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The Roar


Spurs survive red card shocker to go level with Man City as 'staggering' Ange eyes reinforcements

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15th December, 2023

Tottenham have moved level with Manchester City for the Champions League places after goals from Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski earned them a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

But Friday night’s win came at a cost for Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou, who will be without Yves Bissouma following his second-half dismissal.

After a relatively even opening 45 minutes, the visitors went ahead when Kulusevski picked out Richarlison to head home before turning goalscorer to double the advantage.

Bissouma’s 70th-minute dismissal for a high lunge on Ryan Yates made for a nervy final 20 minutes, but Guglielmo Vicario was relatively unscathed as Tottenham made it back-to-back wins for the first time since October.

Postecoglou, who won the first three Manager of the Month awards this season, won some huge praise after the game from former England and Manchester United star Gary Neville.

“We see sometimes managers say that they need time to build a style at a football club. What Ange Postecoglou has done in such a short period of time is quite staggering,” Neville said on Sky Sports.


He’s not only implemented an idea of a play, he’s put something in place that’s breath-taking to watch and that actually is quite complex.

Son Heung-min broke through early down the inside left channel, but saw his close-range effort well blocked by Matt Turner in the Forest goal.

Tottenham dominated the early stages, but their patient build-up play failed to open up the Forest backline and it was the home side who created a great chance to open the scoring with 18 minutes on the clock.

A quick break out of defence saw Morgan Gibbs-White feed an inch-perfect ball down the right to Anthony Elanga, but Vicario was quickly off his line to save.

The Forest counter-attack was a danger to Tottenham and another inviting ball forward just failed to pick out Yates as the visitors were given another warning.

Brennan Johnson came close to breaking the deadlock against his former club when his flicked effort midway through the half was clawed away by Turner, with Ben Davies heading the resulting corner harmlessly over.

Pedro Porro headed wide from Son’s cross, but it was Spurs who broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time.


A quick break down the right saw Kulusevski cut back inside on his left foot and his delightful cross was headed home from close range by Richarlison.

After a somewhat cagey opening to the second half, Forest thought they had drawn level in the 57th minute when Elanga turned home Neco Williams’ cross, but VAR intervention ruled the goal offside.

Son forced another save from Turner before Tottenham doubled their lead when a poor clearance from the Forest No.1 under pressure from Son went straight to Kulusevski and he made him pay when lashing into the net with his right foot.

Forest’s hopes of a comeback were then given a boost with 20 minutes remaining after Bissouma was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Yates following another VAR decision.

Tottenham reacted by withdrawing Richarlison for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to strengthen the midfield.


Williams saw an effort deflected wide before Harry Toffolo saw his header from the resulting corner somehow kept out by Vicario and Williams struck the post deep into stoppage time, but they could find no way through.

Already hampered by injuries, the Bissouma ban could come back to bite Tottenham.

 “It’s a fine line with those things and the players are aware of that, they don’t want to miss games,” said Postecoglou. “We’ve had to deal with that a few times this year. You can’t go on like that because we’ll eventually pay a price for that. It’s a fine line between commitment to what we do and not overstepping the mark.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou has written a list and checked it twice – but is still patiently waiting to discover if Father Christmas has deemed his work naughty or nice this year.

While all Tottenham and Celtic supporters’ would definitely put the Australian in the latter category for 2023, the fanbases of Arsenal or Rangers may have differing opinions. 

Yet regardless of what side of the list Postecoglou ends up on, he knows his wish for Christmas will be difficult to achieve. 


With eight players already out injured and Pape Sarr, Yves Bissouma and captain Son Heung-min set to be absent for at least some of January due to international commitments, the Spurs boss would dearly love to get new signings through the door at the beginning of next month. 

“I wrote my letter to Santa. Like my kids, now I’ve just got to see whether I’ve been naughty or nice and see what I get, mate,” Postecoglou joked when asked about progress on additions ahead of Friday’s game.


“Obviously with where we’re at injury-wise, the players we’re going to miss, we’ve got some significant games in January and signing somebody late in January could mean they haven’t been able to make an impact in those other games. 

“We’re pushing hard but you need all parties to agree to that. 

“Other clubs, particularly if it’s players they want, will be wanting to hold on to them for as long as possible for their own reasons through January. 


“It is a challenge, I get that, but everyone at the club is working hard to get the best outcomes for us and we’ll see how it goes.” 

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Spurs boss Postecoglou has made clear his desire to sign a new centre-back in January and a versatile attacking player is also top of the club’s wishlist.