There was something palpable in the air about White Hart Lane following Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Whatever it was, it rhymed with “title”.
Such a dream remains wildly improbable, to be clear. Tottenham are enjoying a wonderful end-of-season run, but it might be too little too late after Chelsea put themselves in the driver’s seat mid-season.
Still, with Chelsea taking on a tricky Manchester United side on Sunday the possibility remains that Spurs could still narrow the gap separating them from the Blues. A loss at Old Trafford means the title race is down to a single point.
The superstitious might note an exceptional confluence of events on Saturday that suggest Tottenham’s season is far from over.
First, Mousa Dembélé did a goal. The Belgian midfielder simply does not score. In 190 appearances in all competitions for Spurs, he has only contributed 10 goals. For him to kick things off on Saturday truly suggested something special was about to happen.
Next, Heung-min Son continued his remarkable scoring streak. His 19th minute goal was his fourth in the last three matches. After at least two prior false starts with the club, it appears as if this, finally, is the Son Tottenham broke the bank to sign in 2015.
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Then, right after the interval, Harry Kane scored. That is hardly a rare event, but it was a welcome contribution from the England international after he spent the last several weeks sidelined with an ankle injury that might have kept him out for the season.
Finally, one minute into stoppage time at the end of the match, substitute Vincent Janssen finished Bournemouth off. That was the Dutchman’s first ever goal from open play in the Premier League, and felt like the beginning of his redemption following a rocky first season.
Taken together, this was a remarkable match from back to front. A veteran broke a dry spells, an also-ran continued on his quest to become a star, a star galloped back from injury and a lost cause earned his keep.
Contrast that with Tottenham at this point last season. After a marvelous season, Leicester City felt within reach at the top of the table. With just weeks remaining, Tottenham initially seemed up for the challenge.
It wasn’t meant to be however. A fatigue that had been chasing the team all season finally caught up to them. First they tripped up in draws to West Brom and Chelsea — the later of which cost them their title shot — and then collapsed completely in losses to Southampton and Newcastle.
Without jinxing anything, it’s hard to imagine this current Tottenham team suffering the same fate. So many of the team’s crucial components benefited from injury-enforced time away from the pitch. Unlike last season, where Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Harry Kane played virtually every game, this team looks positively fresh.
The return to full health of Kane, Victor Wanyama and Danny Rose will only strengthen that impression. This is a team who clearly have the will and the juice to see out these last remaining fixtures. Maybe they won’t catch up to Chelsea and the title — but they will come closer than any Tottenham team in recent memory.