When was the last time we had such impressive back-to-back wins as we’ve just witnessed against Wolfsberger and Burnley?
Roy Keane would probably say it was the last time we faced such poor opposition in back-to-back games and cite Brentford* and Marine on 5th and 10th January, then smirk into his elk’s-backside of a beard while pointing out that the next time we faced not even half-decent opposition – that rearranged game against Fulham on the 13th January – we only managed a 1-1 draw.
Sadly, he would have a bit of a point. Unless I’m missing something, I think Brentford and Marine was the last time we won back-to-back games.
Still, these most recent two games have been more fun than anything we’ve witnessed for a while, and for all the snarking about Burnley being useless, that’s the first time they’ve conceded more than two goals since Man City beat them 5-0 at The Etihad way back in November (for the fourth consecutive time, weirdly, which I think is some sort of record) in a run that’s seen them beat Wolves, Liverpool (away), Villa, and our next opponents after today, Crystal Palace (0-3 in their last away game). They might have had injuries, but they’re not the fodder fools like Keane would have us believe, and they’ve just held Leicester to a 1-1 draw.
Also, even with injuries, Burnley are exactly the type of team we’ve so often struggled to put away in the recent past, only besting them by single goal margins at home in 14/15, 16/17, 18/19 and drawing with them in 17/18.
That’s four games across our peak Premier League years scraped by an aggregate of 6-3. We’ve just done them 9-0 across two.
Someone should give Jose Mourinho a pay rise and a contract extension. The man is a gift from the footballing gods of attacking abandon.
Depending on how other results go in this strange half of a match-week we’re not even participating in (we’ll be lining up at Wembley against City the weekend this fixture should have taken place, something Scott Parker will no doubt complain bitterly about, claiming Fulham were only told this game was going ahead yesterday tea-time) a win tonight could really see us back in top-four contention, three points off West Ham with Manchester United, Villa and Leicester having all dropped points and eagerly waiting to see if Sam Allardyce can mess up his old club Everton when they visit The Hawthorns this evening.
Not to mention what Liverpool and Chelsea might do to each other.
Only, of course, if we take care of our own business, and that’s possibly a bigger if than it should be, because so many times under Mourinho to date we’ve waited to see the team take an opportunity and instead had to retreat behind sofas and splayed fingers in impotent fury as they’ve missed chance after chance and then blown it.
Just about the only exception was the run between West Ham at home and Crystal Palace away, and each of these games which book-ended our improbable rise to the top of the table ended similar to our 1-1 at home against Fulham earlier this season, with infuriating peg-backs in games that were there for the taking.
At least with Bale coming into something like form and Mourinho starting to trust him we’re unlikely to see Sissoko asked to play on the right of our front three as he was in this one – with Bale as an unused sub in a game we only subbed twice in – and if Davinson Sanchez had played at the level he did against Burnley, he’d probably have won that challenge in the corner which led to Fulham’s equaliser.
I know Toby Alderweireld isn’t anywhere near the level he was back in 17/18 when Pochettino’s favored centre-back pairing was Vertonghen on the left and Sanchez on the right with Toby often benched for alleged crimes against contract extensions, but the Colombian looks such a better player on the right of Alderweireld compared to anywhere near Eric Dier, and the same can be said of Dier when he plays on the left of Alderweireld. I felt that display against Burnley was Sanchez’s strongest in ages: Although finding one and buying one is easier said than done, we could actually be a younger version of Alderweireld away from having a pretty decent back four.
Pochettino actually went with a combination of Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Sanchez the last time we visited Craven Cottage back on 20th January 2019. We’d just ripped Manchester United apart at Wembley and somehow lost 0-1, seen Harry Kane Phil Jonsed in the very last minute and then cursed Daniel Levy as we’d watched a hopelessly out of form Fernando Llorente lumber around from the off against Fulham before putting through his own net in the seventeenth minute.
In one of those games that just seemed impossible to look away from without ever feeling we’d get anything from it, Dele got an equaliser and then a hammy and had to be subbed in the 86th minute, and his much maligned and rarely relied upon replacement Georges-Kevin N’koudou put over a peach of a cross for Winks to win it for us at the death.
None of us would ever have believed it at the time, but we’d just witnessed Pochettino’s last ever Premier League away win with the club.
Injury woes aside, we’d probably all expected to win it as well, because outside of a completely bizarre 4-0 FA Cup 4th round hammering where used-Kane salesman Danny Murphy put two penalties past Heurelho Gomes within the first fifteen minutes back in January 2011, Craven Cottage has been a happy hunting ground for Tottenham of late, with Winks’ winner making it five out of five consecutive Premier League wins.
Revenging that 2011 elimination, we did them there 0-3 in the Fourth Round of the 16/17 FA Cup too.
For our last league defeat there, you have to go all the way back to November 2008, where Harry Redknapp lost a league game as Tottenham manager for the first ever time following that 4-4 against Arsenal and wins over Liverpool and Manchester City.
It must have also been the first game he decided to see what Gareth Bale was made of, as our one-time Bambi-like left-back was chosen ahead of Assou-Ekotto for his seventeenth winless league game with the club: It would be the following September and eight injury-plagued games later before he was finally subbed on for Aaron Lennon against Burnley with the score-line a nicely familiar 4-0.
But the year before that early Redknapp capitulation, Martin Jol’s Tottenham went to Craven Cottage and did this:
And for anyone with an hour to spend down memory lane, there’s fifty minutes of footage here from our visit to The Cottage during our sole season in the old Second Division in 1977-78.
I’m not so keen on John Craven’s yellow sunglasses, but I did always love that yellow kit. It was almost as garish as Mourinho naming Bale, Kane, Son, Moura, Ndombele, Aurier and Reguilon in the same starting eleven against Burnley.
Will he send out the same mad crazy seven to make it six out of six consecutive Premier League wins for us at Craven Cottage tonight?
It’s difficult to believe.
But I want it to be.
Come on you Spurs!
(*Roy Keane would not like to apologise to any Brentford fans whose feelings were hurt by this comment about Brentford being as useless as Burnley. He said it because he knows you sometimes come on here.)