With that other team from north London losing at the weekend, a point against Aston Villa was enough to leave Spurs in third place. In fact, given the number of chances that the team created, a win looked the more likely result as the game wore on, with Harry Redknapp reflecting that:
"We dominated and I'm sure Martin (O'Neill) was happier to hear the final whistle than I was. There was only one team going to win it in the second half and it was just a case of getting the goal - once we equalised I was sure we were going to go on and win it ... We knew it would be tough, they are a good side and they've had some great results at Villa Park but it was one-way traffic in the second half. I was delighted with how we played, we pushed them back, played some great football and made all the chances."
Many of those chances resulted from another outstanding display by Niko Kranjcar, who was clearly the best player on the field. With Spurs pressing for a winner, it was, therefore, an astonishing decision by the manager to replace him with Robbie Keane with almost a quarter of an hour still remaining. Keane's contribution was, needless to say, zero. Redknapp had observed before the game that "Robbie always wants to play. Robbie would not want to be left too often for sure, so he'll be available, and we'll have to look at it."
Sure enough, Keane got on, as the manager continued with his policy of accommodating the Irishman whatever the cost. Redknapp would no doubt claim that he was making a positive move by introducing a third striker but the truth of the matter was plain to see - the game's most creative and influential player was taken off for one whose influence is, more often than not, negligible.
Thankfully, the team as a whole once again played well, a somewhat subdued Crouch and Defoe aside. Dawson was clearly energized by being given the captain's armband, and added to his customary 110% effort with a well-taken goal. One very pleasing aspect of the performance was that Spurs dominated a good Villa side despite the absence of the likes of Woodgate, King and Modric. Outside of the first team, the squad contains players of proven ability or exciting potential. Although one or two of them - most obviously Pavlyuchenko - may leave in January, it appears that there is little need for the manager to add to the existing personnel. The one exception may be a goalkeeper, to take the place of the injured Carlo Cudicini.
Before the transfer window opens, Spurs face Everton, Wolves, Man. City, Blackburn, Fulham and West Ham in the Premier League. On current form, there is every reason to suppose that the team will begin 2010 with their position in the top four consolidated.