Redknapp puts heat on City

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Everton 0

WhiteHart Lane

With 18 games left, only goal different separates Tottenham Hotspur from second-placed Manchester United. Only three more points separates them from the lead. These are remarkable facts, given the nature of the Premier League. But, with every victory – last night they beat a good Everton side without ever looking like they might not – the authenticity, the reality of their title challenge becomes more obvious.

This routine win was meant to be the first game of Tottenham's season: back in mid-August, before the arrivals of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor, before the victory in the Luka Modric transfer saga, only for the local riots to intervene. Moved five months down the track, Tottenham met it with more momentum than any other team in the League would have. The victory, owing to a first-half goal from Aaron Lennon and a second-half strike from Benoit Assou-Ekotto was Spurs' 14th from their last 18 League games.

Harry Redknapp knows the strength of his team's position. "I've been saying all along that it's not impossible to win the title," he said afterwards. "It's difficult, but it's not impossible. It's very very hard, but we've got a chance, we're in there. That's all we can do."

Rather than inflating expectations, though, Redknapp is keen to focus on the immediate. "I don't ever look any further than just Wolves on Saturday," he insisted, "I couldn't tell you in all honesty the points totals of the teams behind us. I just worry about Wolves coming here on Saturday, that's all I'll be thinking about driving home tonight."

Events at the very top of the table cannot possibly have evaded Redknapp's attention, though. Manchester City are three points clear of Spurs but have lost three of their four games this month. Redknapp insisted that they were the team under the most strain: "I think the pressure's on Manchester City. You look at their squad, you look at the type of money they've been able to spend. People like [Sergio] Aguero, and [Edin] Dzeko, [Samir] Nasri. The wages and the money they've spent on players, they're expected to be there and win the championship – certainly them or Man United are red-hot favourites this year."

None of those sides is currently playing with the confidence and fluidity of Tottenham. At no stage last night did it look as if they would not emerge with the three points; a reliable an indicator of championship-form. Another indicator is the successful reintegration of players: Lennon and Michael Dawson returned for their first League starts since December and August respectively.

Injuries forced David Moyes into one of his more adventurous sides of the season: with two strikers and a midfield made up of Marouane Fellaini and three attacking players. Fellaini was good enough to make it difficult for Spurs though, diligent and vigilant throughout, storming into necessary tackles as Tottenham took 30 minutes to start making chances.

Spurs' rhythm eventually came. Their movement improved, and referee Martin Atkinson had to turn down two penalty appeals. A brilliant counter-attack, from Rafael van der Vaart to Gareth Bale to Adebayor, ended with the big centre-forward's touch betraying him in front of goal. Van der Vaart curled a first-time shot onto the roof of the net.

One minute later they were ahead. Assou-Ekotto played a long cross-field ball to Lennon, which Leighton Baines misjudged. Lennon took advantage, burst into the box and squeezed his shot under Sylvain Distin and into the corner.

With only a one-goal deficit, Moyes knew the game was still within reach. He switched Landon Donovan with Victor Anichebe, and the sharper movement nearly won them useful opportunities. The tempo needed to be consistent across the pitch, though, and it was not.

Midway through the second half Assou-Ekotto had the ball 40 yards from goal but faced no concerted effort to take it back from him. Under urging from Joe Jordan to shoot, he stepped forward and swung his foot through the ball, which deflected off Tim Cahill's behind and into the far top corner.

Royston Drenthe came on, and twice went down in the area, without reward. Redknapp was able to bring on Steven Pienaar and Roman Pavlyuchenko, as Spurs continued their pursuit.

Man of the match Assou-Ekotto.

Match rating 5/10.

Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Attendance 36,132.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat