Spurs Celebrate. A Decent Corner!

So is everything well if we win? It’s a question that applies to Spurs away these days, not just yesterday’s 2-1 victory at Swansea. I’m enjoying the win today, lifted my mood, as did Villa and Hull. Always a three-point spring in my step. But a glance at the table this morning and my first instinct was to look down not up, even if we are a mere two points below a European place with a home League Cup QF the day after tomorrow.

“Win ugly”? No doubt that parts of all three games have been positively grotesque. “Part of our development.”? We’ve seldom taken any lessons into the next home games, Everton being the exception.

Swansea manager Monk reached for the time-honoured boxing analogy to describe politely his assessment of the match: “If it had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped.” Doubtless he used more colourful language in the dressing room as his side failed to capitalise on their dominance during the majority of this game. Probably not a good time to note his flawed analogy: to score points in boxing you have to land a punch. Swansea’s real problem was the number of missed chances with shots fizzing past the woodwork rather than keeping Lloris busy.

Our man Poch meanwhile predictably took some positives away, feeling that he’s beginning to get his methods across to the players. There’s some welcome truth in that but judging by our inconsistency, it’s taking longer than he or the supporters hoped. My only wish is that we go for something more upbeat than the ‘let’s wait for the opposition to miss’ defensive tactic that featured prominently yesterday.

Spurs began and ended the game on a positive note, controlling possession and taking the play to the opposition in keeping with Pochettino’s admirably attacking team selection. From kick-off we determined to get hold of the ball and made reasonable use of it too, patiently waiting to something to open up rather than wasting effort. Mason and Bentaleb were eager midfielder, pressing enthusiastically and keeping the tempo high. Kane worked hard to cover and get up and sometimes beyond Soldado, vital if this formation is going to produce goals. Davies and the restored Walker offered width. An early goal boosted the confidence. Kane’s leap and thumping header wasn’t surprising, the decent corner that provided the cross astounded however. Our set pieces have been horrid lately.

Fast forward to the final 10 or 15 minutes for the other spell of Spurs superiority. Kane was tireless, up front on his own now. Dembele had long since replaced the forlorn, ineffectual Soldado and playing in the advanced role I’ve long advocated held up the ball and allowed us not only to regroup at the back but also to get Eriksen on the ball. Peripheral for the first half, he increasingly became an influence on the game. Get him involved and invariably he will produce a few glimpses of class. These precious moments can win matches and yesterday, proved decisive.

Late on Swansea dealt with a move down our left but our pressing in their half regained possession. Davies is able to make quick, clear-headed decisions on the ball and his firm, clean pass found Eriksen who scored low and right-footed from the edge of the area. Those moments of class tell in the end. Our two periods of superiority showed also that we are better coming forward with the ball than we are without it. Because in between our defending was stupefyingly awful.

Once Swansea applied some pressure, that early composure melted as fast as a baked Alaska taken out of the fridge on the Great British Bake-Off. Time and again Swansea got through or round us. Left unprotected, the back four were unable to deal with Bony, the Swans’ lone striker, who outwitted them with the cunning plan of not standing next to any of them. Drifting between centrehalf and full-back, he was a constant threat. Never did a midfielder drop back to fill those gaps or pick up runners and it was left to Davies to make a goal-saving tackle as Bony cocked the trigger to shoot.

Bony equalised – far too easy for Swansea to get the ball to him from our left. The second half and I was waiting for the inevitable goal, waiting…I’ve seen towerblocks more mobile than Fazio. He’s fine once he gets there, if ‘there’ is the ball or marking a man, it’s just the bits in between that confuse him. Waiting…Shelvey on and pinging the ball all over the place, a late block by Vertonghen…and then waited no more. Swansea ran out of steam and Spurs suddenly remembered that the Welshmen were not so hot at the back themselves.

Soldado was in a sorry state, little impact. Lamela worked hard to little purpose. No coincidence that Swansea played a winger down our right to exploit his frequent absences and poor decision-taking off the ball. Conceding needless fouls again and he is going to hurt someone badly unless he learns to keep his feet down.

On the plus side, Kane was inexhaustibly excellent throughout. Davies continues to show why we paid the money, highly promising. I like his confidence and lack of indecision.

