Tottenham's bogey team strikes again as Wolves upset Spurs' push for fourth place

Tottenham's bogey team strikes again as Wolves upset Spurs' push for fourth place

Tottenham’s hopes of finishing in the top four will ultimately rest on whether they can consistently beat the teams they are expected to. But for the second time this season, Wolves got the better of Spurs as they dropped valuable points.

This loss, their fourth in five meetings with Wolves, was particularly damning and damaging. Not only was this their first defeat in six Premier League home games — it also saw them drop to fifth, with Aston Villa now two points above them having dispatched Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The most glaring omission from Spurs’ performance was that of genuine goalscoring chances. It took until the very last action of first-half stoppage time for a shot on target, which Richarlison shot tamely at Jose Sa.

Heung-min Son made his return after the Asian Cup, and Postecoglou was able to pick the midfield trio of Yves Bissouma, Pape Matar Sarr and James Maddison that worked to such devastating effect earlier in the season. Yet it was an afternoon in which very little clicked for Spurs.

Maddison and Son were marked closely and diligently by Wolves, who had already beaten Spurs 2-1 once this season, and they completed a double thanks to this away win by the same scoreline.

Their hero, and the thorn in Spurs’ side, was Joao Gomes. The defending for both of his goals will concern Postecoglou greatly. It was too easy for Max Kilman to block Son off and keep Gomes unmarked from Pablo Sarabia’s first-half corner. That afforded the midfielder the room to plant a tremendous header past Guglielmo Vicario.

And while Bissouma’s disruptive and tireless midfield display was to Tottenham’s benefit, it was his loss of possession on the edge of the area that saw Wolves counter and score the winner through Gomes, all the way from a Spurs corner kick.

With Richarlison slipping as he shot in acres of space and Son and Maddison both enduring an off-day, it fell to Dejan Kulusevski to provide the attacking ingenuity for Tottenham.

His tight-angle finish in the first minute of the second half pulled Spurs back level and offered hope, but Wolves rose to the occasion whereas too many of Kulusevski’s teammates had wilted.

Tottenham queued up and knocked on the Wolves door as defeat loomed, but the visitors had 11 men behind the ball and offered no way in. Instead, the only way was down for Tottenham and into fifth place they slumped with a whimper here.