Dejan Kulusevski has acknowledged Tottenham have an advantage over their rivals with no European football this year and feels it could make the difference come the end of the season.
Spurs returned to the Premier League summit on Monday night with a 2-0 win over Fulham courtesy of goals from Son Heung-min and James Maddison.
Ange Postecoglou’s resurgent side are next in action on Friday at Crystal Palace, where they could go five points clear at the top with a victory and while Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have European fixtures to contend with this week, Tottenham can focus purely on league action.
“Honestly, it helps a lot. Physically, I remember last season was very hard playing three games a week,” Kulusevski said.
“You feel very tired in the warm-ups. Also, mentally not having to travel to Spain or Italy to play games helps. You are at home, with your family. You have a good rest mentally, so it is a huge thing that we have and we have to take advantage of that this year.
“You can feel the difference and hopefully you will see even more at the end of the season.
“It is early because we will see what happens. Everything can change every day so we don’t need to talk about (title), but we must live for the day with a smile, train hard and not forget who we are. We must try to get better every day.
“It is not important what people say. The important thing is to work hard, be humble, listen to the coach and keep the smiles on faces. Then at the end of the season we will see where we are.”
Tottenham’s young side produced a mature display against Fulham, creating early chances before Son broke the deadlock in the 36th minute.
Calvin Bassey’s misplaced pass under pressure from Spurs’ press was latched onto by Micky van de Ven, touched into Richarlison where he recycled the ball for Son, who dribbled past Tim Ream and curled superbly into the top corner for his seventh goal of the campaign.
Son turned provider nine minutes after half-time when Bassey again gave away the ball and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fizzed possession into Son, who played in Maddison for his first home goal as a Tottenham player.
The hosts took their foot off the gas during the final exchanges with Fulham wasteful late on, which led to Postecoglou lambasting his team for taking “liberties” post-match.
Kulusevski added: “Number one, we have to keep playing football and that is why we are winning. We have to get back to playing the way we can and be ready for Friday.”
Spurs were without the suspended Yves Bissouma for the visit of Fulham, but Hojbjerg slotted in to good effect on his first league start of the season.
The Danish midfielder expressed his delight at starting and urged his team-mates to “live with the pressure” amid talk of a potential title challenge.
“Honestly it felt amazing to play. It was really nice to play. It felt really good,” Hojbjerg said.
“First half I thought we played some good football. I think we had to score more than the one and second half we lost a bit of intensity. We let Fulham back into it but especially first half I thought was strong.
“It is up to the coach to analyse (second half) now and to show us a bit what we needed. Personally, I felt the quality on the ball dropped a bit, but again we always know the first game back from the internationals is always a challenge.
“I think it is game by game and it is important to try to improve. Improve every single week and try to see where we can take it. I think you have to live with the pressure, assume the pressure but again it is about improving and looking at yourself week in, week out.”