Tottenham Hotspur’s best start to a top-flight season for more 60 years got even better as a 2-0 home victory over Fulham sent them two points clear at the Premier League summit on Monday.
Captain Son Heung-Min’s seventh league goal of the campaign and James Maddison’s first home strike for the club secured a seventh win in nine league matches.
Son curled a right-foot effort into the top corner in the 36th minute and then set up playmaker Maddison to score with a cool finish in the 54th.
Undefeated in the league under new manager Ange Postecoglou, Spurs have 23 points, two more than champions Manchester City and local rivals Arsenal. They next travel to Crystal Palace on Friday with the opportunity to move five ahead.
Fulham, who were disappointing despite some late chances after Tottenham eased off, are 13th on 11 points.
Victory was especially sweet as the west London side knocked Tottenham out of the League Cup on penalties — the only hiccup so far in Postecoglou’s impressive start in north London.
Postecoglou, prised from Celtic and tasked with rejuvenating the club’s fortunes, has now enjoyed the best start by a new manager in the Premier League.
Despite another victory, the Australian was not entirely happy with his team’s performance.
“It was a good result because Fulham are a tough team to break down,” Postecoglou told Sky Sports. “The second half wasn’t great and we didn’t play anywhere near the levels we can, we were wasteful.
“You have to respect the game and if you are off it a little bit it can drag you down. We took a few liberties which I wasn’t very happy with. It was our worst 45 minutes with the ball.”
Tottenham’s front-foot style was in evidence again as they carved out opportunities in the opening stages with Son denied by Fulham’s former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Defender Micky van de Van also volleyed a chance over the bar and Richarlison side-footed wide after a sweeping move.
Fulham’s best chance in the opening half fell to Joao Palhinha, whose header was superbly saved by Guglielmo Vicario.
The visitors offered Spurs a helping hand to break the deadlock when a poor pass by Calvin Bassey out of defence left them exposed and Richarlison found Son who skipped to his right before dispatching a curling effort beyond Leno.
Maddison was again at the heart of much of Tottenham’s best work, as he has been all season since arriving from Leicester City in the close season, and he was soon rewarded.
Son rolled the ball to the England international after more slack Fulham defending and Maddison opened his body and steered a silky low finish past Leno.
With another game on Friday, Maddison, Son and Richarlison were all substituted during the second half. Tottenham lost their focus and could have paid the price, but Fulham failed to make the most of several late opportunities.
“In the second half we ramped the pressure up a bit but in the end we come away with nothing,” said Fulham boss Marco Silva, who has never enjoyed a Premier League win over Spurs. “Maybe unfortunate to not score one or two and then we are talking about a different result.”