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A win last week at Newcastle would have taken us to forty points; we didn’t quite make it but as Spurs arrive at Burnley this evening we need just two more points to reach the total that is considered safety in the Premier League even though, rarely are so many needed.

It’s a total we’ve reached in each of the last three seasons, exactly that number in two of them, so this season will make it four and surely, with our current total of 38 points, we are just about home and dry for another season in the top flight in 2020/21.

A game against today’s opponents Spurs has always been a special one for me, probably because in my early days of watching the Clarets we had the best two teams in the country. There were some incredible games between us, none more so than the 4-4 draw at White Hart Lane in 1960.

By the end of the decade, things had changed. I saw us take a few hammerings at White Hart Lane and in more recent years we’ve suffered two 5-0 defeats there, one in our inaugural Premier League season and the other more recently in December of last year.

But we go into today’s game in good form, in good spirits and against a Spurs side who have been hit by injuries, indifferent form and players diving into the crowd at the end of games, not as though any of that makes it an easy task for us although should we win it would mean us ending the weekend ahead of both of the North London pair of Arsenal and Spurs which is no mean feat for us with the games remaining then in single figures.

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It’s been picked up by man of the moment, last week’s man of the match James Tarkowski. He said: “This weekend is a great opportunity for us. It’s exciting to  be able to go out there and know if we can get the win we can go above Spurs. Obviously, there are games beyond that we still need to continue to perform in, but what a great opportunity as a team to say if we beat these this weekend, we go above them.”

He added: “It’s an exciting time for us and the club because we can go and chase the teams around us. We haven’t got to just look down below us and just think we’ve got to keep away from them. There are teams around us we can try and chase and get after, so it’s an exciting prospect.”

Tarkowski will line up alongside Ben Mee today in the centre of defence. It’s over a year since that was not the case for a league game when Tarkowski missed three consecutive games during last season against Leicester, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. The last time we won in the Premier League without the pair of them there was in April 2018 when we beat Leicester 2-1 at home.

Sean Dyche has stressed the importance of the pair strongly this week and of the goalkeeper behind them. It’s a strong point for us that all three have played in every game.

They’ll line up today in a team that should be selected from the same squad on duty last week given that Matt Lowton and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson remain out of the reckoning while Ashley Barnes continues to make good progress following his hernia operation.

I suspect Chris Wood could be back today and that would see our team as: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.

It’s strange to see Spurs where they are right now. They ended last season in the Champions League Final, where they were beaten by Liverpool, having finished fourth in the Premier League and qualified for the Champions League this season.

I don’t think anyone envisaged that by now they would be seventh in the league, albeit only five points behind fourth, and I don’t think anyone envisaged that Mauricio Pochettino might have left after five very good seasons.

With the problems of the stadium behind them, which saw them play home games at Wembley for almost two years, everything looked good in the Spurs back garden. But it wasn’t to be. Pochettino went and Jose Mourinho came in. He got off to a decent start during which they beat us 5-0 but with injuries making a big contribution things have got, shall we say, a little more difficult for them.

If you’d asked me at the start of the season which Spurs players would concern me the most if we were playing them, I’m sure I’d have gone for Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. Eriksen has gone; the other two are injured. It certainly doesn’t mean they have a poor team, far from it, but they are never going to be as strong without them as they were with them.

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They’ve conceded 39 goals this season. That’s exactly the same number as we’ve conceded. They’ve scored 46 and that’s thirteen more than us. Kane and Son have scored twenty of those goals; Dele Alli (pictured) is next highest scorer with four and only Lucas Moura, who has scored four, can join that trio with more than two goals.

We know both Kane and Son are out today, as is Moussa Sissoko, but Mourinho is expected to bring back Hugo Lloris in goal; the French international has missed the last two games through injury. The manager has been playing his games though since the Norwich game and has been talking about only being able to prioritise one of their games this week, today’s against us or the midweek Champions League game against RB Leipzig. Don’t believe a word of it. We know what Mourinho is like, we’ve been his victims more than once.

Whichever eleven they put on the pitch today, it will be a strong team, of that I have no doubt. Last week they were beaten 3-2 at home by Wolves in the Premier League. Their team was: Paulo Gazzaniga, Davinson Sánchez, Eric Dier, Japhet Tanganga, Serge Aurier, Giovani Lo Celso, Harry Winks, Ben Davies, Lucas Moura, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn. Subs: Michel Vorm, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Tanguy Ndombele, Oliver Skipp, Gedson Fernandes, Troy Parrott.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

What a day it was for Burnley as we took our run to eight games without defeat with the 2-1 win lifting us to 13th in the table.

The two strikers, Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, scored the goal, either side of a hotly disputed Harry Kane goal, but this was a fantastic team performance.

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All the goals came in the second half. Wood opened the scoring with a terrific header from a corner but Kane equalised when fourth official Craig Pawson ridiculously threw the ball back for them to take a quick thrown in, and in the wrong place. Having said that, they caught us napping.

But it was Barnes who won it for us when he got onto a ball from Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson and scored from close range.

The game was won. It was our best performance of the season and, in my view, our best performance ever in the Premier League. What a result, it took us to 30 points to and with twelve at half way, we didn’t think that would be possible with eleven games remaining.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Robbie Brady 80), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 80), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Matěj Vydra, Peter Crouch.

Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Juan Foyth (Erik Lamela 76), Jan Vertonghen, Serge Aurier, Harry Winks (Fernando Llorente 62), Moussa Sissoko, Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min (Lucas Moura 88), Harry Kane. Subs not used: Paulo Gazzaniga, Kyle Walker-Peters, Ben Davies, Victor Wanyama.

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