Tottenham vs. Burnley: Winners and Losers from Premier League Game
LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur will head into Christmas in good spirits after a 2-1 home win over Burnley sent them into the Premier League's top-six.
In-form Harry Kane gave them the lead on the 21st minute when he headed in a Nacer Chadli cross. The striker had set the move in motion when he found the Belgian with a quickly taken free-kick.
Ashley Barnes stunned White Hart Lane just six minutes later when he curled in a shot from 20 yards to pull Burnley level. Tottenham were back in the lead soon enough, though, when Erik Lamela scored what proved to be the decisive goal. The Argentinian cut in from the left and placed it beyond the reach of Tom Heaton to contest Barnes' own strike as the best of the game.
Read on for the winners and losers from Saturday afternoon's meeting.
Winner: The Continued Good Form of Kane
Kane's 14th goal of the season was up there with his best.
The intuition he showed when he took the quick free-kick that followed Michael Keane's handball was in keeping with his near-constant attempts to find a way through or around opposition defences. The finish—a neat glancing header from Chadli's cross—was the perfect conclusion to the move.
The 21-year-old's overall performance was not his best of the season.
Shortly after Barnes' equaliser, he missed from two yards in front of goal when he failed to convert Lamela's cross following a superb dribbling run from the latter.
He had shots blocked and assisted Chadli for a disallowed goal. Moves broke down and he had to toil alone at points, left alone amid a crowd of claret and blue shirts.
But in the good, the bad and in-between, there was a confidence about Kane's play that is testament to his status as Tottenham's first-choice striker now.
When the recent experiment with two up front did not work as well as head coach Mauricio Pochettino hoped, it was Roberto Soldado who made way. Kane's combination of swagger and work rate is impossible to ignore right now. Fitness permitting, his starting spot is his to lose.
Loser: Mason's Momentum
Ryan Mason cut a despondent figure as he hobbled around the White Hart Lane pitch, arms draped over members of the Spurs medical staff.
The midfielder had enjoyed a good first 39 minutes prior to getting injured. Within the first 10, he had shot just wide of goal and tackled Scott Arfield to keep his team in possession upfield.
Mason kept it up from there. Save for one errant pass and a risky cross-field ball that put his defence under pressure, his work was intelligent and it contributed to a half his team enjoyed the better of.
It was from one of the 23-year-old's runs into the box he suffered his match-ending injury.
When he saw Christian Eriksen receive the ball outside of the box, the midfielder burst into the penalty area. The Dane found him and Mason shot over, but unfortunately got hurt under challenge from a Burnley defender.
"Mason doesn't look bad," Pochettino revealed in his post-match press conference. "He twisted the ankle. Now we need to ask tomorrow and after, but I am happy because he doesn't look bad."
Mason will hope that proves the case. He has been a regular in the Spurs team since late-September, rarely putting a foot wrong.
Just having to miss the second-half was obviously galling enough for a player revelling in his first-team opportunity. With Benjamin Stambouli pressing for a starting opportunity and others like Mousa Dembele still in the mix, he will have his fingers crossed he is fit for the trip to Leicester City on Boxing Day.
Winner: Lamela Gets Back on Track
There was not a happier figure at the Lane on Saturday than Lamela. He had scored his first Premier League goal for Tottenham and put in his best performance since coming off the bench against Everton in late-November.
"He is very happy because of his first goal," Pochettino confirmed of his compatriot afterwards. "We are very happy, too, because he helped the team to get the three points."
Altogether, Lamela has been vastly improved this season compared to his first campaign in England. In recent weeks, he lost a little form, though. His trademark skilful, mazy runs were stifled by Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Swansea City players who closed him down quickly and denied him space.
This less obstructive Burnley side proved the perfect tonic for the player's stuttering form, especially in the wake of bright showings from Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Newcastle United.
He ran Clarets left-back Ben Mee ragged in the first-half. The defender got nowhere near him for his goal, nor too George Boyd, who had been switched to Burnley's left flank after struggling with Chadli.
Pochettino was very keen to emphasise Lamela is still a work in progress, but believed his first league goal will help him.
"I think its important for the player. We need to understand that Erik is still young, he has a big talent and it was difficult in his first season in England.
"I think today was great for him because he needs to build his confidence. To be more strong. When we saw the performance from today, I think he is happy because he is in a very good process."
Loser: Hard-Working Burnley Need More Creativity
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was well-pleased with his team's performance going forward at White Hart Lane.
"I thought we were effective in our play, which we wanted to be," he said in his post-match press conference. "That was part of the game-plan, we wanted to get the ball forward quicker than we normally do. We wanted to affect their back four because we thought we could, and I thought we did."
Dyche went on to point out the saves Hugo Lloris was forced into making as evidence of the Clarets' success here.
There was definitely quality about some of Burnley's work.
Barnes' goal was excellent. They won the ball in midfield and Boyd fed the deep-lying forward into space just inside of Kyle Walker. He pushed on and made the most of the two yards he had on Federico Fazio, blasting it gracefully into the top corner.
Danny Ings was unsurprisingly a threat too. He worked hard to close the Spurs defence down in the first-half and after the interval benefited from through balls threaded through to him on Fazio's shoulder.
It was from these moments, and on one occasion the subsequent corner, where Lloris was worked most hard. But while Burnley should be praised for not just sitting back against Tottenham, their work should not be mistaken for being too effective.
David Jones and former-Spur Dean Marney kept going in midfield throughout, and Boyd and Arfield had some joy coming in from the flanks. But neither they nor the supporting full-backs were so good as to really worry Tottenham.
Workmanlike sounds harsh as a description. Their endeavour might ultimately be enough to keep them in the top flight. But if Burnley are really to make the most of Ings and give Barnes more opportunity to create, Dyche is going to need to try expand on it and add some creativity in the January transfer window.
All quotes obtained firsthand.