After the most forgettable of derby matches, Spurs were faced with the daunting task of hosting Manchester United. The champions have an excellent record against Tottenham and they showed no intention of relinquishing that record in the early stages. They dominated the ball and made several good chances as Spurs were caught cold. Surprisingly though, Spurs warmed into the game and began to dominate. The first half was almost all Spurs. They were disappointed then, to go in behind at half time. Kyle Walker, struggling for fitness after missing the midweek international, was lazy at a corner just moments before half time. Rooney, who he should have been marking, took full adavantage to nod United into the lead. It was simple, but so Manchester United. They had been below their best and had Spurs turned their domination into a leading scoreline, United couldn’t have complained. As it was, the red devils did what Spurs couldn’t. The slender scoreline looked decisive at half time. The second half continued much as the first had, Spurs were good (not outstanding) and shaded the play. United though, managed two goals through Ashley Young, before Spurs could get on the scoresheet. Defoe’s eventual goal was impressive but ultimately meaningless.
As in past seasons, Spurs fans can look at this match without embarrassment. They matched United, at least, and could have won the game with some luck. Many will point to the Adebayor goal, chalked off for unintentional hand ball. But, as usual, United found a way to beat Spurs. They did it without fuss, but were eventually comfortable winners. 3-1 does not reflect the play and flatters United.
Spurs’ focus now turns to their remaining fixtures. No team they must yet face should beat them. They face a struggling Chelsea, a dogged Everton and the ever combative Stoke, but are capable of defeating them all. This result is a tough one to take, playing well and beaten comfortably, but it matters little in the grand scheme. Spurs don’t beat United, it simply doesn’t happen. Declarations of crisis are off the mark. Spurs remain favourites for third place. If they can shake off the twin disappointments at Arsenal and against United, they should be able to claim their best ever Premier League finish. If they can add the FA Cup, this will be a vintage Tottenham system. If they want expect to challenge for the league in future seasons, they’ll need to beat the top teams. This year, with less lofty goals, winning the winnable games will see them third.