The generous interpretation of a trivial matter at Turf Moor was that Tottenham stayed the course, remained patient and ultimately got their fair rewards to restore some confidence and progress to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
You might even describe their performance in Wednesday night’s 1-0 win as “engraver” or “professional.”
Granted, Spurs were deserved winners but, really, they didn’t offer enough against an abject Burnley to suggest they are able to step up the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during Manchester United’s visit to north London Saturday.
Lucas Moura’s well-scored goal made the difference and if Harry Kane or Giovani Lo Celso had been more clinical, Spurs would have won more comfortably.
Nonetheless, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have managed to complete consecutive halves without testing the opposing keeper after their failure to shoot on target after the break in the 1-0 loss to West Ham and they need to show more life in attack to take advantage of an injured United.
Solskjaer’s side will be shaky after their 5-0 humiliation by Liverpool and an aggressive and quick start in front of their fans would surely see Spurs exposing cracks in the visitors.
The problem is, Nuno’s Spurs only fleetingly seemed capable of producing this kind of stifling football – especially in the first half of the loss to Chelsea – and their lack of creativity remains a real concern.
In 11 games under the Portuguese against the Premier League opposition, Spurs have yet to win by more than a single goal, and a total of four shots on target against the Clarets offered little reason to to encourage.
“We must improve on this point, finish the actions more [often]”, Admitted Lucas, who called on his teammates to show more individual brilliance.
“Sometimes we have to show our talents more individually, that’s what I tried to do when I walked in last night. I tried to create opportunities and create space, but it was good. We were solid and left them no space and we could have scored more goals.
More sparks from Kane and the supporting cast would be welcome, and the England captain endured another frustrating night at Turf Moor, ruining his chances in the first half twice.
Individual brilliance will only get Spurs so far, however, and they remain a team lacking in cohesion as an attacking unit. These are few noticeable patterns of attacking play and little evidence of the partnerships that characterized José Mourinho’s reign. These shortcomings ultimately boil down to Nuno’s work on the training ground.
Spurs look like a team waiting for a stroke of luck or an individual quality piece in the final third.
Heung-min Son’s return to the XI against United will make the difference, especially as the South Korean and Kane have shown flashes of their record-breaking partnership in games against Newcastle and Hammers.
“It’s always difficult to keep doing the same thing,” Lucas said of Kane, who played a role in the goal before Emerson Royal crossed for his compatriot, and also created a chance for Lo. Celso.
“I’m sure he’ll be back to his best soon. He works hard, fights hard and is very important to us.
A bright spot for Nuno was the determination of his defensive unit, as Spurs weathered a period of late pressure from Burnley, with Royal, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez impressive.
Spurs have tightened since their losing streak in the London derby in September and no longer seem likely to send in goals. Their challenge now is to start marking them.