Tottenham Hotspur put together an excellent first half of football at White Hart Lane on Saturday and held on through some second half doldrums to beat Burnley 2-1. The win is Spurs' third consecutive victory, including the League Cup, and puts them in a great position in the table as they head into the congested holiday fixture period.
The first half was remarkably open and fun, with both sides getting up and down the pitch in a hurry, looking for opportunities. Burnley looked intent on going straight at Spurs in the early goings instead of parking men behind the ball and soaking up pressure.
Spurs capitalized on this open style of play as Harry Kane headed in Tottenham's opener in the 21st minute off of a cross from Nacer Chadli. The goal was created off of a fast restart after a foul, which caught Burnley napping. The goal was Kane's 14th goal in all competitions... and it's not even Christmas yet. Kane came inches away from bagging another one a few minutes later as a free ball came skidding across Burnley's goal, but the striker couldn't get his toe on it.
Burnley didn't waste time in finding an equalizer. Ashley Barnes found himself open just outside of Spurs' box soon after and curled in an absolutely gorgeous shot that found the top right corner. There was nothing Hugo Lloris could do about it – it was a brilliant individual effort.
And then, in the 36th minute, Erik Lamela, who had an absolutely wonderful match for Spurs, curled in his own gorgeous shot to make it 2-1 Spurs. It was Lamela's first career Premier League goal, and it was a beauty.
Things slowed down significantly in the second half as both teams seemed content to play a possession game instead of the free-flowing back and forth play of the first half. Both teams had their chances; Spurs had about ten brain-dead minutes around the 55th minute that gifted Burnley a few chances, and Spurs also had a few opportunities to put in a third. Ultimately, Spurs were happy just to play out the match. The final score was 2-1.
- This was by far the best game I've seen Erik Lamela play in the Premier League this season. While not a rabona, his goal was magnificent and his play today reminded me a lot of a certain Welshman we used to have kicking the ball around here a couple of years ago.
- Christian Eriksen's passing is so, so smooth. He's amazing, and while he didn't get on the scoring sheet he made so many things happen in this match.
- While Federico Fazio didn't have a terrible match, I was once again cognizant of just how slow he really is, especially when the back line presses high. Danny Ings nearly got by him a number of times in this match. He coped well enough, but it still scared me half to death.
- Nacer Chadli was pretty much invisible for most of the match apart from his assist to Kane's goal. I'm not sure why Poche had him playing centrally for good portions of the second half but it didn't seem to work. If Nacer's not scoring, he's not contributing much.
- I'm sad about Ryan Mason's injury and hope he's okay, but I'm not sad that it forced the team into a Stambouli-Bentaleb midfield. This, right now, is our best central midfield pairing.
- Spurs had some real opportunities to finish this game off but seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half. I'm undecided if it was a collective team mentality or if this was more puzzling game management decisions from Pochettino, but I spent the last ten minutes of the match terrified that Burnley were going to equalize.
- This win puts us in sixth place,
two pointsone point ahead of Arsenal, though Arsenal plays Liverpool tomorrow.
- Everything is just much, much better when Spurs win.