We leave it late

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

I’m past the point of caring what Alan Shearer or Gary Neville or Paul Merson think about Spurs. All I know is that in a two day spell when the two teams ahead of us in the table a) lost to one of the poorest sides in the league and b) only drew at home against a midtable side, and the two teams we are supposed to be most concerned about in terms of Top Four placement a) were stomped on the South Coast and b) barely drew at home against a side still threatened by relegation—our lads came back in what could have been a frustrating cold evening at Wembley and won a crucial three points. They underscored Poch’s point—the Mickey Mouse Cups are so less important than finishing Top Four and building a squad able to progress in Europe year after year. And now we trail the supposed invincible Manchester City by just two points, and we have 7 or 9 point advantages over our more well-heeled pursuers.

As for the game, it will be the one contest I will attend in the person this season. For an hour and fifteen minutes it was a typically frustrating evening—Lloris made a critical error allowing Watford score, and our attack was simply a little out of synch, a little unlucky and seeming, without Kane or Dele, toothless, incapable of scoring. Until we weren’t.

Fernando Llorente who, despite two prominent misses and an occasional layoff misfire or two, had generally played well, gained control, saw Son to his left and the South Korean was never going to miss with his lethal left foot. Then, soon after the shocking Bournemouth score over Chelsea was flashed to the Wembley crowd, MOTM Danny Rose lifted another of seemingly a dozen crosses, this time gaining enough lift to find the Spaniard for a wonderfully targeted header across the net and into the left corner. His celebration with Poch said it all—everybody doubts me except my manager and myself, but tonight I was king.

And he was. Kudos not just to Rose but Harry Winks who grew into the game, as did Davinson Sanchez—Son was active throughout as was Lucas coming on at the half, Sissoko was typically imposing and effective. The one Spur who disappointed throughout was Eriksen, who despite whacking a free kick off the post, failed time and again to deliver crosses into the box and a waiting Llorente— several times hitting the ball so low it was easily parried away by the Watford defence.

Newcastle this weekend and Leicester the next (on the eve of the Dortmund opening leg) will hardly be gimmes—they each gained results against the two leaders, after all. But this team perseveres—not every night, but most. They didn’t play badly tonight even when behind—and they kept at it and eventually the goals came. Despite all the negativity, when the world wakes up tomorrow morning, they will see Spurs firmly ensconced in third place—closer to second than fourth and as close to first as sixth. I doubt help is coming in the next 24 hours—but today help was named Rose and Son and Llorente.

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