Last night Spurs cruised to an easy win against Villa in the League Cup. Four goals, all of them good but the first was a peach, Defoe delicately heading in Holtby’s delightful chip, delivered with the touch of a major-winning golfer that took out the entire defence in a single moment.
One theme of the blog this season has been the club’s development in the safe hands of Villas-Boas, now that he has the unequivocal backing of his chairman. Our Andre is rightly keen to have a go at all competitions and play a strong team in the early rounds of the EL and League Cup. I agree but it was clear to both of us that players tired towards the end of last season. He’s put that right by improving the quality and depth of the squad. Now we have genuine choices and the players are ambitious to play regularly.
Just take a look at the team sheets from last night – Villa fielded a reserve side, we put out an alternative first team. Not only that, he has players who suit his preferred basic system, so they slot in and are comfortable together. Different players, same set-up. When changes are made, they all slot in smoothly, rather than fitting together like an Ikea cupboard in the hands of yours truly. They know their manager wants them to do. There remains uncertainty – we weren’t as fluent as we can be for much of the time – but it works very well.
Contrast with a couple of years ago. We played a home Europa League tie, PAOK I think but can’t recall (sums up the EL but there you go), brought in decent players to the back four but they had not played together as a unit. Result – chaos and defeat. You sense that won’t happen under Our Andre. Three matches in six days, all won and rather than being tired, Spurs have created a winning momentum to take into Saturday and beyond.
Unfortunately there’s a limit to the value of games like these in judging the true merit of our players, because they get more space than is the case in the Premier League. However, Holtby stood out like a beacon, all effort and he’s got that left foot working a treat. As on Sunday, he found the channels and willing runners. He’s clearly desperate to become a first choice.
Sandro and Paulinho have the air of a long-term partnership that is going to be so good, and another goal from Paulinho, this one from a near post corner. Defoe took his chances well, scoring a second by taking the ball calmly round the keeper. He also had a hand in the build up for Chadli’s effort, our third, and began the move that led to his opener. Kane did well enough too, showing that he’s best not as an out and striker but when he can move around up front.
Having said all of this, Villa could have come back into the game when Tottenham were a goal up, after an incident which some are calling one of the best moments in football they have ever seen. Helenius ran through on goal, Vertonghen in hot pursuit. Superjan fell over and as he tumbled, grabbed the nearest point of stability, which happened to be the Villa player’s shorts. They came down but Helenius stayed upright, valiantly shooting with his shorts around his ankles, exposing his jockstrap to the watching millions. It’s what the game needs to remain popular.
No complaints if that had been a penalty and if so, Jan would have been sent-off. However, the referee allowed play to continue, I guess because he judged that Helenius did not seem to be impeded greatly. We can laugh about it now, suspect Paul Lambert isn’t amused. For Spurs, another four goals, none conceded, plus a feeling that things are going our way. Can’t complain about that.
I can’t claim to have seen every second of this one due to a combination of a flickering stream and domestic chores. Tottenham On My Mind – the Spurs blog that’s HONEST about housework. Ask yourselves this – do other blogs have an explicit position on hoovering?
Also a slight disruption to the routine at home this season, hence a couple of missed matches. I won’t dupe you into believing I have seen a match when in fact I haven’t so I would rather not write a report. But I’m still around, as a few regulars have asked, and no plans to change what the blog covers.
Yesterday’s launch of the Stop Stubhub campaign led by Spurs writers and the Supporters Trust generated a real buzz. Register your support by signing the petition here: www.change.org/stopstubhub More info, including our statement in yesterday’s article