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Tottenham Hotspur Falter in Manchester Once Again

There seems to be a recurring theme over the past three seasons for Tottenham Hotspur when they visit Old Trafford. The games have tended to be a bit of a stalemate as each team prods and jabs away at the other without actually looking like winning. Unlike a boxing match however these contests can’t be won on points. It then becomes a situation for one team making a big enough mistake for the other to capitalise on that opportunity.

For the last three seasons the team making the mistake has been Spurs. In 2015-16 it was an own goal by Kyle Walker as he seemed destined to stop Wayne Rooney from scoring. In 2016-17 it was a loose pass in midfield that allowed Manchester United to set Henrikh Mkhitaryan free with a run on the Spurs goal and score. And yesterday it was a long ball over the top of the Spurs defence that wasn’t dealt with that allowed Anthony Martial to run through with the inevitable outcome.

Tottenham Hotspur Falter in Manchester Once Again

Three relatively close and uneventful games in which Tottenham were rarely in trouble ending in three consecutive 1-0 defeats. It seems that there are lessons to be learned and perhaps Spurs are not learning them if they keep repeating those same mistakes. Perhaps it is a mental issue. Not just for the players but for the manager too.

There is no question that in the last two or three seasons Mauricio Pochettino has turned his Tottenham side in to serious challengers; if not for the Premier League title then certainly in disrupting the status quo for the top four places and Champions League qualification. And it is felt that the trajectory of this club continues to be an upward one.

However, Pochettino is a proponent of brave football play. It seems at Old Trafford the bravery required has not been on display. Admittedly Spurs were without their talisman Harry Kane but they had enough possession to have done more than manufacture just one glorious chance for Dele Alli alone.

It is clear that if Spurs harbour ambitions to challenge for the Premier League title again that they have to start going to places like Old Trafford and believing that they can win. Their away form against the top teams remains their Achilles heel and whilst they have had the occasional victory at Manchester City or Arsenal the fact is that a few draws aside, the wins are not happening. The team is competing in these games up to a point and then they are punished, as they were yesterday, for a momentary lapse in concentration.

The season is long of course and there are still many points to be won and lost by all the top sides. But Spurs and Pochettino still have one more hurdle to overcome before they can get to where they want to be. And it has to be about starting to turn performances against their main rivals into wins on a regular basis. There’s progress made so far. But there is more progress to be made yet.


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