Spurs left to lament burden of Wembley
Tottenham are lauded for the stylish passing football that has made them title challengers for two successive seasons, but are they aggressive enough against the weaker teams to grind out results?
Manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded that the title is beyond Spurs after West Bromwich Albion did what most other lower-ranking teams have done when visiting the hosts' temporary home at Wembley.
A side without a Premier League win in 11 games, led by caretaker manager Gary Megson, defended deeply, allowed Spurs to have plenty of possession in two-thirds of the pitch, and hoped to score on the break.
That opportunity came earlier than they expected when Jake Livermore nicked the ball from Dele Alli in the fourth minute and sent Salomon Rondon clear to hold off a flailing Davinson Sanchez and trickle a scuffed shot in off the far post.
It was a "sloppy" start as captain Hugo Lloris conceded, but Tottenham recovered enough composure to gradually put together the sort of passing game that has seen off Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Liverpool in style at Wembley.
Harry Kane rescued a point with his 40th goal of 2017, a poacher's conversion from Alli's cross in the 74th minute, but it is not enough and Pochettino knows it.
Admitting the gap between his team and Manchester City looks too great now, the manager spoke about the "reality" of Tottenham's situation, playing at Wembley, struggling to break down teams, and of winning only one of their past four league games, meaning eight points have been dropped.
"That is our reality," he said, while also ruling out any January signings for a squad still missing key players Toby Alderweireld, Victor Wanyama and Erik Lamela, who has been out for more than a year.
The Argentinian forward is close to a return but missed Saturday's game to be at the birth of his first child. When it was put to Pochettino that he could be the sort of 'unpredictable' player to open up a stubborn defence, the manager responded: "It was not about Lamela, he has not been playing for a year."
Meanwhile, Alan Pardew confirmed he has held talks with West Brom and now looks likely to be named the next full-time manager at the Hawthorns. (© Daily Telegraph, London)