After a third home win in a week, Tottenham can finally banish talk of a Wembley hoodoo as Lady Luck shines on Spurs once more, writes Pete Hall.
Tottenham’s exhilarating display in the September win over Borussia Dortmund seemed like the perfect way to end their wretched run at their temporary home.
Two wins from 12 games at the rebuilt Wembley hung heavy over a Spurs side desperate to continue their progress under Mauricio Pochettino, but the way they put Dortmund to the sword looked to have banished any supposed hoodoos for good.
Mauricio Pochettino says his side deserved their lucky first goal and praised their ‘fantastic’ performance in the 2-0 win over Brighton in the Premier League
Yet, since, Spurs have been lacklustre to say the least at the national stadium. There have been flat draws against struggling Swansea and West Brom, defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup, and several unconvincing victories. Was the curse back?
“The feeling is much better when you play away from home than at Wembley,” Pochettino said ahead of Spurs’ clash with Leicester, which they lost. The mood was anything but positive in the Spurs dressing room.
However, after three home wins in a week – in which Spurs have scored 10 and conceded once – the mood has changed, but not just because of the results, but the way they have come about.
Highlights of Tottenham's 2-0 win against Brighton
Spurs were again looking sluggish against Stoke at the weekend. In the first 20 minutes against an out-of-form side, Tottenham created one half chance, which was easily gathered by Jack Butland in the away goal. The groans were audible from all around, as fans were expecting another difficult afternoon in surroundings most have not exactly warmed to.
Nonetheless, back Spurs came, and they took the lead via an own goal. Some welcome good fortune, which they built upon to thrash a hapless Stoke 5-0.
Pochettino called for Spurs to retain that intensity for the visit of Brighton in his programme notes, but it was the same story in the early stages on Wednesday night. Wembley was deathly quiet as Spurs went from side to side trying to unlock Brighton, and but for a few blocked shots, the visitors held firm relatively comfortably.
Highlights of Tottenham 5-1 Stoke
Yet, Spurs got lucky once more. Just as the travelling Brighton fans had finished another verse of “is this the Emirates” in reference to how quiet the Wembley crowd were, Lady Luck was shining down on Spurs as Serge Aurier’s cross evaded everyone and flew into the net.
By definition, a hoodoo is witchcraft or a curse, but two such goals in a week do not work in favour of a team who are cursed.
Spurs did not even need to up their game to secure another three points, as they laboured to victory, but the mood around the stadium was more of relief than joy at the final whistle – this is a team getting the rub of the green.
And an upturn in fortune breeds confidence. If you feel like things are working against you, teams go into matches already in the back foot. Three wins in a week, even when not at their best, and Spurs feel like they can beat anyone, even at home.
“I am so positive,” Pochettino said after the match. “What happens on Saturday, who knows? We go to Manchester [City] to try to win. Football is football. In the last week, we have got three wins, and that is so important for us. We now feel we can stay higher in the table.
What a difference a week makes. To go from talk of enjoying playing away more than at home to claims they can beat the runaway Premier League leaders next weekend at the Etihad. Pochettino spoke like man with a weight lifted from his mind. The hoodoo is gone, and maybe for good this time.