Christian Eriksen is desperate to have the last laugh in his friendly feud with Kasper Schmeichel as Tottenham’s title rivalry with Leicester gets serious.
Spurs trail Leicester by eight points in the Barclays Premier League table heading into their match at Stoke on Monday night, with the Foxes rescuing a point at home to West Ham on Sunday.
Eriksen has been trying to stoke the fire over the last few weeks by sending texts to his Danish team-mate Schmeichel and last month he joked it might not be a bad thing if the goalkeeper returned from international duty with a niggle or two.
Leicester still have games against Swansea, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea to come, and Eriksen admits he recently took the chance to tease Schmeichel again when he messaged him about booking a restaurant.
Who will send the last laugh message?
“I hope it’s me,” Eriksen said.
“I just texted him the other day. I needed him to help me with a table in London, funnily enough. I said ‘good luck winning…or not’ and he said the same back.
“So of course we are still in contact and we’re in the national team together and there are a lot of jokes, there is a good relationship between us.
“We are colleagues and friends but it’s not like we’re texting each other every week either.
“It’s probably funnier to text each other now because of where we are in the league but it’s just normal guy banter.”
Schmeichel and his team-mates insist they are just enjoying the moment and not even thinking about being crowned champions in May. Eriksen, however, is sceptical.
“I think they are. Of course they are,” Eriksen said.
“When you are that close and you are coming from the position that they are in, of course they will be looking at the title. That is normal.
“Talking to the press you say things a little differently.”
Tottenham have a mountain to climb but their run-in appears slightly kinder, with games against West Brom, Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle to follow the trip to the Britannia Stadium.
Three players in the team – Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Eriksen – also have experience of winning the title from behind after the trio helped Ajax overcome a 12-point deficit on FC Twente in 2011, pipping their rivals to the post on the final day of the season.
“I think we were second until the last day of the season when we played Twente, who were first and one point ahead,” Eriksen said.
“If you won the game you were champions. For us, the whole season we were trailing and I think at some points we were 12 points behind. But we came closer and closer, and then we got it.
“I was really young back then – I’m still not that old! – but for me it was a really good experience and you could see what it meant for the club. It’s a little bit the same here.”
Eriksen may find the gap too wide to close this time around but is confident Tottenham’s title challenge is not a one-off.
The 24-year-old is one of a handful of players, including Vertonghen, to have held early talks over a new contract this summer and if Spurs can keep their talented squad together, the future looks bright.
“We have the team to play for the title and, if all the players stay, we can do better next season,” Eriksen said.
“We have given a good picture to the world that we are a really strong team and not someone that you just push over.”
Have something to tell us about this article?