The game of football can be all about fine margins, a stoppage time winner sending a team to the top of the table, a final day own goal relegating your team after thirty-seven games of hard work and endeavour.
Single goal wins can give you titles, a lot of them to be precise and despite everyone wanting to see attractive, attacking, flowing fast football sometimes you have to mix it with grinding out some less than sparkling performances.
Tottenham’s result at Burnley was very much the latter, that though is to take nothing away from a very disciplined performance from the hosts, undone by one corner routine which sent the points back to North London.
Sean Dyche’s team were set up to frustrate and ask Spurs to probe and find a way through, something they struggled to do for the majority of the game, understandable om Dyche’s part though given Burnley’s wretched start to the season. When you don’t have the resources of the bigger clubs you can only ask of your players to make it difficult for the opposition to play.
Burnley made sure as well the centre halves Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld were pulled all over the pitch to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Spurs and they did indeed have the ball in the net in the first half but correctly ruled out for offside.
The fluency that Spurs showed last weekend in tearing apart West Ham was severely lacking in Jose Mourinho’s men as they struggled to find any rhythm going forward nor to test Nick Pope in the Burnley goal. Whilst Burnley fashioned the better chances, not many tested Hugo Lloris and those that did were comfortably dealt with by the Spurs stopper.
What they do have is options from the bench which has been a long time coming for the North London side. Gareth Bale didn’t even make it onto the pitch Sergio Reguilon was also unused, Dele Ali not even making the matchday eighteen.
Erik Lamela did spark a little more urgency into proceedings when introduced for Lucas Mora, more direct running at the Clarets defence was evidently needed and duly applied.
The solitary goal came from a Lamela corner worked on the training ground, Harry Kane peeling away to head back across the penalty area to an unmarked Heung-Min Son to net what proved to be the winning goal, a combination that is starting to become feared throughout the Premier League.
The win has Spurs on a five match unbeaten league run, a far cry from the opening day defeat to Everton who still currently lead the table and the fine margins of those late draws with both Newcastle and West Ham is that they would now be two points clear leading the way instead of two points behind the Blues.
There is still a very long way to go in this season and while Spurs now appear to have back up to every position on the pitch, the question is how far can they go? Defensively against West Ham they showed the same frailties that have often plagued them becoming a very top team and that will be the main shortcoming putting up a title challenge.
They do however have the firepower to outscore teams, not just from the starting eleven but they will need some more clean sheets and not so pretty performances just to maintain challenging for the top four and Champions League again.
With some games now starting to feel a bit sterile with no fans inside which of course means no atmosphere, results are still very much unpredictable and there are likely to be a whole host of twists and turns in the coming months, it’s going to be down to which sides take advantage and those that rest on their laurels.
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