Just when you think Tottenham have found the elusive second gear and are ready to push for a top four spot, they fail to capitalize.
A 2-2 draw against Newcastle United, who are fighting for their Premier League lives and sit 17th in the table, epitomizes why Tottenham Hotspur aren’t a serious contender to win the Premier League. On Saturday, Chelsea were defeated in stunning fashion at the hands of West Brom, which cracked open the top four door.
It was all right there for Spurs, but their endemic shortcomings were put on full display in this one. A lack of defensive cohesiveness, bad turnovers, mental lapses, not capitalizing on opportunities…this one really stings for Jose Mourinho’s side.
𝗙𝗨𝗟𝗟-𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 ⏱️ The points are shared at St James' Park.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 4, 2021
⚫️ #NUFC 2-2 #THFC 🟡 pic.twitter.com/AwZ6DkevqI
It was clear right from the off that Spurs were going to be trudging through this game. After a spell of uneventful, back-and-forth play, captain Hugo Lloris put on the superman cape in the 19th minute. A pair of brilliant saves on Dwight Gayle kept Newcastle off the scoreboard, but it was clear more chances would come for the hosts.
In the 28th minute, they finally found paydirt. After a brutal turnover by Davinson Sánchez, Newcastle worked the ball to striker Joelinton, who tapped in an easy opening goal. It was yet another instance of Sánchez making poor decisions with the ball at his feet. Far too often, his clumsy clearances and inability to play out from his own half have resulted in goals conceded for Spurs. He HAS to clean it up.
However, just two minutes later, Harry Kane equalized for Spurs. On a broken play where Newcastle failed to clear the ball from their own box, Kane calmly secured his 18th goal of the season. The Englishman wasn’t done either: in the 34th minute, he blasted home his second of the game after a clever through pass by Tanguy Ndombele. Where would Spurs be this season without Kane; as of this writing, he maintains sole possession of the Premier League’s golden boot.
Credit to Newcastle, they played with aggression and desperation befitting a relegation candidate; it was obvious they wouldn’t go quietly into the night. In spite of their efforts, Spurs had a chance to ice the game late in the contest. A blistering fast break by Erik Lamela ended with Kane hitting the outside of the post. It’s possible Lamela could’ve found a streaking Heung-Min Son, who would’ve been in for a 1-on-1 opportunity, but the chance fell by the wayside. You just had a feeling that missed chance would be a pivotal moment, and indeed it was. In the 85th minute, Newcastle substitute and Arsenal loanee Joe Willock leveled the tie.
Given the larger Premier League ramifications of this match, coming away with only one point against Newcastle is absolutely unacceptable. Simply put, Spurs are not a good enough defensive team to park the bus and rely on counterattacking for extended stretches of time, no matter the opponent.
Yet again, they blew another lead and a surefire three points. Despite having 59 percent of the possession, Spurs were out-chanced 22 to 11; for many, this result will fall at Mourinho’s feet. His side is consistently choking against “inferior” opponents, and unless he’s able to buck that trend, his job is very much in jeopardy.
It doesn’t get any easier for Spurs, who will host second place Manchester United next Sunday. It should be a great match: it affords the Lilywhites a chance to sweep the Red Devils for the first time since the 1989-90 season. Although the result today was severely disappointing, Spurs need to turn the page.