Promising performances from both Richarlison and Harry Kane highlighted Spurs home victory, a badly needed win after their midweek exodus
If your consumption of football this weekend extended only to reading the scores orwatching the minimalist Match of the Day, then Tottenham Hotspur have bounced back emphatically from the woe of their European exit last week.
Their3-1 victory against Nottingham Forest certainly included plenty of upsides and afterwards Antonio Conte did his best to steer the narrative back to Champions League qualification as a heroic act. Was this their season getting back on track?
Some eyebrows were raised when Richarlisons name was included in Spurs starting line-up given his unflinching andlinguistically colourful criticismof his and Spurs season last week. Conte had subsequently suggested the Brazilian had acted selfishly, but perhaps he is a player who thrives in such conflicts? He was involved in all three Spurs goals, and seemed to have scored a first Premier League goal for his new club before it was ruled out after a VAR check. Spreading the attacking burden wider than Harry Kane is essential if Spurs are to finish the season strongly.
Two goals and now another 20-goal season for Kane, the sixth time he has reached this mark in the Premier League. Only Sergio Aguero and Alan Shearer can say the same. Conte said he could score a penalty kick blindfolded which may have been an exaggeration, but his spot kick here was the sort he was aiming for with his second against France in Qatar. Few players are better at shrugging off a setback and returning to goalscoring form than the England captain.
A bright performance from Pedro Porro, on loan from Sporting Lisbon but joining permanently this summer. He gives his team an extra dimension with an ability to beat a man, pick a pass and drive at runners from wide on the right.
Hugo Lloris understudy Fraser Forster was largely impeccable, other than his failed attempt to claim a corner shortly before Forests consolation. I think Fraser has made a lot of great saves recently, said Eric Dier to SpursPlay. It is never easy to come in and to play as the second-choice keeper. Hes obviously got a lot of experience and he is a very assuring presence back there, so Im very happy for him.
More than any individual performances it was the energy and determination of Spurs as a unit from the first whistle which will encourage them ahead of their next four league games, all of which they will go into as favourites. Today in my players I have seen the fire in their eyes, said Conte.
All of this must be weighed againsthow woeful Forest were, especially in the first half. As early as the 26th minute Morgan Gibbs-White and Jesse Lingard were gesturing with ill-tempered exasperation about the breakdown of an attacking move. Predictably for a team who has recruited so enthusiastically they looked short of unity.
First-half performance is really where the game was won and lost, said Steve Cooper. I felt we didnt compete well enough. Regardless of formation and players you play, those things dont matter if you are not competing. I didnt like us in the duels, in the one-v-ones and in the tackles.
If anything the disallowed goal should have been the warning sign but we just werent good enough in the first half.
The scoreline would also have had less gloss had Andrew Ayew scored his late penalty. Spurs are not out of the woods just yet
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