Tottenham strength in depth allows Jose Mourinho plenty of forward thinking

Dan Kilpatrick
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A third win in a week marked the definitive end of Tottenham’s two-and-a-half-month slump and moved Jose Mourinho’s side to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Gareth Bale and Harry Kane scored two goals apiece in last night’s win over Crystal Palace, proving that the 4-0 demolition of Burnley a week before was no one-off.

Kane also twice assisted Bale and his connection with the Welshman inevitably drew comparisons with his early-season combination with Heung-min Son, when the pair inspired Spurs to an 11-match unbeaten run, which briefly propelled them to the top of the table.

The significant difference between this week’s return to form and the autumn run is the competition for places in attack, with Mourinho’s side no longer reliant on just two players, for which the manager deserves credit.

Previously, Kane and a turbocharged Son were almost single-handedly dragging Spurs to results, with Steven Bergwijn most frequently the other forward.

The Dutchman’s current role underlines the dramatic change in Mourinho’s options, with Bergwijn having not started a League match since February 4 and an unused substitute again last night.

Instead, Mourinho can now count on a rejuvenated Bale, who was set up by Kane for close-range finishes either side of Christian Benteke’s equaliser in first-half stoppage-time, as well the England captain and Son.

Son offered a timely reminder that his partnership with Kane remains king, crossing for the striker’s second and Tottenham’s fourth goal. It was their 14th combination leading to a goal this season, setting a new Premier League record with 11 games to play.

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Getty Images

Mourinho’s decision to move Tanguy Ndombele further back in midfield has created an extra space in attack and the squad is also brimming with competition for the fourth forward role.

Last night, it was occupied by Lucas Moura, who fizzed around at No10 and led the press superbly, nicking the ball from Luka Milivojevic in the build-up to Bale’s opener.

Few Spurs fans would have welcomed the decision to break up the ‘fab four’ attack of Bale, Son, Kane and Dele Alli, who made the winning goal at Fulham midweek, but the Brazilian justified

his selection with another impressive display.

“When I was younger, I always played as a No10 and I like that position because I feel free,” Moura told Standard Sport. “I can run from left to right, I can play in the middle, I can touch more balls, I can create situations for the strikers. So, I like that position and I’m happy with the confidence that Jose has given me. I just have to give my best and keep going in the same way.

“It’s a big, big pleasure for me to play with these players and also because they are very good guys. I’m so happy, I’m so proud to be part of this team and I feel very comfortable playing them. I’m happy with the team and happy with the results. We just need to keep going this way.”

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Getty Images

Alli can expect to return to the side for the Europa League round of 16 first leg against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday, while Erik Lamela is also in line for a start after coming off the bench and creating Kane’s second goal last night with a sublime pass to Son.

Mourinho said: “We have very good attacking players and they allow me to do what I did yesterday, for example, which was to have a Dele Alli, who played really well against Fulham, to leave him out and play Lucas this time.

“Sonny, Gareth, Kane and then Lamela comes and comes well. Bergwijn didn’t even come and Tanguy stayed on the bench. We are a team with a lot of talent in these area.

“This Gareth is an extra for us. This Gareth didn’t start the season. This Gareth is playing this way for a couple of months and, of course, the quality is amazing. He’s a fantastic player.”

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