Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Middlesbrough
White Hart Lane
If you`re a team trying to win the title, these are the type of games you need to win. You win titles by beating the teams in the lower part of the league, the results against the sides around you are just added bonuses. With Chelsea humiliating 'TheSameOld` Arsenal, and Liverpool losing to Hull; we had a great chance of consolidating on the 2nd position. But that`s the difference between this side and the Spurs we`ve seen in the previous years. We believe in ourselves, we have the mentality of a top side now. The players are motivated to fight for the title and not just the Top4. We trust our abilities to overtake the above us, we aren`t worried about the pack that stands below. And this is exactly the kind of belief that gets you over the line.
The game started in an expected fashion. Boro sitting deep and Spurs dominating possession. Traore went on a run and played in a cross which was headed over by Negredo. Few minutes later we had the best chance with Alli playing in Son, only for Valdes to make a brilliant save. We huffed and puffed but hardly created anything substantial. Son and Davies were constantly finding space only to mess up the end product. Then Alli was played in by Eriksen only to find the side netting. The only time when Son managed to find the perfect cross, our very own Harry put it over the bar. Suddenly the demons of the Sunderland game were knocking the door again. We ended the half strongly, but nothing on the score line. It started to seem like one of those days, to be honest it was. A resolute organised defence with 10 players behind the ball, with lots of indecisiveness on our part. The good thing about today was the crowd, whenever there were moans and boos from some part, the rest of the crowd started to sing. And the whole stadium started rocking again. It really spurred on the players and the intensity didn`t drop. Again this is what has changed, not just the players but the crowd believes too. There are some who`ll always be pessimistic but then this team is giving them very chances to stay the same. Dembele played in Alli and who found Son in the box, who again didn`t opt for the first time shot/cross and pulled the ball back. Luckily he was caught and we earned a penalty, eventually slotted home by Kane. The rest of the game continued in similar fashion, with our players suddenly decerebrating as soon as they reached the box. We seriously should`ve scored quite a few today. Boro came to life in the final few minutes and almost gave us a scare when De Roon was giving time and space in the box. His shot went wide, and so did our smiles.
Lloris was largely a spectator, and didn`t have a single save to make.
Toby was his usual best, the way he dealt with Traore shows why he is the best defender in the PL. Traore was supposed to be Davies` man but Toby realised he`s Boro`s biggest threat and cleaned him out of the game whenever he entered our half. His pace, his trickery didn`t move a single strand in Toby`s slick hairstyle.
Dier did what was required of him, like he always does. But he needs improve a lot if wants to be first choice. He needs to work on his passing, especially long balls. You cannot keep playing balls out of play or in spaces where none of your team mates are. Also, he still has problems dealing with bouncing balls, once he sorts that out his sheer discipline can make him one of the best defenders in the league.
Walker had an OK game by his standards. We didn`t see a lot of him today going ahead, but that was pretty much down to Downing`s good work. On the other flank Davies tried his best to fill in Rose` shoes and actually had a really good game. Along with Son he was our main threat.
Moussa was the huge wall that glides all over without leaving a trail. Wanyama was the huge monster barraging everything that came his way with his stamp. Nothing new from them, same old scintillating stuff. It`s almost getting boring now.
Eriksen tried his best but he`s almost never been able to do it against a well organised defence, and it showed again today. He tested Valdes a few times but that was all. I`ll give Alli a 10 on 10 just for keeping his calm when Valdes was trying some weird stuff on his nose. As soon as the replay started I was looking forward to a 3 match ban, so relieved that I was wrong. Son had an equivocal performance today, with the positions he got in you could argue he could`ve done better but then he was the one who made the difference. He should`ve been on the score-sheet today, and he`ll be kicking himself for that.
Kane in the post-match interview said we`ll take a 1-0. Just goes to show how concentrated the players are. The way he took the penalty sums him up, when the whole stadium was shaking with nerves, he didn`t feel any of them.
I like one-nils. It shows how efficient you are even when you`re not at your best. It irritates your rivals, it hurts them more than a resounding win. It almost always feels undeserved and then they start blaming luck. Continue winning and we might just start to upset Chelsea. There is nothing more annoying than a team with no chance just staying there hanging by the side. We certainly aren`t letting go of them. When all other managers have stated it`s difficult to catch Chelsea now, Poch has been calm saying we just need to keep winning games. We start with Liverpool next week, beat them and suddenly Chelsea are looking at a tough away trip to Burnley as a must win. But we need to show more than what we did today if we want to win against Liverpool. We need to stay with our belief that we can win title. And that`s just because we really can.