Spurs opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation that had Davies as a left centerback with a pivot of Moussa Sissoko and Oliver Skipp being called up from the youth ranks to play the six. With concerns over players missing out (Dier out with a virus and Jan nursing a thigh injury), the early going of the match didn’t really miss a beat. Spurs controlled the possession in the first twenty minutes of play at a 75% clip, but the first threats came from Burnley as they forced a couple of corners that ultimately led to nothing. Spurs’ first chance came in the 18th minute on a long ball for a streaking Lucas. He tried to do a one-time flip over Joe Hart and did beat the former England #1, but his shot was just wide of the mark.
Spurs put the pressure on going into the 25th minute. Kieran Trippier played a lovely ball on a through pass after a penalty shout was denied. Moussa Sissoko, playing the “I’ll run wherever the hell I’m needed” role today and doing it well, played the ball back to the penalty spot. It was inch perfect to Lucas, but he simply could not pull the trigger. The chance ended with a clearance after that.
In the 30th minute, after a quick restart, Spurs got free on the break. Dele fed a ball to Kane, who fired it across the pitch to Sissoko. The French International picked out Lamela in the box to put him on net. Unfortunately, his first touch was a little heavy and he was left with trying to poke the ball low past Hart. Hart was up for the challenge and made the save to snuff out another dangerous opportunity. The rest of the half was much of the same with Spurs being unable to get the opening goal.
“Same song, different verse” was the theme for the first fifteen minutes of the second half. Again, Spurs controlled the bulk of the possession but just could not unlock Burnley, who were perfectly happy to play eleven behind the ball and basically pray for a counterattack. The only real possession Burnley had going to the 65th minute were two free kicks where they spent approximately 12 minutes (citation needed) setting up their set pieces. Finally, Brady got carded for their obvious time wasting.
Pochettino called upon Christian Eriksen to spell Lucas Moura in the 65th minute to try and break open the Burnley defense. It took no time for him to settle in though Spurs had a hard time finding a way to get him the ball since Burnley decided to put two defenders on him instantly.
A huge chance for Spurs came in the 74th minute when a cross into the box just missed Kane’s head but fell to Erik Lamela. The Argentine was robbed by Hart on a diving save. Kane had a chance to hammer in the rebound but his attempt was wide...and he was called for a foul. Burnley survived yet again, and it was starting to look like one of those matches where nothing was going to work.
Spurs made their final subs by bringing on Heung-Min Son and Fernando Llorente, essentially throwing caution into the wind and playing with every attacker available. Burnley continued to do every possible thing to waste time. Spurs made another break on the counter in the 85th minute with a deflected ball falling to Sonny. He pulled his shot wide of the post, though, leaving the score 0-0.
Just when it looked like Spurs were going to have their first draw in EPL play, the winner finally came. Dele played a ball perfectly off his chest to Harry Kane and ate a huge foul in the process. Kane smoothly fed Eriksen, who was free on the left flank. The Great Dane opened his hips and coolly curled the ball past Hart to give Spurs a much deserved lead.
Suddenly, Burnley felt like playing and not time wasting. They subbed on Vokes for Lennon in the 93rd minute in an effort to make themselves as slow as possible (achievement unlocked) at a time they needed to push Spurs. Tottenham gave them a little bit of their own medicine, booting the ball into the 15th row as an effort to kill some time. They basically played long ball and let Burnley shoot themselves in the foot. It was good enough for three points, the match ending 1-0.
Thoughts on the Match
- Three points are three points, no matter how you slice it. That match was damned ugly thanks to Burnley deciding not to play any semblance of an attack.
- The NBC announcers saying at the end that Burnley were unlucky is the funniest thing I’ll hear today.
- I, for one, will always worship at the Temple of the Great Dane. Bless you, Christian Eriksen.
- How about Oliver Skipp? He needed a few minutes to settle down but I thought he was solid at the six for most of the match.
- Another day, another Moussa Sissoko performance I have to rave about. This role he’s playing where he starts at the eight and basically runs anywhere on the right flank is working and he seems to enjoy it. I’m also convinced that his battery never runs out.
- The xG map for this match is going to be hilarious.
- Enough snark from me. We won! 39 points through 17 matches is incredible and still the club’s best ever start in the Premier League.