Spurs make Premier League history again
Spurs’ 3-2 victory over Leicester City this morning proved to be yet another one for the history books. Steven Bergwijn’s brace in the 95th and 97th minute to turn a loss into a win marks the latest any Premier League side has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The last record was held by Manchester City’s dramatic title winning final match of the season back in 2012, where Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguerooooooooo scored in the 92nd and 95th minute respectively to overturn QPR’s 2-1 lead and beat Manchester United to the title.
WATCH: Aguero's iconic goal vs QPR
If you don’t see many Spurs fans proudly wearing their jerseys out and about today, it’s probably because most of them have suffered a heart attack. Of course, Spurs fans are already used to cardiac events - remember Lucas Moura’s 96th minute winner against Ajax back in 2019 to send Spurs into the Champions League Final?
Ah, the blessing and curse of being a Spurs fan.
But as much as Spurs' late heroics made us cry like babies, it was the one moment after Spurs had scored the equaliser that really highlighted the change Antonio Conte had brought to the team.
You would imagine after scoring a 95th minute equaliser, one that Spurs fully deserved given the way they played in this match, they would celebrate as though they had just won the World Cup. After dominating for most of the match but being denied goals by two goalline clearances, a Davinson Sanchez sitter and the crossbar, most players would just have been happy to pick up a point, accepting that it wasn’t really their night.
But supersub Bergwijn didn’t pause to take in the accolades. He immediately ran into the goal to attempt to pick up the ball for a quick restart, and Harry Kane ran in right with him. It was clear that despite having almost no time left on the clock, the Spurs players were not happy with a point.
That was a pivotal moment, because it showed that if nothing else, Conte has instilled a winning mentality among a bunch of players who seemed to have characters as soft as melted cheese, or as the general football industry calls it, Spursy.
WATCH: Conte wants Bergwijn to stay at Spurs
Jose Mourinho had called this out when he first came to Spurs, that for the team to be winners, they need to get rid of that tag. Of course, knowing what the problem is and actually solving it are two different things, and in that regard, Mourinho failed miserably.
Whatever Conte has done, whether it be motivating speeches the level of Tony Robbins, or whether he engaged Dr Strange to cast a spell on the Spurs players (hopefully without breaking the Multiverse), it seems to be working.
If Spurs were indeed to make it into the Champions League next season, this is what it would come down to.
Indeed, he himself said as much at the post match conference.
He said: “At the end my players showed great resilience, great desire. Don't give up. This must be our philosophy, don’t give up and fight until the end. They showed me great desire. When we had equalised, we got the ball and we wanted to restart the game and to try to win. I think it was good for me to see this type of attitude from my players.”
Of course, I had called this back in November, that Spurs’ win over Leeds was perhaps a sign of a changing mentality, but it has really taken root since then.
Beating Leicester at the King Power Stadium, even a somewhat depleted Leicester side, is no small feat. Certainly not for a Spurs side still lacking the creative fluidity of teams such as Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, especially considering Leicester just beat Liverpool in their previous home game.
But yet, over the course of 90 minutes, Spurs had dominated and carved out the much better chances and on another day, this would have been a hiding for the home team. Spurs may not be as creative as the top three, but they’re making up for it with a combination of occasional individual brilliance and quick transitions.
Of course, anyone who’s had a kindergarten level of football knowledge knows that Spurs would need better players, as some of the passing borders on being commissioned as a pilot on Netflix’s stand-up comedy series.
WATCH: Conte insists Spurs have to strengthen squad
And yes, with 11 days left to the transfer window and nothing really moving on that front, and with Dr Strange’s spell not seem to be working on the likes of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, two of Spurs’ most creative players, it is very likely that these are the players Conte will have to get the best out of for the rest of this season.
They might not get there, even though the table looks great with the games in hand Spurs have over their top four rivals, but winning all of those games is hardly a given. It’s a nice thought though, that were Spurs able to get maximum points, they would be four points ahead of Chelsea, in third.
One suspects Chelsea would have something to say about that, as early as this weekend when Spurs travel to Stamford Bridge hoping that they don’t still suffer from PTSD over their comprehensive Carabao Cup semi-final defeats to the Blues.
WATCH: Spurs knocked out of Carabao Cup by Chelsea
One could point to Chelsea’s league form being a lot more erratic than their Cup heroics, having won just once in the last five, and just one narrow win over Leeds in their last six home league matches, and that match required a 94th minute penalty for them to get full points. Though, by the same yardstick, they’ve only lost once at the Bridge in the EPL this season, to Manchester City.
Should Spurs seek to inflict an unlikely defeat for Thomas Tuchel’s team and seriously take a foothold in the top four race, that winning mentality would be key. That may not be enough, but if they put in a shift even if they are defeated, it will put Spurs in pole position to secure that last Champions League spot, because a winning mentality means a loss would fire them up for the rest of the season.
Sure, Spurs may not win any trophies this season yet again, but man, they sure are great at making history.