Simply put, it was a game Spurs had to have.
After a disappointing draw vs. Fulham this past Wednesday, Spurs ventured north to Bramall Lane for a must-win contest against last-place Sheffield United. Jose Mourinho decided to shake things up a bit, enlisting the services of Joe Rodon, Steven Bergwijn and Ben Davies, while also opting for a 3-man rearguard.
The switch-up seemed to pay dividends almost instantly: Serge Aurier’s header from a Heung-Min Son corner kick put Spurs ahead in only the fifth minute.
From there, Spurs kept pressing the hosts and looked threatening every time they got forward. The passing was crisp, the pace was blistering and the defense was organized. After a lengthy period of sustained pressure, Harry Kane doubled Spurs’ lead in the 40th minute with a perfectly struck, bottom-corner dart from outside the box. Surely, the lead would prove insurmountable for the Premier League’s basement dwellers.
However, Sheffield United were on the attack early in the second half. Despite their unenviable position, both in the game and the league at large, they played with a combination of pride and desperation that lead to David McGoldrick’s 59th minute tally. Spurs’ lead was cut in half, and with around 30 minutes left in the contest, they absolutely had to ensure they didn’t blow another second-half lead.
Enter Tanguy Ndombele: a mere 3 minutes later, the Frenchman hit a sublime chip with the outside of his foot that curled up and over Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale’s head and into the net. It was a spectacular bit of improvisation that’s in contention for goal of the season thus far.
Spurs stifled Sheffield for the remainder of the game and ended up taking all 3 points. A 3-1 victory is just what the doctor ordered for the visitors, who didn’t buckle in the second half when things got dicey. A solid overall performance sees Spurs climb to 33 points for the season.
Next up for Spurs: an FA Cup fourth-round match against Wycombe Wanderers, who currently sit in last place in the English Championship. The match will take place next Monday, Jan. 25.
A few more notes:
- Man of the match: Kane. He was a man possessed today, driving offense with his creativity, courage and composure. His 40th-minute strike was his 12th of the Premier League season and his 207th overall for the club. His next tally will tie him with Bobby Smith for second all-time in Spurs history.
- We're still a bit baffled by Mourinho’s substitution strategy. He brought in all three subs after the 87th minute, with the game all but decided by that point. Maybe he wasn’t too concerned with fatigue, seeing as Spurs will now get a break in their schedule, but it was strange to see nonetheless.