Tottenham piled the pressure on Arsenal in the race for Champions League football next season with a hard-fought 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Burnley on Sunday afternoon. Harry Kane’s penalty in first-half stoppage time proved decisive as Antonio Conte’s side leapfrogged their North London rivals and moved into fourth ahead of the Gunners’ trip to Newcastle on Monday night.
Spurs started brightly and asserted their authority from the off, but failed to make their early dominance pay. Against the run of play, Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet was then denied by Hugo Lloris after the Ivorian latched on to Nathan Collins’ defence-splitting pass.
However, it would be Tottenham who would break the deadlock under controversial circumstances. Moments after Kane spurned a glorious opportunity, uncharacteristically blazing wide from close range, the England captain redeemed himself from the penalty spot deep into first-half stoppage time, clinically dispatching his spot kick after Burnley’s Ashley Barnes was harshly punished for handling in the Spurs area.
The incensed Clarets went close through Kevin Long shortly after the interval before Barnes struck the Tottenham post with just over an hour played. Nick Pope then twice denied Son Heung-min from close range, but it didn’t prove costly as Kane’s spot-kick was enough to move two points above Arsenal in the Premier League’s standings. Express Sport has taken a look at five things we learned from the action at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Conte has changed Spurs mindset
In recent times, Tottenham have continuously found themselves mocked and ridiculed for failing to hold their nerve in the crucial moments. The Lilywhites’ tendency to throw away an advantage when in a position of promise has led to many branding the club’s continued failures as ‘Spursy’.
However, under the guidance of Conte, Tottenham are showing far more bottle. A comprehensive 3-0 triumph over Arsenal in the North London derby saw the Italian’s side head into the Burnley clash enter full of confidence, but the Clarets resolute resistance in the early stages could have seen Spurs once again cave.
In recent times, this is the sort of fixture – one with so much riding on it – that Spurs would have likely found too much. However, with Conte at the helm, Tottenham appear to have fostered a more resilient mindset. Spurs were patient and continued to probe, eventually getting their just rewards to claim all three points and pile the pressure on bitter rivals Arsenal.
Rules are rules
Tottenham looked to be heading into the half-time interval full of frustration having failed to make their dominance count and struggled to break down Burnley’s resistance. However, deep into first-half stoppage time, Spurs got a somewhat lucky break.
After the Clarets failed to clear their lines following Son’s deflected cross, Davison Sanchez’s attempt to play the ball on saw it brush the outstretched arm of Barnes. VAR intervened, advising match referee Kevin Friend to consult the pitch-side monitor, and the official promptly pointed to the spot.
Burnley were understandably incensed at the controversial decision to award the spot-kick, continuing their protestations in the tunnel at half-time, however while the ruling appeared harsh, the rules of the game were abided by. Rightly or wrongly, all season we have season similar decisions given as the unnatural positioning of Barnes’ arm gave Friend little choice by to apply the letter of the law. Rules are rules, no matter how harsh they can sometimes seem.
Golden Boot race will go down to the wire
Heading into Tottenham’s encounter with Burnley, just one goal separated Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Spurs’ Son after the latter closed in on the Egyptian in the Premier League goalscoring charts on Thursday night. The Korean hit his 21st league goal of the season against Arsenal in the North London derby to move within one of the Reds hitman.
And while the 29-year-old failed to add to his tally at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, the race for the Golden Boot will go right down to the wire. The prolific pair are now neck-and-neck ahead of next weekend’s final day, but Son has been handed the advantage.
Not only does the Spurs striker have the momentum, but an injury to Salah in Saturday’s FA Cup final may well mean his hopes of adding to his goalscoring exploits in Liverpool’s final two matches of the Premier League season have been eradicated. With Tottenham travelling to already-relegated Norwich, the team with the Premier League’s leakiest defence, on the final day, you wouldn’t put it past Son to score again next weekend and scoop the individual prize for the very first time in his career.
Sessegnon continues to fulfil promise
After signing for Tottenham from Fulham in a £25 million deal back in the summer of 2019, big things were expected of Ryan Sessegnon. However, in the years since, the speedy left-winger has seen his promising career stall somewhat.
The 21-year-old has seen injuries hamper his progress while the club’s recent managerial merry-go-round did little to aid Sessegnon’s hopes of establishing himself as a Tottenham first-team regular. But under Conte, all of that has changed.
The Italian has entrusted the England Under-21 international in recent times and he’s been rewarded for his faith. Sessegnon continued to fulfil his early promise with another impressive display against Burnley and looked lively down the left as he was constantly sought-out by his team-mates. Don’t be surprised to see Spurs looking to convert the youngster into an effective left-sided attacker in the mould of Gareth Bale over the next year or two.
Collins vital to Burnley’s cause
A key component in Burnley’s remarkable upturn in form over recent months has been that of young centre-back Nathan Collins. The 21-year-old has been thrust into the first-team more often than expected as the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have seen injuries ravage their Premier League campaigns.
However, Collins has risen to the challenge – and in some style. The Republic of Ireland international has been solid at the heart of the Clarets’ makeshift defence in recent times and continued to prove his worth against Tottenham.
Spurs asserted their authority from the off, threatening to make the breakthrough on several occasions, however, Collins continued to deny Conte’s forward line with a number of crucial clearances and interceptions. Should Burnley pull off an unforeseen escape from relegation, they will have the young centre-back to thank for his vital contributions. A bright future awaits.