A picturesque Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was the scene of this fascinating clash, and it promised to be very tactically intriguing. Brentford were forced to play without their star man Ivan Toney for the first time since his ban, and Spurs decided to stray away from their usual back five setup – a move that a large majority of Tottenham fans had been calling for.
TOT: Forster; Davies, Lenglet, Sanchez, Emerson; Son, Skipp, Bissouma, Danjuma; Kane, Kulusevski
BRE: Raya; Henry, Mee, Pinnock, Hickey; Jensen, Janelt, Onyeka; Schade, Wissa, Mbeumo
Ryan Mason’s tactical shift played dividends immediately for the hosts, as they were enjoying possession in a way which we have rarely seen this season. The return of Bissouma in the middle, as well as an extra attacking player up the pitch, allowed them to become a lot more threatening in attack.
The start of the game provided the Tottenham squad and their fans with a lot of positive signs, but as is so often the case, they relied on a moment of pure genius from Harry Kane to open the scoring. Spurs had won a free kick nearly 30 yards out, and Kane and Kulusevski stood over it. Upon the sounding of the referee’s whistle, Kulusevski ran over the ball, shifting it slightly to the side. Harry Kane then ran on to it, striking the ball with impeccable technique to pick out the top corner of David Raya’s goal. The strike was so pure and powerful – a true reflection of the Englishman’s excellence.
After the first goal was scored, the home side remained on top for the remainder of the first half. They were not clinical, however, as Son was denied by Raya after going through one-on-one, and an Emerson Royal header was cleared off the line by Rico Henry, ensuring the score remained 1-0 at the break.
Despite a quiet first half, Brentford made sure to punish Spurs for not taking their chances earlier in the game. Only five minutes into the second half, Wissa picked up the ball on the edge of the box and laid it off to Mbuemo. In one fluid motion, he shifted the ball onto his left foot and curled it into the bottom right corner past Forster, levelling the game.
But the Bees were not done there. Just after the 60 minute mark, Mbuemo stepped up once again, taking the goalscoring responsibilities from his banned strike partner. Aaron Hickey played a beautifully weighted pass in behind the Tottenham defence, and Mbuemo latched onto it inside the 18 yard box. From a tight angle, he placed the ball into the far corner, sending the travelling support into frenzy.
Spurs looked to create pressure and forge some opportunities for themselves against a rigid Brentford defence, but their attacks were ineffective and toothless. Their first half momentum was been completely diffused, and this was emphasised in the 88th minute. Oliver Skipp had the ball on the edge of his own area, but he was unaware of his surroundings and dispossessed. Mbeumo won it and slid in Yoane Wissa who kept his composure to make it 3-1, piling on Tottenham’s misery.
The three points are massive for Brentford, as it keeps their hopes of European football alive. The gap to Tottenham in seventh is now only one point, meaning the fate of the two clubs will be decided on the final day of the season.