Following the craziness of midweek, with the transfer window coming to a close and Tottenham Hotspur crashing out of the Insert-Sponsor-Name-Here Cup™, it was a hopefully routine away trip to Turf Moor that followed on the calendar. Vincent Kompany’s promoted team, who absolutely dominated the Championship last season, were a different proposition to the dour claret and blue sides of recent years, and as a result the match-up promised exciting, aggressive football.
After making nine changes midweek, Ange Postecoglou reverted to a similar lineup to the previous league fixture against Bournemouth, making a single change from the 2-0 away win. Richarlison, who’d struggled to get going so far this season, was the unlucky man, and despite a goal in midweek he could only make the bench. Manor Solomon was promoted to the starting XI in what was his first league start, with Heung-Min Son taking up striker duties to accommodate the new signing from Shakhtar Donetsk on the left.
After Solomon botched an early Spurs break, it was Burnley to strike first. Sander Berge played in Luca Koleosho down the left, and Pedro Porro’s defensive deficiencies were to the fore as the Spanish fullback was turned inside and out by Burnley’s left winger. Koleosho breezed past Porro before cutting back to Lyle Foster on the edge of the six-yard box who swept home. It was a very Tottenham-esque goal, but instead it was the home side who were a goal to the good.
Solomon had another chance soon after, as some effective pressing allowed him to nick the ball from Burnley fullback Ameen Al Dakhil. After driving into the box though, he opted to shoot from a tight angle rather than cut back to a number of teammates who were queueing up in the box.
Porro and Solomon soon made up for their earlier errors of judgement. A fantastic long ball forward over the top from Porro found Son running in behind. He played the ball to Solomon, who hesitated and seemed to lose his chance, before the Israeli winger played a fantastic return pass to put his captain into space on the right. Son waited for the goalkeeper to come out before chipping him with a sumptuous finish to even the scoreline at 1-1.
Both teams were pressing high, trying to pounce on the ball in an effort to create quick breaks. As a result, both teams had issues playing out under the opposition pressure early, with a number of chances coming from dangerous turnovers. The increased pressure meant fouls too, with players clattering into one another on a number of occasions. Dejan Kulusevski especially was the recipient of a few dubious interventions, but it was a Tottenham player who went into the book first, with Pape Matar Sarr receiving a yellow for rolling the ball away after committing a foul.
The press continued to pay dividends for Spurs, with the ball falling to James Maddison outside the Burnley box, before he had a second attempt somewhat closer to goal that could only ricochet into the arms of the keeper. Maddison went close again soon after, as he played a one-two with Sarr, before unleashing a curler from just outside the 18-yard box. James Trafford threw himself to the left to make the save, but it felt like Tottenham were the team that were starting to look the more dangerous and that the Spurs attackers were potentially just warming up.
Kulusevski was soon the second player to receive a caution, after a pullback to prevent a Burnley attack. The resultant set piece looked extremely dangerous, but the Lilywhites cleared under pressure. The cautions kept coming as the referee booked Johann Gudmundsson after clattering Maddison late. Destiny Udogie was caught in a heavy tackle soon after that was perhaps also worthy of a card, but Spurs had to settle for a freekick. Cristian Romero tried to head Maddison’s resultant set piece back across the box, but Trafford claimed the loose ball.
It was Cuti’s name up in lights soon after though. The ball broke to the Argentine following a goalbox scramble, and Romero unleased an absolute rocket of a shot right to the top corner. It was an incredible strike, and a fantastic way for Spurs to hit the lead just before halftime. VAR spent a lengthy period of time checking all manner of things, but the goal stood. Spurs weren’t done there either, with Maddison going down with a penalty shout following a quick break, but the referee waved away the claims and a pulsating half came to a close with the scoreline 2-1 to Tottenham.
Burnley made a double change at half-time in an attempt to get back into the match. Hannes Delcroix and Josh Brownhill came on for Berge and Gudmundsson in an apparent formation shift to a back three. The changes didn’t appear to help Burnley, however, as Spurs looked extremely dangerous on the attack almost immediately, generating several early chances. The best of these came on the break, as Kulusevski played Son in behind. The Korean would have been one-on-one with the keeper, but took a heavy touch and the chance was wasted as Trafford recovered possession.
