- Attendance 41,219
Match Report by John Ellis at Wembley
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Newcastle United
David Letterman became a legend of The Late Show – this Tottenham side seem determined to emulate him!
And in so doing, boy do they put us fans through the wringer!
Can we though dare to dream this team might yet become legends of their own in this most unlikely of seasons?
Late goals in our last three Champions League fixtures versus Inter, PSV and Barcelona propelled us from what seemed a virtually impossible position in to the knock out stages of the tournament.
Recent late goals in the Premier League versus Burnley, Fulham, Watford and again today against Newcastle have not only turned four points into twelve points but also catapulted us into second place … Just four points off the top of the Premier League. Yes it is still a massive ask but this team have built such an inner strength virtually anything seems possible.
The media firstly said the not signing of new players in the Summer window would lead to us being left behind. When the season started, the impact on the late return to pre-season after the World Cup would hurt us. Then we heard the uncertainties around the new stadium would impact on the players and results. After it was said whilst the first eleven is strong, the squad wouldn’t be strong enough to cope with the number of injuries faced. An injury to Kane would be catastrophic as we are basically a one man team. Then we would struggle to cope with the disruption of our manager likely leaving at the end of the season as it would of course be impossible for Pochettino to turn down Manchester United to stay at Spurs. Further scorn came at letting players go in the January transfer window and again not bringing anyone in.
Throughout the season, we have been literally invisible to the media when discussing the title race and most likely we would not even finish in the top four.
Except for the occasional comment, the media have belittled Tottenham.
It matters not a jot, no matter what is thrown at them, this team has developed an inner confidence and resilience to conquer all adversities.
And long may it continue…
This team easily has the best away record in the Premier League and that is not including the away games played at “home”.
Today Newcastle set out their stall to defend deep and in numbers. Benitez set them up well. Son was identified as the danger man and every time he received the ball, three men were at him. It was only the introduction of Llorente which created a little extra space for Son to get a shot in on goal. The footballing gods looked down kindly on Spurs and the ball squirmed through the keeper’s legs and into the net for a joyous celebration on the pitch and in the stands!
Benitez tried everything to unsettle Spurs and even had us kicking the opposite way in the first half for the first time this season.
Despite Newcastle’s strong defensive performance, Spurs created a number of chances but could not convert them into goals.
Moura had a glorious early chance but put his header wide, Lamela forced the ball goal wards but against the crossbar, Sissoko had a good first time effort thwarted off a corner.
The second half continued in the same vein. Sanchez had a free header which sailed high and wide, two efforts were cleared off the line, Llorente headed wide of the target from a good position and after the deadlock had been broken, missed an open goal.
On the occasions Newcastle did venture out of their own half and roared on by their fanatical support, the Spurs defence looked fragile and none more so than when Rondon all too easily headed against the post. Lloris was also called upon to make a fine diving save. There were as well a couple of opportunities created in the first half which could have brought a goal.
Until Llorente came on Spurs played a lot of intricate passing which created space down the flanks but with no height in the box, there wasn’t a focal point to aim a cross towards and the ball often ended up being played back inside. Vertonghen in a left back position though did get forwards and put in some good threatening crosses including a number of first time low volleys.
And so the game went into added time with Spurs doing their utmost to defend a precious one goal lead. It was a nervy four minutes of added time before the final whistle blew to relief all round. Spurs had got the job done.
Three Premier League wins in a row and with Ironman Kane showing signs of a rapid recovery as well as Dele seemingly being close to a return, may be just may be Spurs will be well set for the run in.
The luxury of eight days until the next game and then after the Dortmund match, a further 10 days before the next Premier League game suggests the squad will finally have some time to recuperate and recover from the intense December and January programme.
Christian Eriksen for one is in need of a break.