James Maddison insists Tottenham can still do something special this season after he got the last laugh over Neal Maupay following a chaotic 3-2 home win over Brentford.
A fiery clash between the London rivals appeared to be sparked by Maupay mocking Maddison with his own darts celebration after he put the visitors ahead in the 15th minute.
Referee David Coote struggled to control both players in the first half, but Spurs regained focus after the break and scored three times in eight minutes through Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison.
It ensured Ivan Toney’s late strike was mere consolation and Maddison was happy to poke fun at Maupay during his post-match interview before the pair traded blows on Instagram.
Maddison started the war of words with the caption “a short story” beneath three pictures – one of Maupay celebrating, one of Maddison with his arms aloft and one of the final score – before the Frenchman hit back, writing: “Went a bit early with that one. Gutted we couldn’t get the win. More goals and less relegations in my career than James Maddison. We go again Monday bees.”
Asked about Maupay, Maddison told TNT Sports: “I said to him, he probably hasn’t scored enough goals of his own in the last few years to have his own celebration, so he had to copy mine. A short story and it ended well for us.”
He added: “I feel really positive. We’ve had a very stop-start season with injuries and suspensions. We started really well and had the same XI for 10 or 11 games in a row, which is very rare in the Premier League. That Chelsea game (which Spurs lost 4-1) was a crazy game.
“The main question I get asked is, ‘What’s the aim for Tottenham this year?’ I don’t think the gaffer wants to put a limit on it.
“There’s no ceiling because there’s more chance of something special happening. We’re three points behind second place, so let’s not put a ceiling on it. Let’s take it game by game.
“We could go on a run. If you don’t believe something special can happen, then nothing can ever happen.”
The Chelsea game was the match in which Maddison suffered ankle ligament damage, which ruled him out for the best part of three months.
Spurs lost four of their first five matches without him, but look well placed for a strong finish to the Premier League season.
Maddison said: “It’s lovely to be back. When you’re starved doing what you love, that reminded me why I love football.
“The first half was stop-start, a lot of stoppages, which is how they have been successful.
“Second half we created a lot of chances, scored some goals, but it’s never simple – there’s always a lot of goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”
Brentford were able to leave north London with plenty of positives, with Toney on target again in his second match since he returned from a betting ban.
Toney scored under the watchful eye of England boss Gareth Southgate and has been backed to get even better.
“He has been working very hard to come back to the level,” Bees boss Thomas Frank said.
“The first game he played 90 plus 15 against Nottingham (Forest) and today also. Hopefully with a little bit more rhythm, he will come even sharper, but it is five or 10 per cent maximum.
“I think his touches look good and he is a threat.”