Spurs grinded out a 2-0 win at Burnley in the type of performance you’d expect from a Premier League title-winning side.
The first half wasn’t at all pretty, but that’s what you’d expect from an away match at Turf Moor. Burnley, in the first 45 minutes, achieved exactly what they set out to.
They frustrated Spurs at every turn, making it difficult to play the kind of expansive football Tottenham have formed their identity on.
Spurs mustered two shots on goal in the opening stanza. And while they controlled the lion’s share of possession, 60 percent, Spurs were unable to create many threatening moves. Delle Ali, unbalanced by Michael Keane’s last-ditch slide tackle, missed a sitter in the 32nd minute.
Barring the 20 year old’s glaring and uncharacteristic miss, Spurs had nothing to show from a frustrating first half.
To quite literally add insult to injury, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks suffered injuries, both of whom had to be withdrawn.
Spurs make a statement in second half
Spurs dominated proceedings after the interval and were fully deserving of their 1-0 lead. Burnley had all sorts of difficulty dealing with Tottenham’s 66th minute corner, which was amplified by Jeff Hedrick’s fluffed clearance.
Eric Dier capitalized on the rare Burnley blunder to give Tottenham an invaluable 1-0 lead.
Dier controlled with his thigh before side footing home from about six meters out, finishing with poise and aplomb. It was the kind of break Spurs needed to bust the match open.
Tottenham pushed on from there and a second goal was inevitable as Burnley started to open up in their futile search for an equalizer.
Christian Eriksen, in a five-second span, showed exactly why he’s one of the most valuable players to any team in the top flight. Unheralded for his tacking ability, Eriksen made minced meat out of Joey Barton, dispossessing the elder statesman with embarrassing ease.
He then knocked a precise long ball to Alli, whose first-time cross was met by Son Heung-Min. Son had the easiest of tasks and obliged comfortably to put the match to bed.
Eriksen, although he won’t be credited with an assist on the play, was integral in setting the play in motion. The diminutive Dane has the most Premier League assists, 23, since the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
Spurs show title-winning caliber
Burnley have won eight of their last 11 games and are close to a record-breaking season at Turf Moor. If they gain five points from their final five matches, they will break the record for most home points of any newly promoted side.
That stat alone shows what kind of accomplishment Spurs’ victory is. Burnley are a tough nut to crack at Turf Moor and Spurs displayed the kind of resilience and determination characteristic of title-winning sides.
There’s always one match in a season that defines a title-winning side’s championship run. This could be that match for Spurs, who were without Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. Wanyama and Winks were forced out through injury, making the task all the more difficult for the north Londoners.
Mauricio Pochettino moved to a back four after half-time to accommodate for the first-half injuries. Spurs adapted like you’d expect from a top side, dictating play in every facet of the game.
Burnley last lost at home to Manchester City on January 2 and, before today’s match, hadn’t been shutout at Turf Moor for six months, since losing 1-0 to Arsenal on October 2.
Spurs did one better than Chelsea, too, as the Blues only summoned a point from their recent trip to Burnley.
And Spurs took all three points without their leader and top goal scorer in the lineup.
Oh, and speaking of Chelsea, did I mention they lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace today?
While seven points is still a big gap to make up, I’d say today’s outcomes are great cause for optimism.