Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Burnley
Three points is all that matters; that’s what we kid ourselves after matches like this one. The style, the swagger, the confidence we expect, none if of it was there. But it doesn’t matter; we took three points and that’s what we needed to do. Particularly as it enabled us to close the gap to fourth place. I know some think it’s a waste of time and pointless exercise – and this season’s disastrous Champions League experiment provides substance to that viewpoint – but with no league title to aim at, there’s some consolation in qualifying again to give it another go.
Burnley will feel aggrieved I’m sure, at not winning this one. Before Dele Alli’s equaliser, they might have been two-up. Gray hit his shot at Hugo Lloris rather than the Frenchman making a fantastic save but so long as they stay out of the goal, the ‘keeper gets the credit. Why not, the striker would rather his effort be chalked down to a save rather than the horrendous miss it really was. Of course, we could have been one-up as well after Dele Alli struck the post early on.
The visitors broke through just after twenty minutes and we can’t say we hadn’t been warned. Early exchanges had seen the Clarets swarm around the ball, seeking to impose themselves on the match and another episode saw the ball cut back to Barnes who slotted home. 1 – 0 and honestly, we couldn’t argue. Thankfully, it served as a bit of a wake-up call and within five minutes, Dele Alli had slotted home from Walker’s cross.
After that, the match settled into a familiar pattern. Burnley found the driver, sobered him up and got him to park the buss across the middle of the park. Successfully as well, Chances became limited as both sides endeavoured but achieved little else.
The match sparked into life with Moussa Sissoko’s introduction. Seven minutes after his introduction, the £30m man could quite easily have been running the bath for everyone. A full-on studs-first challenge is always a foul unless it’s committed by a Spurs player then it’s just a firm challenge. It’s a man’s game, dontcha know. He should have seen red, let’s not beat about the bush; it was late and high; a red card by any judgement.
Except the referees and I for one, am not complaining. Particularly since a minute later he was threading a pass into Danny Rose’s path. The England full back lashed it home and the points were safe. It feels like I should add ‘ish’ at this point because we’re more than just a little vulnerable at times.
Should we worry about the performance? Football wisdom has it that the sign of a good side is one which plays badly and wins. We’ve been largely indifferent and out-of-sorts over the last couple of months but somehow, we’ve remained in touch with the top four.
Going into a busy period of the season, I’m not going to argue with that outcome. It suggests that once we finally find our form we can kick-on and finally cast twenty years of wretched history to the wastepaper basket.