Tottenham Hotspur and the importance of winning ugly

Date published: Wednesday 26th April 2017 10:39

Tottenham: Pushing Chelsea all the way

Although they snuck past Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night, they reached a record total.

The most points Spurs had amassed in a Premier League season is 72, while the win against the Eagles moved them on to 74.

They managed those 72 points under Andre Villas Boas in the 2012-13 season, before funnily enough starting a season of optimism in 2013-14 with a 1-0 win at Palace on the opening day.

The win over Palace was their ninth by one-goal this campaign, with the others coming against Burnley, Middlesbrough (x2), Sunderland, Everton, West Ham, Southampton and Palace again.

The record will not matter to Mauricio Pochettino though; the Argentine will have had his sights set on just picking up three more points to keep up the pressure on leaders Chelsea.

It’s tough to see how Spurs are in second place based on their record; they’ve lost just three games all season, winning 22 of 33 thus far and making league-leaders Chelsea look very average when the two sides met in January.

That said, it is also fairly easy to pick out the moments that could cause Spurs heartache. They did lose 2-1 at Chelsea earlier in the season, 1-0 at Manchester United and 2-0 at Liverpool. They also failed to beat Leicester at home, Bournemouth, West Brom and Sunderland which, with respect, a champion probably should.

Christian Eriksen: Scores winner for Spurs

Spurs finished third last season with 70 points, so moving past that marker is a big indication of the progress being made by Pochettino, even if they feel further away in this title race than they did a year ago.

They have also scored the same amount after 33 games (69 goals) as they managed in 38 last season, and have conceded just 22 all season, having let in 35 last season.

The aforementioned dropped points (of which there are not many) will be the reason Spurs don’t get the big prize, which is a testament to how dominant Chelsea have been over the course of this season.

The trip to Crystal Palace presented a tricky situation for Tottenham, who could have gone all out for the opener early and tried to kill the game, but risk counter, or they could have respected Sam Allardyce’s side a bit more and waited for their chance.

In true Pochettino style, they went for the jugular, but it took 78 minutes to break the deadlock as a long-range drive from Christian Eriksen ensured they remain four points behind leaders Chelsea.

“It’s one of my most important goals,” Eriksen told Sky Sports 1. “It meant a lot.

“We struggled in some parts of the game and didn’t have many big chances but luckily we scored a half-chance.”

Eriksen’s tone hinted at a sense of relief in the Spurs camp that it wasn’t a situation like West Brom or Sunderland away where they were expected to take the points but never put the ball in the back of the next.

A defeat in the FA Cup semi-final against rivals Chelsea is one which could have demonstrated that Spurs are done and that the fight is over, but they bounced back the only way they could.

“We knew we had to bounce back and what a performance. It was a perfect win in the end,” Harry Kane told the cameras after the game.

A perfect win isn’t always a pretty win. The best teams find a way to win ugly, and the night at Selhurst Park was as good an indication as any that Spurs are looking for the formula to do just that.

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