Tottenham Hotspur sit fourth in the Premier League table after an entertaining if tense victory against Brentford.
Neal Maupay’s early goal had seen the visitors go into the interval ahead, but Tottenham scored twice on the counter attack — through Destiny Udogie and the substitute Brennan Johnson — in 63 seconds shortly after the restart to transform the occasion. Richarlison added a third seven minutes later as Brentford threatened to capitulate.
Yet Ivan Toney’s riposte, from another Tottenham defensive mistake, set up a tense finale but the hosts withstood late pressure to prevail. They are now above Aston Villa on goals scored.
Charlie Eccleshare breaks down the big talking points from the game.
Will Werner prove a January bargain?
The first half of this game ended with a dreadful Timo Werner cross, which flew straight out and was symptomatic of his and the team’s performance up to that point.
He had, though, at least worked hard throughout that first 45 minutes, and he was rewarded soon after the interval. First he made Destiny Udogie’s equaliser with a dart down the left, before providing the assist for Brennan Johnson a minute later with a similar burst. He was at it again soon after, running at the Brentford defence with confidence clearly coursing through him.
Because he can look so good one minute and so bad the next, Werner will not always appear totally convincing. But clearly he has a lot of upside and two assists from his first three games speak to his efficiency in the final third.
With Son Heung-min away at the Asian Cup and missing for at least one more game after this, others in the Spurs squad have to step up in his absence. Werner did that against Brentford, and his early performances suggest he should be a very useful January addition.
Udogie’s mixed night reflects Tottenham’s two sides
Brilliant going forward, extremely ropey defensively.
The description would be equally apt for both Udogie and Tottenham on Wednesday night. Udogie scored Spurs’ equaliser but also gave the ball away for both Brentford goals. The second error was particularly bad, a blind pass straight to Ivan Toney, who finished cooly past Guglielmo Vicario.
But Udogie was far from the only offender. The hosts’ uneven high line led to Neal Maupay’s opener, and came just a minute after Brentford had scored but had the goal ruled out for a narrow offside. Toney’s goal also came after he just missed a very presentable chance.
Of the teams in the top 11 of the Premier League, only Brighton & Hove Albion have conceded more and their expected goals against (xGA) is even worse (37.2) than the 33 they’ve let in, and the seventh worst in the Premier League this season. That suggests that, were it not for the brilliance of Guglielmo Vicario and some wayward opposition finishing, they would have an even worse record.
It’s something they need to tighten up if they’re to take advantage of their impressive scoring numbers.
Key players return to add depth to Postecoglu’s options
One of the many effects of Spurs’ injury crisis has been how much it has weakened Postecoglou’s options of the bench. Speaking ahead of the Manchester City game last week, the head coach said that having players like James Maddison returning would make a big difference in this regard.
“We’re probably one of the few teams that hasn’t had a massive impact with our substitutes during this period,” he said. “Early in the season we were good because we had a stronger bench. We’ve just been really limited in those attacking midfield positions so it (Maddison’s return) gives us more options.”
We saw this play out on Wednesday as Spurs brought on both Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at half time. Johnson scored within four minutes of his introduction, while Hojbjerg was involved in Richarlison’s goal that saw Spurs go from 1-0 down to 3-1 up inside eight minutes.
Up until the half-time changes Spurs had struggled once again against a low block. But, unlike at other points this season, they were able to bring on a £47.5million ($60.2m) winger and really shake things up.
What did Postecoglu say?
We will bring you the Tottenham head coach’s post-match reaction as soon as possible after the final whistle.
What next for Tottenham Hotspur?
Saturday, February 3: Everton (A), Premier League, 12.30pm GMT, 7.30am ET
It’s a quick turnaround for Postecoglou’s side, with 62 hours between the end of tonight’s game and kick-off at Goodison Park on Saturday. Richarlison’s early goal set Spurs on their way to a 2-1 win in the December meeting between the two sides.
(Top photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)