Booking against Burnley could be turning point for Spurs midfielder
- Credit: Archant
It isn’t often that a yellow card turns out to be the springboard for a positive transformation in a player’s fortunes.
But it may just be that, over the course of the season, Spurs supporters have cause to look back and thank Kevin Friend for his decision to book Moussa Sissoko on Sunday.
Few could have complained if Friend had ordered the big Frenchman off the White Hart Lane pitch for his high, clumsy lunge on Stephen Ward just minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 win over Burnley.
Clarets boss Sean Dyche certainly felt the midfielder should have seen red – not least because the referee’s apparent show of mercy gave Sissoko the opportunity to set up Danny Rose’s winning goal soon afterwards.
The surging run through central midfield, the perfectly-timed release of the ball to Rose – it was exactly what Tottenham must have had in mind when they forked out £30m to bring Sissoko south in the summer.
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The former Newcastle player seemed to be inspired by his let-off and another burst from midfield created an opportunity for Heung-Min Son to wrap up victory – which he was unable to take.
Overall, many fans felt that Sissoko’s last two appearances – against Hull and then Burnley – have been his best in a Spurs shirt to date – and, to be truthful, there aren’t many other candidates.
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Until Sunday, the midfielder’s most notable contribution to the campaign had been his elbow on Bournemouth’s Harry Arter that ultimately led to a three-match suspension back in October.
Following the 3-0 win over Hull, Sissoko admitted it had taken him time to adapt to the style of training and play at Tottenham and the philosophy espoused by Mauricio Pochettino.
However, if Sissoko can build on those glimpses of the form he displayed on a regular basis during three and a half years at St James’ Park, there is every reason to be optimistic about his future as a Spurs player.
His Tottenham captain and international team-mate Hugo Lloris said: “I am very pleased for Moussa. He is a great guy and it was not an easy period.
“He is showing in the last three games that he is getting better and stronger and [against Burnley] he helped the team make the difference with a great assist.”
It may be worth recalling some of the other Tottenham players who have endured ‘not an easy period’ after that initial move to the Lane. Gareth Bale, of course, is an obvious example and so, in the current line-up, is Eric Dier.
Should Sissoko also succeed in putting his slow start behind him, Spurs fans might yet come to regard that cheque to Newcastle as money well spent.