Following a disappointing month of November, Spurs went into the festive period in 5th place. They were 1 point behind Arsenal but Liverpool, Burnley, and Watford were closing in behind them. They were top of their Champions League group with one game remaining and the Wembley hoodoo had diminished.
Tottenham Hotspur: December 2017
Harry Kane’s Calendar Year Scoring Record
Watford 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs month didn’t get off to the best of starts. Christian Kabasele gave the Hornets the lead early on before Son Heung-min‘s equaliser on 25 minutes. Davinson Sanchez was sent off at the start of the second half and the game petered out. Having dropped to as low as seventh before the game, this point put Spurs back above Burnley on goal difference. This was the fourth consecutive game without a win for Tottenham.
Mauricio Pochettino admitted his side had to learn how to cope when things were going against them: “We’re in a period now that we are suffering things against us. It is good for the group to try and learn. It is a long-term project. It will be good for the future. You want to win but in tough moments you learn.”
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Stoke City
Spurs finally returned to winning ways with a comprehensive win over relegation-threatened Stoke. An own goal from Ryan Shawcross gave Spurs a 1-0 lead at the break. Son and Kane (2) were both on target in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Christian Eriksen added a fifth late on before Shawcross took advantage of a Hugo Lloris error to score a consolation goal for the Potters. This outstanding win signified Spurs fourth 4-goal league victory over Stoke in a row – no team had ever managed this against another side before.
Pochettino was quick to praise his side for showing their “true quality”: “That is how we need to play from now. Consistency between now and the end of the season is so important if we want to finish in the top four. The team showed their true quality.”
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Tottenham moved back into the top four after this victory over Chris Hughton‘s side. Serge Aurier gave them the lead five minutes before the break when his mis-hit cross flew in over Mathew Ryan. Heung-min Son scored the second in the closing minutes. Tottenham’s evening got even better thanks to Erik Lamela‘s first appearance in over a year. The Argentine had missed the previous 12 months with a serious hip injury.
Mauricio Pochettino was delighted that his side had returned to form: “I think it’s fantastic for us, three victories in a row (in all competitions) – so important for us. I’m happy with the performance. The team deserved it, we dominated the game. We deserved to go to half-time winning the game.”
Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham fell victim to Pep Guardiola‘s rampant side at the Etihad. Ilkay Gundogan gave Man City the lead after 14 minutes. Spurs were holding out well until City’s late surge. Kevin De Bruyne (70′) and Raheem Sterling (80′ and 90′) wrapped up the points for the runaway leaders. Eriksen pulled one back for Spurs in added time.
Despite the defeat, Pochettino was optimistic after the game. He outlined how his side could learn from a game like this. He said “I think it was a good experience for the team, when you win and play well you maybe don’t learn, so you must learn this type of game. We have a lot of positive things because we played a team in very good form with very good momentum.”
Burnley 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
High-flying Burnley were downed in their own backyard by a magnificent Harry Kane hat-trick. Kane’s first came from the penalty spot after seven minutes. He added a second after 69 minutes and completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later. This hat-trick was remarkably Kane’s 7th of 2017. It also put him level with Alan Shearer‘s record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year.
Pochettino said Kane still isn’t at his best: “He can still improve,” he said. “Players arrive at their best at 27, 28, 29. It all depends how professional you are. If he keeps working hard every day in training and never changes that mentality, he can play until he wants. For me, he can still improve his game.”
Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Southampton
Harry Kane wrote his name in Premier League and European football history as he bagged yet another hat-trick. Alli and Son added to Kane’s three goals with Soufiane Boufal and Dusan Tadic both scoring for the Saints. Harry Kane smashed the record of most Premier League goals in a calendar year with 39. He also became the first player since Kaka to outscore Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a calendar year. He beat both superstars despite playing a lot less football than them – he scored a staggering 56 times in 52 games.
According to www.bbc.com, Kane’s record-breaking 2017 featured the following milestones:
- Kane reached his goal-scoring record in 36 games – six fewer than Shearer in 1995
- The 24-year-old has scored more league goals this season than Bournemouth, West Brom, Swansea, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Huddersfield
- He is the first player in Premier League history to score six hat-tricks in a single calendar year
- Kane has scored eight Premier League hat-tricks, as many as Thierry Henry and Michael Owen – only Alan Shearer (11) and Robbie Fowler (9) have more in the competition
- Kane has scored 56 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham and England in 2017. He is Europe’s top scorer over the past 12 months in the five major countries (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France)
- The Spurs striker has now scored 96 Premier League goals for the club – one off Teddy Sheringham’s record
After an outstanding month for the club, and Harry Kane, Spurs sat fifth in the Premier League table. They were a point behind Liverpool, but they were crucially three points above Arsenal. It was a fantastic end to an emotional year at the club but one thing was for certain – the best times were yet to come.