, before Lucas Moura added a fourth with a crisp finish.

The win moved second-placed Spurs level with Group J leaders Royal Antwerp on nine points, although the Belgian side are ahead courtesy of their head-to-head record.

Gareth Bale, in search of his 200th career goal, tried his luck with two free-kicks and a long-range effort early after Jose Mourinho made 10 changes from the side which beat Manchester City 2-0 on Saturday.

But it was Vinicius who opened the scoring for Spurs after he got on the end of Dele Alli's deflected pass and calmly slid the ball home.

His second goal owed much to Alli's unselfish play after the midfielder cut the ball back for Vinicius to tap in from close range following Tanguy Ndombele's burst forward.

Ludogorets struggled to get out of their own half and were unable to register a single shot in the first half, with goalkeeper Joe Hart touching the ball just seven times before the break.

Bale got himself into a good position after the interval only to be denied by Iliev at the far post following Matt Doherty's knockdown.

Iliev was embarrassed after 63 minutes, though, when Winks collected the ball from a throw-in on the left flank and remarkably picked out the top-right corner, via the crossbar, with the Ludogorets keeper off his line.

Alli and Vinicius were both involved again when Spurs notched a fourth, Moura the beneficiary as some clever link-up play allowed him to fire home.

Iliev at least partially redeemed himself late on when he saved from substitute Harvey White from close range, but Tottenham eased to another three points.

Jose Mourinho hailed Harry Kane and said the Tottenham star was at his best "when the puzzle around him is perfect".

Kane provided his ninth assist of the Premier League season – to go with seven goals – during Spurs' 2-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday.

The forward had just eight assists in his previous three league campaigns combined (94 games), but set up Giovani Lo Celso's goal, which doubled Tottenham's lead following Son Heung-min's opener.

Mourinho lauded Kane, who helped Spurs win back-to-back league games against City for the first time since a run of three between September 2015 and October 2016.

"He's a fantastic player. When the puzzle around him is perfect for him he's a fantastic player," the Spurs head coach told a news conference.

"Maybe he will be responsible for you and fans and people that love football, maybe he will change the way people look to a striker. 

"He is fantastic and he very much represents the spirit of the team."

Tottenham ended a day top of the Premier League table for the first time since August 2014.

But Mourinho was unfazed as he tried to keep Spurs focused, with Leicester City able to return to the top if they beat Liverpool on Sunday.

"I prefer to be top of the league than second, third or fourth, but it's not an obsession. It's not a problem for me if Leicester wins and goes top of the league. It's not a problem at all," he said. 

"I just want to win my game which is what we keep saying since the beginning of the season. We want to win the next match. I don't care about the table, I don't care about the opponents, about the competition. I want to win the next match and go to every game with the players believing and organised in a way that we can beat that opponent. 

"We are a process. This team is a process in place. Good signs of evolution at every level. We are very happy with that of course but I don't care too much about the table. It's just a good feeling to go home and obviously be top of the league is a good feeling."

Jose Mourinho insists Tottenham cannot be expected to challenge for the Premier League title in his first full campaign in charge despite sitting top of the table.

Spurs produced a clinical display to see off Manchester City 2-0 on Saturday thanks to a goal in each half from Son Heung-min and substitute Giovani Lo Celso.

They have won four games in a row in the top flight, are seven without defeat and will finish a day at the summit of the league for the first time since August 2014.

But Mourinho, who celebrated one year in charge on Friday, does not believe his side can realistically compete for the title.

"It feels good [to be top], but maybe tomorrow we are second again and honestly that would not be a problem for me, I am just happy with the evolution," he told BBC Sport.

"People cannot expect us to come here and after one season we are fighting for the title. 

"We are not fighting for the title, we are just fighting to win every match. But we are going to lose matches, we are going to draw matches.

"Dinner tonight will be nice and relaxed. I will watch Atletico Madrid v Barcelona and sleep like an angel. But no problem if Leicester win [tomorrow] and we are second again."

Tottenham scored from their only two shots on target – compared to five such attempts from City – in a game that saw them have 34 per cent of the ball.

Mourinho's men were well drilled and the Portuguese praised his players for sticking to the plan as he got one over on long-time rival Pep Guardiola.

"That discipline is not just about a plan, it's about an emergency plan. In case somebody makes a mistake you have to ready for it," he said.

"That discipline requires a great effort. I'm so proud of all of the players. They were fantastic."

Kane set up Lo Celso for Spurs' second, making it nine assists in nine Premier League games this season – one more than he managed in the previous three seasons combined.

He played 22 passes in the opposition half, five more than next best Serge Aurier, while no player on the pitch was involved in more duels (14) across the 90 minutes.

Like boss Mourinho, however, the Tottenham skipper was keen to put his side's impressive start into perspective, with 29 games to play.

