SATURDAY 15th DECEMBER, 2018
(3pm - at Wembley)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) BURNLEY 0(0)
Referee:- Graham Scott
Assistants:- Simon Long & Neil Davies
Fourth official:- Lee Mason
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Davies, Rose; Sissoko, Skipp (sub Son, 75); Lamela (sub Llorente, 82), Dele, Lucas Moura (sub Eriksen, 65); Kane
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Walker-Peters, Eyoma; Winks
Burnley (5-4-1):- Hart; Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Mee (Capt.), Taylor; Lennon (sub Vokes, 90+3), Cork, Westwood, Brady (sub Hendrick, 90+2); Barnes (sub Wood, 80)
Subs not used:- Heaton; Lowton, Gibson; Vydra
Booked:- Brady, Bardsley (both for time wasting)
Eriksen wins it at the death.
It looked like being a frustrating day for Spurs as their fans endured freezing cold and wet weather, as well as Burnley's "anti-football" where they played a 5-4-1 formation, and so nearly succeeded in holding out for the precious point they sought.
Burnley ran down the time as much as they could from the outset, with referee Graham Scott having words with Joe Hart and his captain in the first half before showing yellow cards to both Brady and Bardsley in the second. The visitors did not even manage a shot on target, but Spurs didn't do much better until the latter stages, getting the win they needed in the 91st minute, thus retaining third place, whatever Chelsea and Arsenal do tomorrow.
This was Mauricio Pochettino's 100th Premier League win in 169 such games in charge of Tottenham. I thought perhaps he was resting Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier with a view to next Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final against Arsenal, but Vertonghen apparently has a thigh injury, and Dier has a virus. I am hoping to see both against Arsenal nonetheless.
18 year old Oliver Skipp made his first senior start for the club, and played next to Moussa Sissoko in front of a somewhat unfamiliar back four with Ben Davies playing the left centre-back role. Davies did play in that position in our pre-season games, and played confidently there today.
Burnley of course featured Aaron Lennon who was greeted fondly by the home crowd. Eriksen and Son started on the bench, and I think we can expect to see a strong team against Arsenal.
Burnley kicked off and there was little excitement in the first period of the game. Danny Rose was fouled and Kieran Trippier took the free kick, but hit it far too deeply across the area. Burnley actually won two corners in the 10th and 11th minute, and it looked to me like Mr Scott had missed a foul by Lennon after the first of these. Burnley's strategy was to cluster around Lloris and hit an inswinger, but Spurs managed to defend the situation.
After another Spurs free kick, this time on the right, Trippier fed the ball to Erik Lamela, who in turn passed to Lucas Moura who won a corner inside the Burnley area on the right. Two minutes later, Lamela hit an early lofted ball to Lucas Moura, who also took a snap shot which passed wide.
Dele collected a long ball, possibly from Alderweireld and fed Harry Kane, who went down in the box, but any appeals for a penalty went unheeded. Sissoko got forward down the right and tried to cut the ball back, but his cross was blocked. At least Spurs were trying to win the game.
Hart made a sharp save from Erik Lamela's shot after he had been put in by Sissoko. Oliver Skipp was having a very competent game in the middle, albeit missing a couple of possible challenges, but his passing is accurate. He fed a direct forward pass to Harry Kane, who passed to Dele on the right side of the box. Dele just failed to make the right connection.
Lamela and Kane fed Danny Rose, but his cross was too deep. Skipp fed a pass to Lamela, but his shot was far too high. Hart was not being tested enough.
Spurs nearly fell foul of a poor clearance by Lloris two minutes before the break, but when the ball was returned Barnes headed over.
Spurs conceded a free kick early in the second half, and after a cross by Lennon, Barnes's effort was blocked, and cleared. Harry Kane did force a save by Hart at his near post with a cross/shot from an angle deep on the right.
After Burnley's first yellow card, Eriksen was the first Spurs player off the bench, replacing Lucas Moura. A Danny Rose cross was met by Lamela, and Hart somehow made a reaction save. Harry Kane tried to follow-up, but was penalised.
Son replaced Skipp, and there was no doubt Pochettino was putting everything into getting the win. After an Eriksen corner on the left Lamela had a shot blocked which seemed to involve a defender's hand(s), but there was no great appeal, so perhaps I was being too hopeful.
Time was running down and Pochettino's last throw of the dice was to add Llorente to the attack, replacing Lamela. Fernando did have some impact in the middle too, heading down a Tripper cross for Son, who somehow missed the target. Lloris hit a ball long, which Kane headed on for Son, who crossed for Dele at the back post. Dele stretched, but could not hit the target. The draw was looking imminent, although in the very late stages Burnley did have one or two forays towards the Spurs goal.
The crowd (such as it was) was disappointed that only four minutes of added time were on offer, but Spurs scored in the first of these minutes. Dele had gone close, and I thought Llorente was involved in this move after a long ball by Trippier from deep on the right, but it was Harry Kane's final touch which gave Christian Eriksen the chance to hammer home inside Hart's right post.
Now, of course, Burnley found the inclination to speed up, and Sean Dyche inserted two late substitutes in a desperate effort to score. They had no opportunity as it was Spurs' turn to run down the time, although we did get more than 4 minutes added in the end. A potential banana skin result had been averted, and third place has been preserved for another week.
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