Burnley extended their unbeaten run to eight games as they beat Spurs 2-1 at Turf Moor. It was a first return from injury for Harry Kane and whilst he scored a wonderful goal, questions will now be asked as to whether he was rushed back too early to help in Tottenham’s title charge.
Ashley Barnes scored his eighth league goal of the season in a memorable game for the Clarets which takes them to six points clear of the relegation zone and almost certainly safe from the drop. Spurs were very much the better team in a largely uneventful first half yett was Burnley who took the lead through Chris Wood as he flicked on Dwight Mcneil’s corner for his fourth goal in as many games.
Harry Kane scored the equaliser for Spurs in his first appearance since January 13th. He brought down Danny Rose’s throw-in and squeezed it past Tom Heaton in the Burnley net. Just as it looked like Spurs might finally draw a game this season, Ashley Barnes popped up to secure the win for Burnley.
Spurs are now five points behind Liverpool in second, having played a game more with Burnley rising all the way to 13th thanks to the victory.
Are Spurs out of the title race?
They may have always been outside contenders but it now seems that Spurs are out the title race.
They are five points behind Manchester City and Liverpool and have played one more game than Liverpool until they meet Manchester United in Sunday’s Sky Sports fixture.
Pochettino himself said in his post-match interview: “We never had the game under control, we can beat Chelsea or Arsenal but to make history you have to win this type of game. Burnley were better than us and I am massively disappointed because we wanted to put pressure on the teams above us.”
He is right that this is the sort of game which any genuine title contender will need to be winning. This might also open up questions as to the squad which Pochettino is working with; they got on remarkably well without Kane but as the games start piling up they will need better cover for him.
In this match, Llorente and Lucas Moura were brought on as Spurs tried to seal at least a draw and although these are not bad players by any stretch of the imagination it has to be asked whether the calibre of substitutes which can win you a title? Probably not.
You just have to look at the benches of Manchester City, Liverpool or even Manchester United to see that Spurs fall short. It must be caveated that Pochettino has done nothing short of a remarkable job in his time in North London and what he has achieved with minimal financial backing is truly a great achievement.
However, if Spurs really do want to seriously challenge for the Premier League then Daniel Levy may have to put his hands a little deeper inside his pockets.
Burnley’s emphatic recent form goes on
Burnley are now one of the two unbeaten sides in the Premier League in 2019 – alongside Manchester United.
This run has seen them take points off Spurs, Manchester United and fellow relegation rivals Brighton and Fulham. Things were looking bleak for Burnley and Dyche at the start of the season yet he has turned things round dramatically and they now look like a match for anyone once again. They may be far off finishing seventh again but at this point, Dyche will be perfectly happy with anything which is above 18th.
Southgate’s food for thought
The England manager was in the stands at Turf Moor on Saturday and would have had a lot to take away from this match. First and foremost it is always encouraging to see Harry Kane score from an England perspective and the assist for his goal was registered by Danny Rose following his throw-in. Rose has not always been an automatic pick for England or Spurs recently and whilst his game still needs improvement this sort of performance will only stand him in good stead.
On the other side of the pitch, Tom Heaton excelled once again. He has been a Goliath between the sticks for Burnley since returning from injury and with Jordan Pickford not looking at his best it would not be a surprise to see Gareth Southgate call on him for his next squad.
As an outside choice, Burnley’s teenage midfielder Dwight McNeill has been more than impressive recently. He may still be only 19 and has no international experience so perhaps a call up to the under 21s might be more likely but if Southgate wants to blood fresh talent than McNeill is as good as any.
Mike Dean steals the show (almost)
It’s Mike Dean’s world and we’re just living in it. The much parodied referee (who is actually one of the best in the business) has been on 99 red cards for what feels like forever now.
There has been much speculation as to the where, why and how Dean’s 100th red would occur and Juan Foyth almost gave him the perfect opportunity to brand it. The Spurs player jumped in two footed but brought his feet down at the last second to avoid what would have certainly been a straight red.
Pochettino had to be restrained by Phil Bardsley at the full-time whistle as the Argentine manager angrily confronted Mike Dean over a number of decision which went against Spurs namely the corner which led to Burnley’s breakthrough.
It was almost alarming to see the normal icy Pochettino lose his temper like that and it seems that the pressure is getting to him as he consistently overachieves with his squad. Pochettino quickly came out and ratified the situation, up to a point. He said: “We made mistakes on the pitch and I made one at the end. I needed to calm down, I wanted to find someone to blame, because we cannot think now of being a real contender.”
It will be interesting to see whether Pochettino faces any further action from the FA over his reaction. The last thing which Spurs need now is a touch line ban for their manager. The real story however is back with Mike Dean. We will have to wait and see when his 100th red will finally be flourished by that iconic straight arm. A true servant of the game and one which will hopefully continue for at least another 99 red cards.