It’s safe to say that Fernando Llorente hasn’t had quite the impact on Tottenham Hotspur’s squad that many fans expected after a high-scoring season with Swansea in 2016-17. However, after Harry Kane went down with ankle ligament damage, Mauricio Pochettino called upon the experienced Spanish striker to help lead the line in Kane’s absence, and Llorente came through on Wednesday, scoring the match winner in a 2-1 come-from-behind Premier League win over Watford.
After the match, Llorente called the goal a gift to Pochettino for his faith in him.
“It’s probably the most important goal I’ve scored here at Tottenham. It was my dream. When you dream of days like this and finally it happens, it’s amazing. It’s really difficult because Harry’s one of the best in the world. The most difficult thing is to [stay] fit when you don’t play, because the only way to be fit is to play 90 minutes. Now I feel every game I feel much better.
“I went crazy [after the goal], I don’t know why. When the manager has confidence in you, it’s everything. The same player with confidence can do a lot of things and make a massive difference compared to when he hasn’t got it.
“[Pochettino is] massively important. I think I needed it, in this moment, to get confidence and to do my best. It’s difficult because in all my career I always played. I’m a player who feels really good when I play but it’s really difficult when you don’t -- mentally, everything.
”You have to work a lot and be ready and believe in that moment. [The goal] was a gift to him [Pochettino], a gift to the supporters and to all the team because we deserved the win.”
It was certainly one of Llorente’s better matches in a Tottenham shirt. While he missed a couple of sitters, his hold-up play was very good, he had a couple of nice turns in possession, and a lovely through ball to Jan Vertonghen that might have been a goal on another day.
With Kane and Dele Alli out likely until March, Tottenham will need more contributions like that in order to keep the pressure on Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the table, and to maintain their healthy lead over the chasing pack for top four.