"We'll enjoy it but we know we've got a long way to go," he told Sky Sports. "It's a season where you've got to do all it takes to win games.

"It's going to be an up and down year, you've seen that already. Part of my job is to work hard for the team, win tackles, of course score goals and getting assists.

"But I enjoy defending and working hard. The feeling now after the game once you've put in a great shift, there's no better feeling when you win. 

"It was a fantastic performance. We knew it was going be a tough game, Man City are a great team but we used the ball really well. 

"We had a game plan to defend as a unit in that mid-block, sometimes it went into a low block, but I thought everyone worked their socks off."

There was one blemish late on for Tottenham as they lost Toby Alderweireld to injury and Mourinho is concerned the centre-back could be facing a spell on the sidelines.

"It's bad," he said at his post-match media conference. "It's a muscular injury. 

"We have three centre-backs in the Premier League but not in the Europa League where we don't have Joe Rodon. 

"There's nobody to blame. He played in matches for Belgium they needed to win. It's just one of those things."

If Jose Mourinho could have scripted the perfect 45 minutes to celebrate his old adversary Pep Guardiola signing a new contract at Manchester City, it would probably have looked something like the following.

Tottenham allow City 11 shots and 69 per cent of the ball, don't concede and score from their only attempt. Oh, and every Spurs player's average position is inside the defensive half. Throw in a VAR disallowed equaliser for further "Mourinho masterclass" bonus points, if you like.

That's exactly what transpired during the first half of a fixture where Guardiola must curse his luck after another 2-0 defeat.

Under the modern interpretation of handball, the bouncing ball brushing Gabriel Jesus' bicep before he laid it back for Aymeric Laporte to lash home left Mike Dean with little choice. The Premier League's most camera-relishing referee could simply bask in the theatre of trotting over to the pitchside monitor.

A VAR intervention denied City an injury-time winner in a 2-2 draw between the sides that they dominated at the Etihad Stadium last season, Laporte and Jesus combining for the latter to have his celebrations curtailed on that occasion.

In 2019-20's corresponding fixture, Guardiola's men enjoyed similar statistical superiority, Ilkay Gundogan missed a penalty and they lost 2-0. This is before we consider the 2019 Champions League quarter-final, another missed penalty, Fernando Llorente, Raheem Sterling, VAR and all that.

However, as Guardiola begins what looks to be a third act of his City tenure, any sympathy should be qualified.

It is not an overstatement to say the way the Catalan sets up his teams, the way they effortlessly hog the ball and paint pretty passing pictures has changed football and how we understand it. A part of that is knowing Manchester City having in excess of 60 per cent possession is not exceptional. It is a given.

The true temperature check of how a team lying 10th and eight points shy of their opponents at the summit is what they do with it. The answer is, increasingly, not a great deal.

The majority of those 11 first-half shots were blocked (six) and three were on target. Although their unblemished Champions League campaign has been more free-scoring, the last time City netted more than once in a Premier League match was September's 5-2 defeat to Leicester City.

Even though Guardiola is typically a man to balk at simplistic suggestions put forward in press conferences - not without reason given his numerous pioneering thoughts on the game - the injuries suffered by Jesus and Sergio Aguero already this season must be considered a big factor in the scoring shortfall.

But as City once again approached the challenge of a packed, deep-lying defence with inverted wingers, it was easy to feel like you'd seen this one before. Mourinho certainly had. He could have written the script, right down to a counter-attacking second midway through the second half for Giovani Lo Celso. The result was in no doubt from that point.

Ferran Torres operated on the margins after his stellar showing for Spain in midweek, Riyad Mahrez customarily underwhelmed and the City press was too easy to play through. The option of Leroy Sane tearing down the outside is sorely missed and Guardiola repeatedly fielding the same answer to that problem looks no closer to yielding results. He is one of football's great thinkers, but here he might consider Albert Einstein's definition of insanity.

Like Mahrez, Rodri and Joao Cancelo are major signings to have arrived for in the region of £60million since City's majestic 100-point title win in 2017-18, back when they scored a lot. Both were culpable on Son Heung-min's opening goal.

Rodri has been cast as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho despite having none of the Brazil veteran's combative streak, while Cancelo has found a home at left-back because Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain have decided against specialist cover for the injury-plagued Benjamin Mendy. Mendy is currently injured.

Within this stew of general competence and obvious flaws, it was easy to conclude Guardiola's extended terms are motivated as much by the present malaise as the future potential of the likes of Torres and the perplexingly benched Phil Foden.

City look a lot like the trophy-less 2016-17 team Guardiola inherited. Talented, a handful for anyone but fatally vulnerable. Then as now, scraping a top-four place looks like the most sensible ambition.

The key, damning difference is he and Begiristain built every beam of this squad. Admitting he needs time to unpick the errors of the past 18 months might be the first step on what looks like a long road back to the summit of English football.

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