It was the press that soon played creator again, as Tottenham added a third. Udogie won the ball high up the pitch before squaring to Maddison outside the 18-yard box. The high turnover meant the Burnley defense was completely out of position, and Spurs’ new number 10 opened up his body and struck powerfully from the top of the box to drive home.
Burnley weren’t taking this lying down, however, as they soon had a huge chance of their own. Lyle Foster ran into acres of space behind Mickey Van de Ven, and looked as if he would have a clear run through on goal. Romero, though, managed to track Foster’s run, doing a fantastic job of marshalling him just wide enough to make any attempt difficult. Foster still got the shot off, and it momentarily looked like a ricochet off the shin of Romero might cause it to loop over Guglielmo Vicario into the goal, but the Italian made a brilliantly acrobatic save to keep Burnley out.
Tottenham were rampant and weren’t happy to settle for just three goals, soon adding more to their tally. Van de Ven started the move, shrugging off the attention of the Burnley press. The ball made its way to Udogie, who squared beautifully to Solomon driving forward in space. The winger made his way into the box before teeing up Son, who gleefully slotted the ball home, and he wasn’t done there. The hat-trick soon followed for Tottenham’s captain, as Pedro Porro chipped a ball over the top to Son running in behind. He struck a simple finish past Trafford before celebrating in front of the applauding fans as Spurs took a 5-1 lead.
Postecoglou soon made a few substitutions to keep things fresh. Ivan Perisic came in for Solomon and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg entered the fray for Sarr, before a third change soon followed: Son got a deserved rest as Richarlison got another chance in the striker position. The match plateaued somewhat from there, with Burnley continuing to attempt to overturn the deficit. Hojbjerg was the next Spurs player to be carded, as he committed a foul just outside Tottenham’s goalbox. The wall did its job, blocking the free kick, and the margin remained at four.
Oliver Skipp and Emerson Royal were the next squad members to see the pitch as Ange looked to close out the match. Kulusevski made way, as did Maddison, who got a well-deserved rest. Spurs continued to keep up the pressure though, and could have had a penalty as Hojbjerg broke into the box. VAR opted not to intervene, however, and there was an argument that had the Dane kept his feet, he would have had a huge chance regardless of the interference by the Burnley defense.
Burnley never stopped fighting and eventually managed a late consolation. A lovely one-two between Brownhill and Josh Cullen at the top of the Spurs box found Brownhill running into space behind the defensive line. Van de Ven did his best to throw himself in front of the chance, but Brownhill finished well, knocking the ball past Vicario into the right-hand side of the goal. Following that, there wasn’t much time to add to either side’s scores, and the match concluded with Spurs 5-2 victors.
- My goodness, what a match. Ange-ball 4 lyf, yo.
- Seriously, as I was writing this report it was a struggle to keep up in the second half, so much was happening. Spurs had some momentary struggles early on, but from then completely owned the match.
- That was somewhat due to some tactical tweaks Ange made partway through that first half. There were a couple of subtle changes, but one of those was in Spurs’ press. Early on, the Tottenham center backs were dropping off as Burnley looked to push forward, often creating too much space between the midfield and defensive line for Burnley to attack. Ange obviously spotted this, and Cuti and Mickey began to be much more aggressive in their positioning. From there, Burnley often struggled to get out of their half.
- So many of the thoughts I had in this match were undone by events later in the game: Porro got burned on the first goal but had some lovely contributions on a couple of the goals; Son early on looked to struggle with some of the hold-up aspects of his striker role but then caught on fire; and Manor Solomon looked incapable of completing a pass longer than six yards but ended up with two assists.
- Speaking of Son - the attack flowed so well today, and Sonny really looked at home making those early runs in behind. It’s possible Richy sees a lot more bench time from here on out.
- Cuti’s goal was a THUNDERBOLT, and Son’s first was such a nice finish. This match was seriously loaded with great goals, and a joy to watch.
- Maddison and Udogie were phenomenal once again. Both have been incredible business for Spurs.
- International break time now, unfortunately, before Spurs host Sheffield United.