After a 1-1 draw with Southampton on the 21st of January, and a 1-1 draw away at League 2 Newport 6 days later, things were not looking up for Pochettino and the boys. Especially with the trio of premier league games that awaited the lads in the following couple of weeks. Manchester United at home, Liverpool away and Arsenal at home was what was waiting for us following these poor results, with the outcomes of these games arguably season defining. So let’s assess.
After the two poor results in the league and the FA Cup, we moved on to Manchester United at Wembley on the night of Wednesday 31st January. United sat 2nd in the league with Spurs beginning to lose ground on all of their top 4 rivals, a win was crucial, but what Spurs would turn up? Well wait about 11 seconds after kick off and you’ll find out. Spurs were up 1-0 very early on thanks to Christian Eriksen, who now holds the record for the third fastest goal in premier league history. And the momentum carried on throughout the game. United began to come back into things, however a 28th minute own goal by Phil Jones all but sealed the victory for Spurs, with the rest of the game showing our quality in defence and control over our opponents.
Following a top victory at Wembley, we went on to Anfield on Sunday 4th. A ground in which we are notoriously poor at, with Tottenham only winning 2 in their last 25 trips to Merseyside. However a 4-1 win against the reds earlier in the season may provide some confidence for us. Early on we concede to arguably the player of the year Mohammad Salah, going 1-0 down after just 3 minutes. It looked to be yet another poor showing at Anfield. However after holding on until half time at just 1-0 down, we appeared to come out in the second a different, and frankly much better team. We were superior in every aspect in the final 45 and our efforts were rewarded from a Wanyama rocket strike 80 minutes in. However the talk of the game really came in the final 5 minutes of the game.
So we win a controversial penalty in the 87th minute, after Kane was ‘brought down’ by Karius. The Liverpool fans along with many others believed that Kane dived, and all those fans got their justice, with our star man unfortunately missing the penalty, Karius remaining down the middle and saving it. As if this wasn’t enough drama, Salah then went on to bag a second, scoring what was an outrageous goal. Weaving in and out of our defence, and slotting the ball past Lloris in the 91st minute. Klopp and the entirety of the stadium believed that this was the winning goal, me included. Nevertheless, this game was still not over. Lamela, following a kick to the leg by Van Dijk, wins another penalty, and Kane was not going to miss a second time, calmly slotting the ball home in the 95th minute. Looking back on the game, I believe 2-2 was a fair result, a draw overall is an accurate portrayal of a game which was a game of two halves. Liverpool battered us in the first 45, with the second belonging to the Spurs. Overall it was a thrilling 90 minutes for any fan of the sport.
So. 4/6 points had been won thus far. However the real game came on Saturday 10th February. As this was the North London Derby. By this point Spurs had also confirmed their place in the FA Cup 5th round after a 2-0 win at home to Newport in mid-week. Arsenal came into the game having new faces Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang in fine form after their 5-1 lashing against Everton the game before. And after the woeful performance by the lads earlier on in the season at the Emirates, this was not only a chance to get one up and go 7 points clear of our North London rivals, but one of redemption.
After a tightly contested first half, the score remained 0-0 at half time. However the second half is really where the tide turned. Similar to the Liverpool game, Spurs came out much better in the second half, with the deadlock finally being broken by who else but the main man Kane 49 minutes in. The following 20 minutes were all Spurs. We could’ve and should’ve been 3-0 up by the 70th, however this was not the case. With a combination of some strong saves by Cech, and some poor misses by us. 1-0 the score remained, and Arsenal slowly began to come back into the game. We were fortunate that the out-of-form Lacazette missed a couple of good chances, however there is no doubt that it was a deserved win, 1-0 being the final score.
Overall it was a fantastic couple of weeks being a Spurs fan. A brilliant three displays at Wembley agaisnt United, Newport and Arsenal respectively, and a hard-earned point at Anfield. 7/9 points and a trip in the FA Cup 5th round. A huge shout out to the boys for putting in three amazing premier league shifts. The starting eleven remained unchanged in all three games, with all our players performing incredibly well. But what does this mean for the rest of our season, and how could it be, as I put it in the title, ‘vital to the rest of our season’?
Well following these three results, we still remain 5th in the league, however are now 7 points clear of our rivals Arsenal in 5th. Whilst only being one point behind 4th placed Chelsea, two behind 3rd placed Liverpool, and even only 4 behind United in second. Any of these three places are up for grabs, especially with the all three playing each other in the coming weeks. Spurs now have some favourable fixtures in the league, in which we can continue our strong run of form. These three results will give us a lot of confidence not only on the league, to which we can now finish strong and fight for a top 4 finish, but in both the Champions League and FA Cup as well. As of writing and publisihg this, we have Juventus away tonight, with a trip to Rochdale in the 5th round of the FA Cup at the weekend. In terms of the Champions League, the four previous results in the both the league and the cup will massively boost our boys’ confidence heading into what will no doubt be two tough games. However if we can get even a point, or more importantly an away goal against Juventus, who knows what we can do in the return leg at Wembley. And as far as Rochdale are concerned, we should be able to get a win there and move on to the quarter finals of the competition, in which we can really start thinking about possibly lifting it in May.
So all in all, the last few performances were incredible, and made me very happy and proud to be a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. And there is no question that the future is once again looking very bright.