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What we learned from Tottenham’s late win at West Brom

Their promising start to the season was initially based on scintillating attacking football, demonstrated by big wins over Southampton and Manchester United.

But Jose Mourinho‘s side have played with undue caution since their late collapse against West Ham and they were lucky to take maximum points again at the Hawthorns, following the scrappy wins over Burnley and Brighton.

Perhaps scarred by the 3-3 draw with the Hammers, Spurs have seemed to play with the handbrake on while relying on their celebrated front three to provide moments of inspiration in front of goal.

Against Burnley, it was Heung-min Son who scored a late winner; against Brighton, it was Gareth Bale; and here, it was Kane.

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Another late win for Spurs

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Mourinho underlined his remarkable options in attack by naming all of the ‘big three’ in the starting XI for the first time, with Bale making his first League start after scoring from the bench last weekend.

It was a front line to strike fear into the hearts of any defence in the world but the trio spent the majority of drab first half chasing long balls and tracking back, as West Brom forced Spurs onto the back foot more often than Mourinho would have liked.

Spurs only looked totally happy on the counter-attack, and they moved the ball slowly – perhaps feeling the effects of Thursday’s match in Bulgaria.

Son should really have broken the deadlock after a smart break involving Bale and Tanguy Ndombele but the South Korean dithered in the box, took too many touches and his shot was eventually blocked.

Mourinho’s side offered little else in the way of big chances until the Portuguse began to ring the changes in the second half.

Giovani Lo Celso should really have scored his first Premier League goal moments after his introduction for Ndombele on the hour – but fired wide from seven yards out.

The addition of Carlos Vinicius increased Tottenham’s presence in the box, and the Brazilian was alongside Kane when the England captain finally broke the deadlock with a deft flick from Doherty’s cross.

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Kane came up trumps again

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It felt harsh on the hosts but was a testament to the character being established at Spurs under Mourinho, even if nine points from the last three matches is a generous return.

If Tottenham continue to employ a cautious approach against inferior opposition, their luck will surely run out eventually but, at the same time, they are forming a hugely encouraging habit of winning games while not playing at their free-flowing best – often hailed as the sign of a great team.

Sterner tests await after the international break but so far Mourinho can point to the league table and having built a solid foundation for the rest of the season.

Kane brings up Premier League 150

After reaching 200 Spurs goals in Thursday’s win over Ludogorets, Kane brought up 150 in the Premier League win a late header to break West Brom’s resolve.  

He moved to ninth in the competition’s list of all-time top scorers, level with Michael Owen and ahead of Les Ferdinand, and he could easily break into the top seven by the end of this campaign.

The performances of Son and Bale at the Hawthorns were a reminder that the former can still blow hot and cold, and that the latter is still some way from full fitness. Both offered little in the way of a goal threat and Son was lucky to stay on the pitch, while Bale was replaced by Vinicius.

Kane, by contrast, has now reached a level of consistency where he never disappoints, regardless of the match conditions and the form of his teammates.  

As Mourinho pointed out afterwards, even when he is not scoring, Kane is always one of Tottenham’s best players.

The increase in quality and competition in Spurs’ squad should have made them less reliant on Kane. But the 27-year-old has simply stepped up and, for all the riches at Mourinho’s disposal, Kane feels as important to the club as ever.

Dier growing into defensive role

Tottenham’s outstanding performer – Kane aside – was Eric Dier.  

Starting for the third time in a week, Dier made two vital interventions in the first half, blocking a goal-bound effort and heading away a cross from almost under Hugo Lloris’ crossbar. He was strong, vocal and composed throughout.

The England international has not always looked assured since moving permanently into the back line but he is improving with every match and has had a good week.  

There is now little doubt that he and Toby Alderweireld are Spurs’ strongest pairing at centre-half and their displays since West Ham suggest Mourinho is finally getting to grips with a defence that seem to barely improve after his appointment a year ago.

There is still work to do and much fiercer tests await after the international break – with Spurs to face Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal in succession – but the signs are positive for Dier and Co.


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