Thursday 22 February 2018 / 03:50 AM


Spurs may have toiled in their Sunday lunchtime win over Crystal Palace, but that scarcely matters.

This has been a week of serious significance for the North London side, and the fact that they were able to round it off with another precious three points courtesy of a 1-0 win at their temporary home is what counts – not what the game was like as a spectacle, nor the level at which they performed against the Eagles.

If you cast your mind back a few years, Sunday games were Spurs’ kryptonite.

Awarded the dubious chalice of the Europa League, Tottenham seemed to perpetually play on the last day of the week (or first day, depending on your calendar), and fairly often after some torturous travelling.

And – I think it’s fair to say – the Tottenham teams of old did not take it in their stride.

This Spurs side is a different animal though, and on Sunday they proved what we all knew to be true anyway: the best sides find a way to win when not playing at their best.

Make no bones about it – regardless of the poor performance put in by Real Madrid at Wembley on Wednesday, Tottenham still had to play at a very high level to secure the three points against Zinedine Zidane’s side. And after a high like that, it would have been perfectly understandable for the side to take their foot off the gas.

And they did.

They were ponderous on Sunday and lacked the cutting edge and killer instinct that made them such a wonderful side to watch midweek.

But here’s the important thing: they found a way to win.

If you cast your mind back to the great Manchester United teams of the 1990s and 2000s, it was their ability to secure maximum points when not really at the races that was in large part responsibility for their truly stellar record. Although I’m not suggesting that this Spurs side are on anything like the same level, it’s difficult not to notice some similarities.

Rather than the soft underbelly that has categorised Spurs for years, they are steelier and more determined.

They have a plan A, and a plan B and – one suspects – a plan C, too.

Clearly Tottenham will need to stay at this level of performance if they are to have any hope of finishing top of the Premier League this season, and with an eight-point gap between them and league leaders Man City, it may well be too late regardless.

But there’s a suspicion that City don’t have quite the same steel that Spurs have – would they still be able to grind out wins with two of their star players shorn from their side and another still short of match fitness?

Perhaps, but the proof will be in the pudding, and if City slip up and miss dessert, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Spurs sneaking in to secure the leftovers.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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