A typical theme emerged at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon: Tottenham Hotspur were far from their scintillating best but they were once again able to clinch three vital points.
Tottenham supporters will certainly be far from overwhelmed by the quality of their club’s performances in recent weeks, but if they are capable of clinching 21 points from nine fixtures during a difficult spell, who knows what they can achieve when they finally return to their devastating best.
1-0 victories rarely arrive without at least one heart dropping moment and Tottenham’s win was no exception. With the clock edging towards the 90th minute mark, Marko Arnautovic played an intricate one-two with Javier Hernandez and the Austrian powered beyond Davinson Sanchez into the penalty area, but Hugo Lloris scampered off his line to deny him an emphatic equaliser.
It was not the only time that Lloris proved to be Arnautovic’s nemesis as he made an equally impressive save at full-stretch to deny him earlier in the 2nd half when his header appeared destined to reach the net.
In the aftermath of proceedings, BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks paid tribute to Lloris (valued at £27 million by Transfermarkt) by naming him in his team of the week column, although he had a few choice words to say about him and Mauricio Pochettino’s post-match admission concerning Tottenham’s number one.
‘I might be a Tottenham fan, but I’m not a fan of Hugo Lloris. For a top-class goalkeeper, he makes too many errors in the games that matter. The World Cup final was a typical example.’
But Crooks later went on to add: ‘Nevertheless, he makes my team because of an excellent performance against a West Ham side who should have got something from the game.’
The praise then turned from backhanded to almost completely substanceless as Crooks slated Pochettino for his post-match comments.
‘The claim from Mauricio Pochettino that Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the world is extremely generous.’
Lloris is a goalkeeper who has divided opinion in recent weeks with his antics away from the field serving to tarnish his reputation, but there is no denying that he is one of the world’s best on his day.
Sure, he completely lost his concentration in the World Cup final and made a foolish mistake as a consequence, but ultimately it counted for nothing and that particular scenario is hardly worth revisiting in the context of his ability to compete with the world’s best.
Pochettino has never been one to shy away from gushing over his players in the public eye and it’s clearly a tactic which has paid dividends for the Argentine in his career thus far.
Perhaps Pochetino went slightly overboard with his generosity in his post-match analysis, but the last-gasp save Lloris made to deny Arnautovic proved that, if he irons out his very occasional lapses in concentration, he will certainly deserve a place in the elite goalkeeping bracket.
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