Ashley Barnes Puts Brakes on Spurs Title Push

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur is challenged by James Tarkowski of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on February 23, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

After a poor start to the season, Burnley came into the game against Tottenham with 18 points from their last 8 games. Tottenham were brimming with confidence after outclassing Borussia Dortmund and looked to close the gap with Manchester City and Liverpool to just 2 points.

Tottenham had a lot of possession but looked like they were still on their break as Burnley and Ashley Barnes holted their title challenge.

Spurs Title Push Hits the Skids

Harry Kane returned from injury although it was a surprise to see him start with games against Chelsea away and the North London Derby coming up over the next seven days. Juan Foyth started at the back after a controlled performance against Dortmund alongside Jan Vertonghen, back in his normal centre back berth. Serge Aurier and Danny Rose filled the wing back positions. Tottenham dominated the possession with 71%, but the football was slow and ineffective. Burnley had plenty back behind the ball and launched the ball forward at every chance. The Spurs defence couldn’t get to grips with the long ball and it was consequently surprising that they never changed the back line to combat what was a simple tactic.

Juan Foyth showed signs again of his confidence on the ball but his positioning and all round defensive game need to improve considerably. He certainly isn’t ready to replace Toby Alderweireld as a starting centre back.

Tottenham’s Set Piece Woe

Pochetinno is spoilt for choice when choosing set piece takers with Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Aurier, Winks, Kane available. All of these players have the ability to deliver a stellar dead ball yet too many times this season they have failed to take advantage of set pieces and crosses. Danny Rose couldn’t get a cross off the floor in this game and his passing was simply not good enough. Eriksen seems to have forgotten how to take a free kick and corners seem to struggle to reach a Spurs player if they do get off the ground. It is no wonder, on this performance that Jan Vertonghen might just be Spurs’ best left back.

The Case for the Defence

Some of the defending from Tottenham was nothing short of shambolic. Chris Wood had far too much time and was unchallenged as he gave Burnley the lead with their first shot on target in the game. Juan Foyth was totally out of position and largely responsible for this goal.

The goal that turned out to be the winner after Kane had got Spurs back into the game, was again, a case of the Spurs back line making simple defensive errors. Ashley Barnes gladly accepted the gift to score the winner whilst, Serge Aurier looks like an expensive mistake every time he plays.

Mike Dean Continues to Want Attention

Mike Dean eccentric personality was on display yet again. His over the top expressions have become stuff of legend and a giddy internet meme. The problem today was that the focus came onto him for some poor decisions. In fairness to Mike Dean, the corner given that led to Burnley’s first goal, should have been dealt with by the assistants. Nonetheless it should have been a goal kick and it got Pochettino raving. It is not often Pochettino loses his temper but at full time he gave it to the referee both barrels. Mike Dean got it totally wrong though in the 72nd minute. Phil Bardsley took out Danny Rose with a high and wild challenge, worthy of a red card. Dean only showed yellow adding to the Tottenham managers ire. Mike Dean would do better to leave out the dramatics and do his job properly.

The Managers

Pochettino rued his sides basic errors and now must focus on two London derbies in the next seven days;

He said: ‘What happened on the pitch, happened on the pitch. We keep going. We made a few mistakes, we concede the two goals.

‘Congratulate Burnley, they fight a lot. We don’t deserve the defeat but that is football and I cannot say nothing. I can only keep going and be ready for next Wednesday.“

Burnley’s Sean Dyche was a happy man after a ninth win further eased any relegation concerns around the Lancashire club;

“We’re not a side who can slick it around like Man City but we have very good players. We wanted to get in behind them. I thought our front two were outstanding.”

Burnley are now 13 points clear of danger whilst Spurs remain five points behind City and Liverpool.

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