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.

peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
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

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions