By Wayne Veysey

28th Dec, 2015 | 4:50pm

Spurs are genuine title challengers: Five things we learned from Watford 1 Tottenham 2

Mauricio Pochettino’s much-improved team can be considered genuine title challengers, Odion Ighalo is striker out of the top drawer and other things we learned from Watford 1 Tottenham 2
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Spurs are the real deal
What a fine team Tottenham have assembled. Strong at the back with a superb goalkeeper, solid and inventive in midfield, and possessing a genuine cutting edge. Pochettino’s side are the real deal and the best fielded by the club since Harry Redknapp was urging Gareth Bale to zoom past his opposing full-back. Spurs climbed to third in the table, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, for at last 24 hours after their second victory in three days and third in a row. Pochettino and Daniel Levy will need to finetune in January to bolster a squad that is alarmingly thin in attack but, in this most open of title races, the head honchos must not limit their ambitions to a top-four finish.
Kane must be wrapped in cotton wool
The prolific striker did not add to his 11-goal league tally but once again led the line with energy, enthusiasm and the touch of class that elevates him into the top bracket of centre-forwards. With no senior striker in the squad to ease some of the burden on Harry Kane, it is vital that the England international is wrapped in cotton wool and his game time managed appropriately to ensure he is as effective in the second half of the season as he has been in the first. Ideally, Spurs must buy a proven scorer in the January window and, if they do not, the pressure on Kane to lead the line and score the goals could become too much.

Yellow peril: Ighalo is the most prolific striker in England in 2015

Ighalo is in the £30million bracket
What a mighty fine striker Odion Ighalo has become. His superbly taken equaliser was his 14th Premier League goal of the season, a record beaten only by 15-goal pair Jamie Vardy and Romelu Lukaku. Even that in-form duo cannot match the Watford spearhead’s magnificent goal haul in the calendar year. Ighalo has now scored 30 league goals in 2015, more than any other player in the top four tiers of English football. The 26-year-old is not only the jewel in Watford’s crown but a striker who would enhance any side in the Premier League. He is a player who deserves to be rated in the £30million bracket.
Ake pays price for rush of blood
The on-loan Chelsea midfielder has impressed for Watford this season but his high tackle on Erik Lamela after 62 minutes of this fiercely-fought content was dangerous and rightly rewarded with a red card. Nathan Ake tried to get first to a bouncing ball but caught the Argentine on his thigh with a studs-first tackle. The 20-year-old paid the price for his rashness as, just 48 hours after securing a 2-2 draw at Chelsea, Watford were force to play for the last half-hour with just 10 men. They defended stoically but eventually succumbed to the visitors’ pressure in the dying moments.

Main man: Tottenham need to wrap Harry Kane in cotton wool

Trippier is providing competition for Walker
The former Burnley defender has taken his time to find his feet at Tottenham and has been very much the understudy to established right-back Kyle Walker. But Kieran Trippier has improved markedly in his recent showings and demonstrated against Watford that Walker could soon be looking over his shoulder to find his fellow 25-year-old Englishman.