West Brom 1 Tottenham 1: Another match against West Bromwich Albion, another 1-1 draw, but this time at least Mauricio Pochettino was not quite as despondent as he was six months ago.
It was against the Baggies back in April that Tottenham’s Premier League title challenge began to unravel as they were held at home.
On that night, Spurs missed a host of good chances and their slender one-goal lead was cancelled out by a late West Brom sucker punch.
This game at the Hawthorns followed a similar pattern, as time and time again in the first-half Tottenham failed to convert the opportunities they created, primarily due to the superb Ben Foster in the host’s goal.
And when Nacer Chadli struck eight minutes from time against his old club it looked as though Pochettino’s side had once again been hit with another late killer blow.
However, in a manner that had Pochettino punching the air in delight, Tottenham refused to lie down and snatched an even later equaliser, through Dele Alli, maintaining their unbeaten start to the Premier League season. It was a goal that sums up the growing belief and maturity among this group of players.
“I think we have improved a lot from last season,” said Pochettino. “That means we are clever, but we must follow in the same way.
“I think it was unbelievable in the end we didn’t get the three points. But in football sometimes this happens and you need to accept some bad days, like today. I think it is important, not only to be unbeaten in eight games, but to be optimistic for the future, with the way we are playing. The character too [makes you optimistic].”
Truth to be told, Tottenham could have been out of sight at half-time as they dominated possession during the opening 45 minutes. Foster, though, was in imperious form in the West Brom goal and he pulled off a string of saves to grace any highlight reel.
A distinct lack of cutting edge looked as though it would cost Tottenham, especially when Chadli struck his fourth goal in five games. This time it was Hugo Lloris pulling off the wonder save at full-stretch to keep out James McClean’s volley — only for Chadli to ram home the rebound.
But Alli’s 89th-minute equaliser saved the day as he poked the ball home following good work from substitute Son Heung-Min.
“Their keeper played well,” Alli admitted afterwards. “But on another day it could have been four. We need to be more clinical.”
One man who could help Tottenham improve their strike rate is Harry Kane, who is only now returning to full training after an ankle injury. “Harry Kane is a very important player for us,” said Pochettino. “As soon as possible we can recover him, we will be more strong as a team.”
Foster 8; Dawson 6, McAuley 7, Evans 6, Nyom 5; Phillips 6 (’69 Brunt 6), Fletcher 8, Yacob 6, McClean 6; Chadli 7 (’88 Gardner 5); Rondon 6.
Subs not used:
Myhill, Olsson, Robson-Kanu, Morrison, Leko.
Lloris 6; Walker 7, Alderweireld 7 (‘60 Dier 6), Vertonghen 6, Davies 7; Wanyama 7; Sissoko 6 (’65 Dembele 5), Alli 7, Eriksen 7, Lamela 5 (’72 Son 6); Janssen 6.
Subs not used:
Vorm, Trippier, Onomah, Nkoudou.
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