The Week In Tottenham: The Death of a Title (by nine defenders)

Spurs have most probably kissed their title hopes goodbye after a 1-1 draw with West Brom, and there was no way to spin something good out of it writes Seb Stafford-Bloor...

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The week in five words

Title death by nine centre-backs.  

What went well

Just listen to White Hart Lane's reaction to the final whistle on Monday night: that's what it sounds like when a dream dies

Well... perhaps... actually no, there's no way to spin it: the draw with West Brom essentially ends the title race and that really is crushingly disappointing. There will be a time and place to apply the right context and to talk of the Champions League and all the wonderful memories which can be taken from this season, but now isn't that moment. 

Dele Alli became the PFA's Young Player of the Year and four Tottenham players were included in the Team of the Season, but to focus on that would be to ignore the obvious. 

Instead, just listen to White Hart Lane's reaction to the final whistle on Monday night: that's what it sounds like when a dream dies. 

What didn't

It was nervy and tentative and, ultimately, an unwelcome reminder of times which were being eagerly forgotten

This was not the week for old ghosts to reapper. Tottenham did well to take the lead against Tony Pulis's army of centre-halves, but they never seemed entirely comfortable and their temperament was gradually strangled by West Brom's pressing. Eventually they crumpled under the weight of the situation. 

All season Spurs have used their emotional resilience to take points from unlikely scenarios, so for their hardened resolve to abandon them at the crucial moment was particularly galling. It was nervy and tentative and, ultimately, an unwelcome reminder of times which were being eagerly forgotten. Pulis, a narrow lead and a poorly defended set-piece? Oh, how horribly familiar. 

Harry Kane

Harry Kane is refusing to throw in the towel

Still, it's important to characterise that disappointment in the right way. Local rivals will mock and sneer – principally to detract from their own dismally weak seasons – but what Tottenham have achieved is likely sustainable and this year, rather than being an anomalous fairy tale, is more likely representative of their long-term trajectory.

Quote of the week

"It’s an unbelievable story. From the first day he came in he’s fitted in well, he’s always happy to take the ball and he’s a very confident guy on and off the pitch. Even when he doesn’t play his best game, you have to leave him on the pitch because he can score goals out of nowhere and that’s a great quality. He’s a great player and a joy to play alongside." – Jan Vertonghen of Dele Alli.

The need-to-know-facts

  • Tottenham have scored a league-high 23 goals from set-piece situations this season in the Premier League (incl. 5 penalties).
  • West Brom had more shots (10) than Spurs (7) in the second half of this match.
  • Spurs attempted just 2 shots on target in this game – their lowest figure in a Premier League match at White Hart Lane since October 2014 (2 vs Newcastle).
  • Spurs didn’t attempt a shot on target in this match after the 20th minute.
  • This was only the 3rd time this season in the Premier League that Spurs have managed fewer shots on target than their opponent in a match, and the first time at White Hart Lane.

Video of the week

Dele gets his gong:

Winner of the week

Alli is special and it's hard to remember a time when the Spurs fanbase was so smitten with a young player

Dele Alli, period.

On Sunday night, Alli was deservedly named the PFA's Young Player of the Year. What a point of pride for everyone at the club – and even more so given that a Tottenham player has won the award in five of the last six seasons.

Alli is special and it's hard to remember a time when the Spurs fanbase was so smitten with a young player. Harry Kane, of course, has had a pronounced impact on the club's fortunes and is genuinely and rightly adored by the supporters, but Alli's rapid ascent has felt different. He plays the game with enormous touch and feel, of course, but also with a charming disregard for his surroundings and a vague contempt for his opponents' reputations. Kane is a force of nature, but Alli can often seem otherworldly. 

Dele Alli

Alli's emergence has been a huge bright spot for Tottenham

When that happens – when a player glows as he has done from his first moments on a Premier League pitch – it's tempting as a fan to believe that you're watching the start of something truly significant. Alli can be anything he wants to be in the game, and for the supporters to have had the chance to see these first mesmerising steps has been a thrilling opportunity. 

His award was righteous, then, and part-repayment for what a privilege it has often been to watch him. He sometimes dances with the devil in games, evidenced again by his running battles with Claudio Yacob on Monday which is likely to land him with an FA ban, but that menace just makes for an enticing cocktail – and, actually, is a welcome attribute at a club which has commonly been far too soft. 

Be nasty, be great; Alli has been both and confirmation that he is definitively the best young player in the country was the week's highpoint. 

Loser of the week

Sadly, it has to be Hugo Lloris.

It seems unfair, though. There were several culprits for Craig Dawson's equaliser but Lloris, as goalkeeper, must take most of the blame. Just as the old maxim dictates: come for a cross and you must get there. He didn't, and Dawson was able to power over the top of Eric Dier to score.

Hugo Lloris

Lloris is a victim of his own high standards

Could it not have been any other player's mistake?  

Tottenham have had more important players this season, but over the last four years nobody has been Lloris's equal. Other goalkeepers in the league have attracted more focus and been celebrated with far less justication, while all the while he has performed miracle after miracle. 

Yes, his misjudgement cost the team on Monday, but they are in position for that to matter because he has been regularly exceptional. Football is cruel and Lloris is an outstanding goalkeeper; both as true now as they were 24 hours ago. 

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