Shortly after Newcastle’s second went in, fork lightning split the night sky and loud claps of thunder echoed around the Tottenham Stadium.
At that moment, upstart Newcastle had gone fourth and plainly the gods of Big Six entitlement – those Super League break away clubs, who seem to think it is their divine right to share football’s riches and prizes – were not happy. It was more pathetic defending than pathetic fallacy, but you get the idea. This isn’t meant to happen. Not so soon, anyway.
Newcastle’s win yanked Chelsea out of the top four places, and left them peering down at Manchester United and Liverpool, too. They are two points behind Tottenham and while Arsenal and Manchester City will take some catching and have a game in hand, this was a win of great maturity and potential.
Newcastle withstood some periods of storm – and not just from the skies – and picked Tottenham off in an impressive spell at the end of the first-half. Callum Wilson scored, his third consecutive league goal for Newcastle against Tottenham, having never scored against them for Bournemouth – and Miguel Almiron is in the form of his life right now. Newcastle are defensively organised and pose an increasing threat going forward. Eddie Howe has done an outstanding job. They are on a far steeper trajectory than was first imagined, and it hasn’t been achieved simply by throwing money at the problem.
Money helps, of course. Yet Newcastle’s biggest investment Alexander Isak is missing injured and this is more about Howe blending what he had with what the club could affor within the rules, and doing so intelligently. Can they stay there? Why not
Tottenham reacted furiously, impotently. Gillett gave it and Coote rightly did not advise otherwise. Rodrigo Bentancur was booked for protesting but the goal stood. Soon, Lloris would err again, and Tottenham would go two goals down.
Just nine minutes later, the Frenchman tried to find Ryan Sessegnon with a chip to the flank. It was poorly directed, the header instead won by Sean Longstaff, finding Miguel Almiron, one of the most in-form players in the Premier League right now. He set off on a run, shrugged off Sessegnon as he tried to recover, gliding past the equally ineffectual Clement Lenglet on his route to goal. It was a tight angle but Lloris was his opponent. One player full of confidence, the other full of regret. Almiron stuck it past him perfectly, his fifth goal in as many games.
Strangely, Tottenham had started brightly after their dismal display at Manchester United in midweek. Antonio Conte made five changes from that match – some plainly punishments, some through injury, others perhaps with one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon – but with three minutes Harry Kane, Oliver Skipp and Yves Bissouma had combined to tee up Hueng-min Son on the edge of the area, his shot flying narrowly over the bar.
He was through one on one soon after, Nick Pope making a fine save with an outstretched leg before Schar cleared as the ball spun towards the line. In the 29th minute, Kane went through with similar counter-attacking fervour, Pope again equal to it with his feet.
Yet there remained a feeling something might give. Newcastle can claim to be the strongest defensive unit in the Premier League right now, but in Kane and Son it might be argued Tottenham have the best attacking pairing. In the 54th minute, they prevailed.
Son took the corner from the left which Lenglet won with a flicked header towards the near post. At the far post, Kane stooped low to nod it across the line. VAR checked to see whether Emerson Royal, possibly in an offside position, also got an assisting touch. It would have required Snicko to judge that and football isn’t currently using heat or sound sensitive technology. So Coote went the common sense route again, and the goal stood.