Opinion: The five games that have shaped Tottenham’s season so far

Whilst it hasn’t been all smooth sailing at Tottenham this season, Ange Postecoglou and his team have brought back a positive feeling around the club, uniting a fractured club in need of direction.

The idea of a process and a project has been instilled into the players and fans, but that would be tougher to buy into if it wasn’t for some of the performances this Spurs side have produced this season. They may not all be positive, but here is a list of five games that have defined Spurs’ first season under Postecoglou.

Aston Villa
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5. Aston Villa 0-4 Tottenham

Whilst it is premature to suggest this game will shape Spurs’ season, it’s difficult to ignore the magnitude of the result. With how the season has progressed, getting into one of those Champions League spots has become a priority, and the match at Villa Park had the capacity to make that task a real long shot.

However, despite a cagey first half, Spurs delivered one of their premier showings of the season, scoring two quick goals early in the second half, and adding another two in added time following a John McGinn red card. The result on its own is a standout, but the team performance felt as good as Postecoglou’s side had produced all season.

The victory was clearly a big step for Spurs towards their top-four aim, with a loss having meant an eight-point gap to the Villa, whereas now it only sits at two with eleven games left to play. There are plenty of tough games to come, and Spurs need to carry this result and performance into their next run of games if they want to compete with Europe’s elite next season.

Newcastle United
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4. Tottenham 4-1 Newcastle

Granted this win came against a Newcastle side in a struggling period of form, but Spurs were on a five-game winless run heading into the game and had key players James Maddison and Micky Van de Ven missing for the foreseeable future.

However, following an emphatic four-goal display, Spurs won three of their next four and salvaged what was a plummeting campaign. It was a strong collective performance, but no doubt the keynote from the game was Richarlison’s brace, setting the Brazilian on a run of scoring nine in his next ten games.

The hot streak kept Spurs afloat in the December and January period and helped ease the growing pressure amongst the fan base on the £60 million striker (Sky Sports). The game itself also saw Destiny Udogie grab his first goal for the club, a great moment for the 21-year-old who has had a stellar first campaign.

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3. Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

The main media coverage post-game of Spurs beating Liverpool in September revolved around refereeing and the whole replay debacle. However, for Postecoglou’s side, getting three points with a last-minute winner (courtesy of Joel Matip) in what had become a ‘hoodoo fixture’ for Tottenham felt like a massive hill to overcome.

Spurs last beat Liverpool back in 2017 with a 4-1 win at Wembley, and most fans would be able to reel off the countless missed chances and mistakes in games against the Reds since.

But this time round it was different. Liverpool had a goal wrongly disallowed, two red cards, and an own goal in the last minute to top it all off. It felt that the tables had been turned in the fixture after those years of disappointment for Spurs fans.

Postecoglou was bold, substituting both Son and Maddison despite his team still needing a goal and trying to break down the nine men of Liverpool as they sat extremely deep. But just as they managed two weeks earlier against Sheffield United, Spurs found a way to get three points late on.

The win against Liverpool, as well as the draw at the Emirates the week before, left a statement that Spurs can compete with the elite once again.

Manchester United
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2. Tottenham 2-0 Manchester United

Postecoglou’s first home game as Tottenham manager was up against a Manchester United side that finished third last season and provided the opening test for fans to see where this newly constructed Spurs team stood.

After failing to win on the opening day at Brentford, talk of the Harry Kane-shaped hole grew and it’s fair to say very few were optimistic about Spurs’ chances this season.

However, after a relatively evenly contested first half, Postecoglou’s men put on a show for their fans. Playing the style of football that had been deprived of the club since the Pochettino days and gaining a massive three points laid down a marker of what to expect from the coming season.

Pape Matar Sarr scoring his first goal for the club, the new-look defence gaining their first clean sheet of the season, and a feel-good factor was instilled to move past the memories of Kane, Conte, and Mourinho.

The game set Postecoglou up perfectly to have the fans behind him and give him the time needed to construct a team that can compete at the very top.

Now as the season reaches the final stretch, those three points against the Red Devils could prove crucial as Spurs battle away for the chance to play Champions League football next season.

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1. Tottenham 1-4 Chelsea

Unfortunately, not the positive end to the list that Postecoglou and his team deserve credit for, but it is difficult to look past the game on the 6th of November as season-defining.

The spirit around the ground before kick-off hadn’t been that high for some years. Sitting top of the table after ten games, in which Spurs went unbeaten, and coming up against former fan favourite Pochettino and his struggling Chelsea side, it felt almost too good to be true.

A flying start courtesy of Dejan Kulusevski made the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium erupt. A second by captain Son after 15 minutes and Spurs fans were in dreamland, with the prospect of truly demolishing one of their most bitter rivals.

But after Sonny’s goal was disallowed, Spurs had one of the most catastrophic 20-minute stints of the season.

The Cristian Romero red card and penalty levelled the game and ruled the Argentine out of Spurs’ next three fixtures, before Micky Van de Ven and James Maddison left the pitch at the same time with injuries ruling them out for the next two months.

Ten minutes into the second half sees Destiny Udogie pick up a second yellow and leaves Spurs with nine men to play out 35 minutes plus added time.

Whilst Vicario and co held on for as long as possible, Chelsea found their way through the high line Postecoglou deployed and Nicolas Jackson grabbed a hat trick.

Fans applauding their Spurs team despite the ugly scoreline demonstrated the unity behind this new era at the club, however, the derailing of the Lilywhites’ form over the following month can only prove how much the game shaped Spurs’ season, with the resulting key absences being majorly felt.

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