Tottenham are still in the mix for a Champions League place thanks to a 3-1 win over West Ham as boss Antonio Conte sent Manchester United an embarrassing message
Insanity. The continued presence of Tottenham in the race for the top four.
Especially when you consider – allowing for Chelsea’s game in hand – Antonio Conte’s men are now fifth, just eight points behind the third-placed European Champions. Harry Kane and Son Heung Min are the reasons why. Take the matchwinners against West Ham out of this team and Spurs finish mid-table at best.
With them, the north Londoners can continue daring to dream of rescuing a Champions League place from the ashes of a chaotic season. With 19 assists each, Kane and Son have combined for 38 Premier League goals, the most of any strike partnership in the competition’s history.
They are the Batman to each other’s Robin. The Captain America to the other’s Winter Soldier. The Tango to each other’s Cash. In fact, it is hard to know which of the two is the hero and which is the sidekick, such has been their incredible contributions to what at times has seemed a lost cause.
In the last three months Spurs have been outclassed by Chelsea, embarrassed by Southampton and Wolves at home and waved the white flag at Burnley. And yet there they are, within a win of drawing level with fourth-placed Arsenal, even though the Gunners have played a game more.
There’s a reason why Antonio Conte’s name rang around the Tottenham Hotspur stadium ahead of the final whistle. The former Chelsea boss has turned a side that were shambolic in September – and at several points since – into an outfit shooting their way into the top four.
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How Manchester United must be embarrassed, having turned their noses up at him when they are crying out for his work ethic he demands of his players.
The Reds are now looking up at a Tottenham side with whom West Ham simply couldn’t cope. David Moyes’ men – after that epic Europa League win over Sevilla last Thursday to reach the quarter-final – looked out on their feet early on.
They were slow to react, eight minutes in, when Kane crossed for Son, the ball bouncing in off defender Kurt Zouma’s knee. Fifteen minutes later Son would double the lead himself with a similar, sublime move. Rodrigo Bentancur, on the left, moved the ball infield to Kulusevski. The Swede, again, exchanged passes with Kane before presenting it to Son.
This time the South Korean’s effort would give keeper Lukasz Fabianski no chance. The trouble is, Spurs still can’t defend and life will continue to remain a rollercoaster for them while that remains the case. Ten minutes before the break, Craig Dawson flicked the ball on from Aaron Cresswell’s corner and Said Benrahma rammed it in, unmarked, at the back post.
It stayed that way despite a second half resurgence from Moyes’ men in which Michail Antonio volleyed over the box in the 56th minute. But Son sent Spurs out of sight in the 89th minute after a long kick from keeper Hugo Lloris was headed on to release him. The assist maker? Kane.
Conte has notched up some incredible achievements in his storied career at clubs with far more quality. But after reinvigorating Kane and Son, if he can blast Spurs into the Champions League – after everything the troubled north Londoners have been through this season – it would be right up there.