Football: Lofty hopes as Spurs rue draw

Tottenham's Dele Alli, who netted the equaliser just before half-time, showing his style as Everton's Leighton Baines struggles to catch him.
Tottenham's Dele Alli, who netted the equaliser just before half-time, showing his style as Everton's Leighton Baines struggles to catch him.PHOTO: REUTERS

Regret over result at Everton despite solid showing signals strong mentality & ambition

LONDON • For Tottenham Hotspur, it was the day when the music stopped.

In the past, a hard-fought draw against Everton at Goodison Park might have prompted quiet satisfaction, if not songs of joy, but on Sunday all that the 1-1 result prompted was disappointment, contemplative silence and the abrupt turning-off of the dressing-room sound system.

As a measure of how far Spurs have come under Mauricio Pochettino's astute management, their disconsolate reaction was as compelling as any victory.

The rise in standards that inevitably accompanies incremental improvements in form dictated that the end of a three-match winning streak felt like a defeat.

However, in the context of a Premier League in which no result can be taken for granted, sharing the spoils with Everton could ultimately be viewed as a more than adequate return.

The reaction of Pochettino and his players then tells us something that their words do not - Tottenham view themselves as title challengers and in that context, this was two points dropped.

  • Alli turns fashionista on the field

    Without wanting to reduce another footballer to an Augur of Style, it would be hard to ignore Dele Alli's knee tape, seen during the match against Everton on Sunday.

    The 19-year-old Spurs midfielder wore unusually printed kinesiology (KT) tape around his left knee - which grabbed more attention than his excellent volley.

    Twitter users reacted by comparing it to wallpaper, henna and psoriasis.

    Kinder commentary came from Fashion, which noticed the print is a bit Aztec, a bit Baja stoner-chic masquerading as Cruise SS16 print and, it transpires, abundant on the high street cruise-inspired collections.

    Want the look?

    Asos has something similar in black and beige, in top and bikini form. Isabel Marant had similar prints in her spring/summer 2016 collection , while American Apparel has been peddling its (dubiously named) Afrika print for years in Spandex, on tube minis and bikinis.

    Topshop has gone one step further with these temporary tattoos which mean you could fashion your own fake tape for your knee.

    THE GUARDIAN

"It is too early to start to speak about a (title) challenge or about achievements; the time for that is at the end of the season," the Tottenham manager said. "We are very ambitious and the players are very disappointed in the dressing room. Always at the end of the game we play some music but today we are too disappointed. That is a good sign.

"Maybe tomorrow we will analyse the game and say we need to feel proud and happy for the point but today our feeling is that we have dropped two points. This is a very good sign. We have the youngest squad in the Premier League but we are showing our winning mentality."

In an opening half of almost total dominance that was punctured only by a goal of remarkable quality from Aaron Lennon, their former player, Tottenham displayed many of the qualities that have allowed them to emerge as dark horses to win the Premier League.

Inspired by the outstanding Dele Alli, who struck an eye-catching equaliser on the stroke of half-time, long spells of play transpired in which the visiting team performed with the imperiousness that characterises champions.

Alli, Tottenham's man of the match, is growing in stature with every game and the young midfielder echoed Pochettino's words.

"Definitely we deserved more," he said. "That shows how well we are doing to come away to Everton and be disappointed with a point."

A failure to turn control into victories is a cause for concern as Tottenham had to settle for a point for the ninth time this season. But they stretched their unbeaten sequence on the road to nine league games - their best away run for 20 years.

They are just six points adrift of leaders Arsenal, have lost only twice in the league this season and boast the best defensive record and the joint-best goal difference.

Tottenham have not been English champions since 1961 and, while their priority is a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League, a title challenge is realistic.

"Our mentality is strong, we are ambitious," pointed out Pochettino.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Lofty hopes as Spurs rue draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe