Saturday, April 1, 2017 6:37 pm
Tottenham Hotspur cut the gap on English Premier League leaders Chelsea to seven points as they overcame a stubborn Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.
The visitors struggled in a drab first half as Dele Alli fired wide when well-placed and both central midfielders Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks were withdrawn through injury.
Winks suffered a particularly nasty fall, tumbling into the Burnley dugout after trying to tackle Stephen Ward, before he was carried off on a stretcher at the interval.
In spite of a lack of attacking fluency, Spurs continued to exert pressure on the Clarets from corner kicks.
It paid off when Eric Dier fired in after the hosts failed to properly clear Christian Eriksen’s delivery.
Vincent Janssen, making his first Premier League start of 2017, became the third Tottenham player forced off injured but that allowed the introduction of Son Heung-min.
And the Korea striker made sure of victory as he tapped in Alli’s squared pass on 77 minutes as Spurs controlled the final stages.
Victory, coupled with Chelsea’s shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, ensures Mauricio Pochettino’s side stay in contention for the title with nine games remaining.
A perennial worry with Tottenham is whether they possess the depth required to match the undoubted quality of their starting side and sustain a season-long challenge.
Victory over Southampton in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane last time out suggested those concerns could be consigned to the past, only to reappear in the first half at Turf Moor.
Kyle Walker’s deputy Kieran Tripper made numerous mistakes several times against his former club, while Winks was guilty of trying to forcing passes in midfield.
Also, Janssen was again ineffective, lacking the pace and guile to test the organised duo of Michael Keane and Ben Mee.
While not in the circumstances Spurs would have wanted, the added quality of Mousa Dembele and especially Son ultimately ensured a more comfortable afternoon.
The Korean’s movement was vital in opening up a tiring Burnley as Alli made amends for his earlier uncharacteristic miss to calmly find the striker free to side-foot in.
After the game, Pochettino said Kane could be back “in a few weeks”.
He added that Son in the meantime could again prove a stellar stand-in, while Janssen’s spell on the sidelines looks set to resume.
In other matches played on Saturday in the EPL, Hull City beat West Ham United 2-1, while Manchester United drew goalless with West Brom.
Leicester also beat Stoke City 2-0, with Watford compounding Sunderland’s woes with a 1-0 defeat.(NAN)