Spurs move within three points of league leaders Man City after beating Everton but boss Redknapp insists a top four finish remains his main objective
TOTTENHAM 2 vs EVERTON 0
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp is stubbornly refusing to dream of ending the club’s 51-year wait to win the top-flight title -- and says he will be happy just to finish above hated neighbours and rivals Arsenal.
Aaron Lennon’s solo goal and a Benoit Assou-Ekotto howitzer despatched Everton, comfortably maintaining the club’s superb home record and lifting them level on points with second-placed Manchester United.
Premier League leaders Manchester City are only three points in front, and could be caught on Saturday, but Redknapp (inset) is resisting the urge to be swept up in talk of beating the north-west juggernauts to the top prize.
“If we make the Champions League I wouldn’t be that disappointed,” he said. “We’ve only ever finished above Arsenal once I think so finishing above them would be a great achievement.
“I know we’re level with Man United but I couldn’t tell you how many points the teams behind us have. All I’m thinking about is how we’re going to play against Wolves.”
Eight points ahead of Chelsea, in fourth, and nine clear of Arsenal, Redknapp’s side will draw level with pace-setters City, who play on Monday, if their relentless points-harvesting at White Hart Lane continues on Saturday.
This fixture had been due to be played on the opening day of the season but was postponed because of the riots that scarred the capital, since when Tottenham have added an uncharacteristic consistency to their traditional flair.
They were some way short of flamboyant here but benefited from the return of Lennon, whose penetration down the right counterbalanced Gareth Bale’s swashbuckling left-wing sojourns and produced the opening goal in the 35th minute.
Assou-Ekotto’s raking diagonal ball searched out the England winger, who took it inside and beat Leighton Baines in one movement and fired a tame but precise shot through the legs of Sylvain Distin to wrong-foot Tim Howard.
Bale was given licence to roam and, having burst onto a glorious Rafael van der Vaart pass to set up a wasteful Emmanuel Adebayor early on, he showcased his explosive quality again after the break when he forced a sharp save from Howard.
Spurs were turning the screw and sealed an eighth home win in their last night matches at White Hart Lane in the 63rd minute when Assou-Ekotto conjured a marvellous 35-yarder that sailed into the top-right corner.
When Assou-Ekotto galloped forward in the 63rd minute Tottenham coach Joe Jordan yelled ‘Shoot!’. From so far out it seemed ambitious, but the full-back located Tim Howard’s top corner and ensured Spurs, as their fans delight in singing, go marching on.
We played OK and made a few chances ourselves but we needed to be clinical when we had them and we weren't. We tried to give Tottenham a game and I think we did. Tottenham are doing well and so is their manager. They are title contenders and are a really good team. Everton manager David Moyes
Spurs have long been known as artful but fallible, gallant nearly men. Some of the thrills may have waned, in part because even teams such as Everton and Aston Villa now come to White Hart Lane to defend, but they have gained a consistency, patience and relentlessness. Few fans will complain about fewer seven-goal thrillers if they finish in the top four.