Spurs survive 'Lasagna-gate 2' and it's over to Arsenal
- Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA
Tottenham Hotspur scraped through a tense fixture against Burnley with a 1-0 win that keeps them in the race for a Champions League spot next season.
It's over to Arsenal as they travel to Newcastle on Monday (May 16) to play their game in hand, with two points between the north London rivals.
Arsenal host Everton while Spurs travel to already-relegated Norwich for the season's finale next Sunday (May 22).
Spurs' hopes were nearly scuppered when a stomach bug struck several members of the squad ahead of the Burnley tie.
Dejan Kulusevski started on the bench but after the game boss Antonio Conte revealed that captain Hugo Lloris had also been ill. The captain was needed, on several occasions rising through the crowd to claim the ball and settle nerves.
Tottenham came out at blistering pace but as they failed to make the breakthrough, Burnley grew into the game.
The only goal came from a penalty awarded for a handball the referee did not spot and for which no one appealed.
VAR revealed that Ashley Barnes' arm was raised when grazed by the ball. It was probably the correct decision, though it was met with predictably opposed opinions from the Conte ("200% a penalty, not 100%...") and Burnley boss Mike Jackson who felt Barnes was just keeping his balance ("I don't know if the referee's played football before...").
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Harry Kane slotted home.
Barnes nearly equalised with a sublime shot from outside the box which hit the post, and Burnley threated on several occasions. In particular, Lloris came out on top in one-on-one with Maxwell Cornet in the first half.
But Spurs had more chances too, Nick Pope pulling off two outstanding one-handed saves from shots by Heung-Min Son.
And now it's over to Arsenal to try to gain the upper hand in a tricky tie at Newcastle. Will Antonio be watching?
"For sure, I watch the game. I watch the game because I love football. I want to suffer..."
Conte's active involvement in the game reached new heights, appearing to slap Emerson Royal in the back as he took too long over a throw-in. Come the second half, he was virtually on the pitch and dragging Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg into the box for a corner. Towards the end, he was geeing up the crowd, aware that the top four challenge was at risk.
Harry Kane - underrated?
Okay, he's clearly not underrated, but perhaps it is not yet appreciated quite how ridiculous some of the things he does are. In the first five minutes were a sublime piece of control from fizzed ball, and a cross-field pass that would rarely find the man from most players. It was far from his best game, with a couple of blind passes failing to find their man, but the penalty once again demonstrated nerves of steel. With only a week to go, the whistle is about to blow on the "will he or won't he leave" speculation.
'Oh, when the Spurs'
It really is quite a sound, whether it is "Oh, when the Spurs" or "one of our own", the stadium is a huge asset for the club. In Antonio's words: "It is amazing and has the characteristic to become a fortress for Tottenham."
Time for action?
Is it time to crack down on time-wasting? In the first half, Burnley's determination to delay proceedings only grew with the crowd's anger. But a goal down and with relegation looming suddenly the coaching staff are putting the ball back on the pitch. In the last five minutes it was Lloris getting a yellow for delaying a goal kick. Perhaps the answer isn't more yellow cards, but really going heavy on the time added on.
The game was hard fought and the message is very much "job done". The pressure on Arsenal ahead of their match against Newcastle will be immense. The race is on, and Spurs held their nerve against a good team battling relegation. But Sunday won't be easy against a Norwich team for whom the pressure is off.