Danny Rose has said he is surprised that Tottenham are so close to the Premier League leaders, and he feels it is encouraging that they are competing at the top without yet producing their best form.
Spurs, who lost back-to-back fixtures in September, have won their last three. But those victories have come against Brighton, Huddersfield and Cardiff, and Saturday's narrow 1-0 home win over the league's bottom side was indicative of some unconvincing displays.
Rose was therefore surprised when he emerged from the dressing room and discovered Tottenham were only one point behind the leaders -- a gap that has since widened to two points after Chelsea's 3-0 win at Southampton was followed by a 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City.
"It's a shock," he said. "I knew if we won we'd go third but I didn't realise we'd only be a point behind.
"In some ways we have to be happy with that. I spent a lot of time on the bench last season and I got to watch first-hand how well we can play. I still think we're a bit off that at the minute. Saturday was another ugly win and we have to learn how to kill teams off. We should have scored three or four, easily.
"At the same time we have to be frustrated. The defeat to Watford was very frustrating -- it was a game we should not be losing. The loss to Liverpool, it was probably the right result. It's mixed emotions but we can't complain about where we are now."
Winning while playing below-par has often been a hallmark of great teams and champions, and Rose insisted his side has the quality to maintain their position.
"I do think we're a great team," he said. "It's hard to say it's the sign of champions because we haven't won anything yet.
"But it's a great sign and I'd rather win ugly than lose playing brilliant football. Points are all that matters right now. Hopefully when we get back [from the international break] the performances will come.
"History says under this manager that October, November and December is when we are very strong, and we look forward to it when we get back.
"It literally is just a matter of time [before the performances come]. It doesn't help that we have a lot of injuries at the minute, so it's hard for people to get a run in the team.
"Once we get a few more injured players back and get a consistent team out there on the field, I'm more than confident the performances will come."
Rose has been called up to the England squad for the UEFA Nations League clashes with Croatia and Spain, but his involvement is in doubt after he limped off in the 88th minute of Saturday's match against Cardiff.
"I've just got a sore groin," the left-back said. "Hopefully it's nothing too serious. I'll meet up and England will assess it."