In what is widely regarded as one of the toughest away days in the Premier League now Sam Allardyce has asserted his influence on the side, Spurs battled to a 1-0 win last night to cut the gap to leaders Chelsea back to 4 points.
Whilst Spurs’ actual performance last night was far from their best of the season, many fans would agree with me when I say that was the kind of game that they would have lost in previous seasons – especially following the FA Cup Semi-Final defeat to Chelsea on Saturday which would have undoubtedly had an effect on confidence and morale heading into the game at Selhurst Park.
A lot of fans questioned why Pochettino chose to play attacking midfielder Heung-Min Son at left wing back against Chelsea at Wembley was on Saturday, but the Argentinian coach appeared to have learnt his lesson and opted for a more familiar back line last night, with Kyle Walker and Ben Davies occupying the full back positions. Spurs looked far more solid defensively than they did on the weekend, with Toby Alderwiereld and Jan Vertonghen backing up some peoples’ claims that they are the best defensive partnership in the country.
Palace’s threat of Zaha and Townsend either side of Benteke had their moments, but Tottenham’s resilience kept out the Belgian target man for the whole 90 minutes – no mean feat considering the brace Benteke scored at Anfield on Sunday. Going forward, the steely midfield partnership of Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama provided the base in which Spurs built on – even if Wanyama was lucky to avoid a second yellow card late in the first half. Prior to Pochettino arriving at White Hart Lane, Spurs were seen as a soft touch and could be got at if you “roughed them up” a little. In the last few years, this perception has changed and it is games like this which show they can mix up their game to suit any occasion – one touch and attractive when facing a weaker side, defensively solid and organised when facing sides like Palace away from the fortress that has become White Hart Lane.
In Eriksen and Alli, Spurs posess two of the most talented attacking midfielders in the League and if the big boys from around Europe come knocking at Daniel Levy’s door, massive money would need to be offered in order to prize them away from North London. Eriksen, who was the only really success out of the multiple signings who joined the club in the same summer Bale left to join Real Madrid, has developed in to a real all-round player. Despite his slight frame, he mixed it with Palace’s physical midfield last night and his education at Ajax when he was breaking through as a player explains the composure and technique he possesses.
This summer is a huge one for Spurs. Saturday’s game against Chelsea highlighted the lack of real quality beyond the first 11 within the squad – whilst Chelsea threw on Hazard, Costa and Fabregas, Spurs were only able to turn to a bench which included Vincent Janssen, Moussa Sissoko and Kevin-Georges NKoudou. With chairman Daniel Levy’s reputation of selling the club’s star players if the price is right, it is absolutely imperative that the top players at the club such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane stay at the club and transfer funds are given to Mauricio Pochettino to build on this golden generation, rather than ripping it apart.
With the iconic White Hart Lane being demolished, the club are expected to move to the National Stadium Wembley for a year, whilst the final parts of construction for their new state-of-the-art stadium is completed. The “Wembley Curse” is becoming a real worry for fans and the club must feel the same way, given their struggles this year when playing there for the club’s European fixtures. If the club do move over to Wembley, fans will hope that their progression is not halted.
Spurs are very close to getting this right. If the club are run correctly, then the chances of them opening their new stadium with a trophy in their hands is a very realistic possibility.