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Burnley 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: 3 talking points from a bad-tempered game | Premier League 2019-20

  • Burnley and Tottenham played out a bad-tempered 1-1 draw in Premier League action - here are 3 talking points from the game.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
Modified 08 Mar 2020, 01:44 IST

Tottenham played out a bad-tempered 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor
Tottenham played out a bad-tempered 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor

In a largely frustrating game for both teams at times, Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur played out a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.

Sean Dyche’s Clarets bossed the first half while Jose Mourinho’s Spurs came back strongly in the second, and although both sides could’ve found a winner, a draw was probably the fair result.

Chris Wood opened the scoring for Burnley after just 13 minutes, capitalising on an error from Hugo Lloris, who spilled a shot directly to the striker, but try as they might Dyche’s side couldn’t double their lead.

Mourinho then made two changes at half-time, introducing Giovani Lo Celso and Lucas Moura while switching from a back 5 to a back 4, and it was the former’s pass to Erik Lamela that drew a penalty that was dispatched by Dele Alli.

Both sides then pushed hard for a winner, but couldn’t find it, and in the end the game degenerated into a bad-tempered one, with referee Jon Moss booking 9 players.

Here are 3 talking points from this evening’s draw.

#1 What will it take for Mourinho to shore up Tottenham’s defence?

Davinson Sanchez had a poor game at the heart of Spurs
Davinson Sanchez had a poor game at the heart of Spurs' defence

To be quite frank, Spurs were awful in the first half of this game, looking both toothless in attack and extremely shaky at the back. It was that defence that caused the most issues for Mourinho’s side though, as the Portuguese deployed a three-man central defence of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez, and the trio never looked comfortable for a second.

They were seemingly in each others’ way at times, couldn’t get a handle on Burnley’s strikers Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez, all while Dwight McNeil was allowed to run riot on the left side of the pitch.

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And while Spurs’ performance improved once Mourinho moved Dier into midfield in a system switch at half-time, Sanchez remained woeful, committing a number of mistakes and narrowly avoiding conceding a penalty for a shove on Wood.

Also Read: Jose Mourinho is struggling to evolve with the modern game

Historically, Mourinho’s sides have been renowned for their solid backline, but that simply isn’t the case for the current Tottenham side. Whether this is down to the wrong personnel available or the Portuguese boss simply not knowing his best defensive combination right now is a major question mark, but whatever the cause, if he wants to lead Spurs to success it’s something ‘The Special One’ needs to sort out quickly.

#2 When will the sharks begin to circle around McNeil?

Burnley
Burnley's Dwight McNeil enjoyed a fantastic game today

The first half of this match was dominated by Burnley, but one man stood out more than any other and that was 20-year-old wideman Dwight McNeil. The England U-21 international tortured Tottenham’s defenders with his movement, dribbling and general attacking play, and it was his cross that led to Chris Wood’s opener, as well as a number of other missed chances for the Clarets.

It should come as no surprise to learn that McNeil completed more dribbles (6) than any other player on the pitch, and also registered 2 key passes – as many as any other player. The second half saw him quieten down a little, but he still embarrassed Giovani Lo Celso by dribbling away from him – forcing the Argentine to cynically pull him down to earn a booking.

The most fascinating thing about McNeil is that his style of play – all flashy dribbling and wonderful crosses – doesn’t really fit with Burnley’s direct, somewhat crude modus operandi. That means that he’s far more valuable to Sean Dyche than some of his other players, but given he’s capable of performances like this, it will surely not be long before the Premier League’s sharks – teams like Manchester United and Chelsea – begin to circle around him.

#3 Mourinho shows he can still change a match

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho's half-time substitutions and system change flipped the game on its head

The second half of this match was fascinating in that, going into half-time, Tottenham looked absolutely dead and buried. Their first half showing was as bad as any Spurs performance in the current campaign, and given Burnley’s domination, it seemed nigh on impossible that Jose Mourinho’s side could haul themselves back into the game.

Two substitutions and a change in system though caused the game to flip on its head, and suddenly it was Spurs dominating play in the second half, even if Burnley still looked dangerous at times. But the truth is that Tottenham’s equaliser was well-deserved – something unthinkable given their first-half showing.

Mourinho has bemoaned his lack of options in recent weeks, and that’s been understandable given his side are playing without a recognised striker, but the way that substitutes Giovani Lo Celso and Lucas Moura changed this match shows that Tottenham’s squad is deeper than some like to make out.

Also Read: Analysing Tottenham Hotspur's remaining fixtures and their chances of finishing in the top four

But it was the change in system – pushing Eric Dier into midfield and using a back four – that really swung the match in Tottenham’s favour, and that’s down to Mourinho, who clearly saw that things were going wrong in the first half and wasted no time in remedying that. The observers who have been slating him in recent weeks should write him off at their peril.

Published 08 Mar 2020, 01:44 IST
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