With the season coming to a close, Tottenham Hotspur were still within reach of European football, and were hoping to give their supporters a positive sendoff in their final home match of the season. Ryan Mason made a few surprising changes to the starting XI, with a shift to a back four and surprise starts for Yves Bissouma, Arnaut Danjuma, and Davinson Sanchez. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cristian Romero dropped out of the squad completely, presumably due to injury.
Tottenham looked promising from the off, and it was the Lilywhites who took the early lead. Oliver Skipp was clattered in a late challenge outside the Brentford box and the referee awarded a free kick. Perhaps to the chagrin of many a Tottenham supporter, it was Harry Kane who stepped up, but after many failed attempts over the years this one was a stunner. Dejan Kulusevski played a neat little backheel to fool the defense and give the ball a bit of movement, and Kane ran forward and absolutely slammed it into the top corner. It was an unstoppable strike, and the home crowd were in raptures.
Mason had Tottenham purring, and apart from a half-chance for Brentford after some confusion between Davinson Sanchez and Emerson Royal down the right, the play was all Spurs, with chance after chance. Son had a scuffed effort on the break, Royal had a header blocked on the line, Danjuma had a header sail narrowly wide, Son’s curled effort was blocked by Ben Mee, and a Deki chance from the left was well saved by Spurs-linked David Raya. The fans would have been satisfied going into the half with the play they’d seen, but the team would have likely been disappointed to have not increased the lead further.
Sure enough, Brentford managed to equalize early in the second half. Clement Lenglet was caught in no-man’s land, challenging Yoanne Wissa for an in-field pass at the top of the box. Wissa beat the Frenchman to the ball before laying off to Bryan Mbeumo, who cut inside Ben Davies and stroked it past Fraser Forster all too easily.
It was soon Bryan Mbeumo at the double to put Brentford into the lead. A long ball to Kane was challenged in the middle of the park, and though the England captain looked for a foul, the referee adjudged Brentford had won the ball fairly and the Bees looked to break quickly. Aaron Hickey played a raking ball forward between Lenglet and Davies, and Mbeumo raced in behind before finishing easily past Forster, who got nowhere near the ball.
Mbeumo was again involved as Brentford took their third. Oliver Skipp took an awful touch, then tried to dribble his way past three opposition players just outside his own box. Mbeumo won the ball before playing in Wissa to take the lead to two goals and leave Spurs shellshocked.
Mason threw on attackers to try and save the match, with a final home appearance by Lucas Moura off the bench as well as cameos from Pedro Porro, Ivan Perisic, and Richarlison. Tottenham pressed forward but were unable to make their way back into the match. Raya made a fantastic double save against Richarlison, and that was that for the match as Brentford took their first ever win away at Tottenham 3-1.
- That was fun! Until it wasn’t.
- The first half was probably the best half of football Tottenham had played in some time. Fun, free-flowing, positive. There were some real Pochettino vibes going on, and I was loving what I was watching.
- That all changed after half-time. Thomas Frank made a number of changes in terms of both tactics and setup; Brentford pressed higher, and with more width, preventing the fullback outlets seen in the first half, and really forced our midfield to progress the ball (which they couldn’t).
- Speaking of which - not only was the match one of two halves, it was one of two midfielders as well. Yves Bissouma was phenomenal in the first half, and it was telling Brentford only found their way back into the match as he tired in the second period. Oliver Skipp on the other hand was anonymous in the first and actively harmful in the second, giving no support to Bissouma in trying to move the ball up the pitch and almost single-handedly culpable for Brentford’s third.
- Fraser Forster... man. I don’t know if he SHOULD be saving either of the first two goals, but it sure felt that at least he should have got a bit closer.
- Harry Kane... what else is there to say? Yet another incredible goal, and this COULD have been his final match today at Tottenham in white.
- Spurs are now at very real risk of missing out on Europe. Regardless of your feelings around the Conference League, the squad right now is far too bloated NOT to be in Europe, and European football also adds some vital cash to the coffers. It remains to be seen if Tottenham can still scrape in.