A lacklustre Tottenham side left it late to secure a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday afternoon.
As was predicted by some, Spurs looked hungover from their midweek European success in Barcelona.
We’ve analysed how they got on at Wembley Stadium to pull out some Fantasy Premier League talking points.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Burnley
Goals: Christian Eriksen (£9.3m)
Assists: Harry Kane (£12.6m)
Statistically, Harry Kane (£12.6m) had his worst Premier League performance since the Gameweek 10 in his Saturday afternoon outing against Burnley. In Gameweek 17, the talismanic striker had just two shots, his lowest total for seven league matches, when Spurs faced Manchester City. Neither of his efforts at Wembley on Saturday was on target either, and only one was taken in the box. It was a far cry from what we saw of Kane between Gameweeks 11 and 15 where he was offering an average of 4.4 goal attempts per game. The 1,151,183 managers who handed him the armband will perhaps consider themselves fortunate to have picked up a stoppage-time assist.
However, those already considering the premium man’s place in their squads should consider some mitigating factors. The first was the impact of Spurs’ midweek Champions League exploits. It was clear that they were left completely shattered by the performance they put on in Barcelona, Mauricio Pochettino’s men looking very laboured all afternoon at Wembley. This was not the first time that had happened to Spurs either. In fact, after all of their Champions League group stage matches this season they were less than convincing in favourable fixtures or were defeated by other top-six sides, as you can see from the table below. With the competition now off the calendar until February, we may not see so many below-par performances from them, but of course, the Premier League games will be coming thick and fast too.
|Champions League match||Subsequent Premier League result|
|Inter Milan 2-1 Spurs||Burnley 1-2 Spurs|
|Spurs 2-4 Barcelona||Spurs 1-0 Cardiff|
|PSV 2-2 Spurs||Spurs 0-1 Man City|
|Spurs 2-1 PSV||Crystal Palace 0-1 Spurs|
|Spurs 1-0 Inter Milan||Arsenal 4-2 Spurs|
|Barcelona 1-1 Spurs||Spurs 1-0 Burnley|
Secondly, as a result of that trip to Spain, both Son Heung-min (£8.5m) and Christian Eriksen (£9.3m) were absent from the starting line-up. That meant Kane had to drop deep and wide to make up for the lack of creativity. Erik Lamela (£6.2m), Dele Alli (£8.9m) and Lucas Moura (£7.0m) were the three chosen to play in attacking midfield behind Kane. None of them could provide service for the forward with no Spurs player creating more than the two chances each recorded by Danny Rose (£5.8m) and Moussa Sissoko (£4.9m). Lamela was by far the biggest threat with seven efforts, four in the box and two on target but failed to convert, now six Gameweeks without an attacking return. However, he still had five more goal attempts than any of his colleagues.
Finally, Sean Dyche lined up his Burnley side in a very organised and compact fashion, deploying a 4-5-1 formation. The Clarets stifled what little cohesion Spurs showed and did not look much like the whipping boys we have seen in recent weeks. In the four matches prior to Gameweek 17, Burnley had allowed an average of 11.5 shots in the penalty box per game but conceded just 10 against Spurs. Furthermore, during that period they had been shipping an average of 13 open play goal attempts per match but allowed just nine on Saturday afternoon. It is hard to decide whether that was a result of Dyche’s shrewd tactics or Spurs’ European fatigue. In all likelihood, it was probably a combination of both.
“We thought it was going to be that type of game from our point of view. We came down here with a solid formation, with a change of shape. That’s not easy, but we’ve worked on it all week because I felt it was appropriate. I’m open-minded in that respect and I’ve thought about it many times, but I didn’t want to do it in a three-game week. But there’s been good signs now in four of the last five games. There’s a resilience again and the details are getting more clear-minded. We’re still a little bit away from taking that balance into the attacking side, but we aren’t playing teams like this every week. Of course, we need results, but a lot of the game is about mentality.” – Sean Dyche
The 235,000+ Fantasy managers who signed Son for this match were left disappointed by the fact that he was absent from the starting line-up for the first time Gameweek 12. His run of consecutive starts had run for four Gameweeks, his longest streak of the campaign. That had led many to believe that he would remain a permanent fixture in the first XI during December, but this was proof that he remains a benchable option in Pochettino’s mind. However, the 75 minutes of rest may be in Son’s favour as it does increase his chances of starting Gameweek 18. We also still believe that his expected absence in January for the Asian Cup will see him play more minutes over Christmas than those in competition for his place.
The introduction of Eriksen in the second half improved things for Spurs and it was indeed the Danish international who smashed in the winning stoppage-time goal. The fact that Pochettino has not started him since Gameweek 15 has clearly been with the intention of keeping him fresh. So Eriksen should feature a lot more over Christmas now, especially with further injuries in midfield.
It was revealed on Sunday morning that Eric Dier (£4.8m) will be out until at least the new year after having surgery for appendicitis.
“Eric Dier has undergone surgery to remove his appendix. The England international midfielder was diagnosed with appendicitis after contacting our medical staff due to acute Abdominal pain. He received immediate treatment to assess and then remove the appendix. He will now undergo a period of recovery before commencing rehabilitation and it is expected he will return to training with the squad in January.” – Spurs press release
Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) came back from injury to play all 90 minutes and keep a second successive league clean sheet at Wembley. However, the Spurs’ defence was still not at its usual full strength. Juan Foyth (£5.0m) did not come through his fitness doubt and Jan Vertonghen (£5.9m) was left out of the match squad with a thigh injury. That meant Toby Alderweireld (£5.9m) was paired with Ben Davies (£5.6m) at centre-back and Rose had to play 90 minutes just days after doing so in Barcelona.
In midfield, there was a full Premier League debut for Oliver Skipp (£4.5m). He managed 75 minutes before being replaced by Son and rarely put a foot wrong. With further injuries in his position, we could see a lot more of him over the Christmas period, especially as Pochettino seems so fond of him.
“Fantastic, fantastic, I think he played like a 30-year-old man. So relaxed, trying to play forward and trying to give the team what the team needs, plenty of energy, full energy, I am so proud of him. I think everyone is proud of him. He is only 18-years-old and I think it was fantastic. Now I think it is going to be easy for him because always the debut you are nervous. I remember when it was my first game and I said to him ‘you look so relaxed. When I was 17, going to play I was so nervous’. I said ‘that is the difference between a player going to be a top player and a player who was going to be a normal player like me’. He in the last few months, of course in the USA in pre-season he shows that he can cope with the pressure to play in the first team and it was only about time and the possibility to give the opportunity. We are so happy.” – Mauricio Pochettino
The forgotten man Fernando Llorente‘s (£5.6m) made his first league appearance since Gameweek 9. In total, he has played just 21 minutes in the top flight this season, his introduction against Burnley out of desperation more than anything else.
While Burnley showed a slight improvement in defence, they remain anaemic going forward. The Clarets failed to register a single shot on target against Spurs, which is the third time they’ve done that this season. Remarkably, no other team in the league has achieved that feat more than once in 2018/19, cementing Burnley’s place as the division’s worst goal-scoring side. That boosts the clean sheet potential of Arsenal, Everton, West Ham and Huddersfield in the next four Gameweeks.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Rose, Davies, Alderweireld, Trippier; Skipp (Son 75′), Sissoko; Moura (Eriksen 65′), Alli, Lamela (Llorente 82′); Kane.
Burnley XI (5-4-1): Hart; Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Long, Bardsley; Brady (Hendrick 90+2′), Cork, Westwood, Lennon (Vokes 90+3′); Barnes (Wood 80′).
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