“Walker gives the ball away with his first touch.” So said the commentator, ahh Kyle it’s like you’ve never been away. Avoidable early booking, under needless pressure, scuffling with a pacy winger, not picking up in the box, by the end he’s still running up and down that touchline, said winger under control, coming into the game when the final whistle goes even though he could not possibly have been anywhere near fully fit. Good to have you back.

Walker and Davies could be key in the weeks and months to come. They offer the attacking width from deep that Pochettino craves. But it will take time to fit all the pieces together. More inconsistency to come. Strong performances please against Burnley and Leicester, cut out the errors and get Eriksen in the game is the way to go before United and Chelsea come to darken our New Year.

27 thoughts on “Spurs Celebrate. A Decent Corner!

  1. These results are simply clouding our generally depressing performances ..performances which, in the main, look remarkably similar to those last term which evolved through AVB’s planning and tactics, and then Tim’s, er, later ‘options’ (although, even in Bale’s final season before that, the Welshman’s solo performances ‘inside’ clouded the terrible imbalance issue in the team after Modric left. In fact, Spurs quickly went from being a tight, relatively unchanging, team with the most attractive and incisive wing play/width in the PL, to practically a non-team with the narrowest and dullest of unimaginative possession play and no thrust in the final third ..from a team that created countless chances in open play for box strikers we unfortunately never possessed, when we actually needed them, to a team now that can hardly create anything from the wings for the one that we do possess, Soldado).
    Simply look at our low goal count from the past 18 months. Hardly filled with ‘Glory’ is it?! Was it really only 7 or 8 years ago that Berbatov, Keane and Defoe between them scored about 60 goals in the course of one season?
    Also, 3 to 5 years back we had started to finally hold our own (at least) with the top teams, even in Europe (the Milans etc.), and if we lost to a lesser side it was not for the want of opportunities created, yet missed. However, in the past 2 seasons we have been hammered regularly by the top teams (this year, Chelsea, City and even Liverpool have maintained that record) and what does that consistency of awfulness tell us. It tells us that, despite the silver linings of Kane and Mason plus a few others, and the nicking of 9 points at Villa, Hull and Swansea, we are still treading water, are no longer a top team ourselves, and have simply not moved on from the start of the 2013/14 season when over a £100k’s worth of ‘talent’ came our way.
    In fact teams below us often seem to give Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal more of a test than we do. Forget Burnley and Leicester in the coming weeks (although we could well drop points against them), the real test is whether Chelsea take us apart at the Lane, and whether we can hold back a resurgent United (although at least we’ve done well against them in recent times).
    I don’t want to paint a dark picture, but our overall performances this season suggest a team that’s no better than 10th..
    Yes, the lucky wins may continue, and we might get 6th, but the reliance suddenly on Kane tells us everything we need to know. He’s not a final fit into the jigsaw, he’s the start of yet another jigsaw ..ie yet another rebuilding exercise by Tottenham.

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    • You are excused my forthcoming end of year piece, which will basically say – rebuilding again. So much time, money, emotional energy wasted, just as you say.

      Regards, Al

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  2. Our performances have been awful, often. However this is the first season I can remember where our injury list is so small and we keep scoring late goals. Yesterday is a great example of this. only 2 players out injured and another 89th minute winner. Poch is doing something good with our fitness that seems to have so far gone unnoticed.

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  3. Every now and then all you could here was me shouting, noooooo, clear the f@cking ball 😳
    That 2nd goal and final whistle was the antidote to me not having a heart attack 😊
    Good read Alan.

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  4. I’m putting this game into the memory bank to offset those upcoming games that we fail to grab three deserved points (or have we already cashed that cheque against Newcastle, West Brom, Stoke, etc?) For what we lacked in a cutting edge, and a cohesive midfield, we more than made up for in sheer bloody minded stickability in defence. Horrible conditions, under the cosh, away from home, all ingredients that promised a quiet ride home. But I’m warming to Fazio and his old fashioned “they shall not pass” approach even if his turning circle is more suited to the English Channel. He is more often than not where he should be and is starting to string together some clean sheets with Lloris and Vertonghen. We dodged a bullet in this one, partly because Eriksen was being played wide and Lamela gave another head scratching performance (i.e. what is his role in the team?) It was noticeable that when Poch finally made his substitutions with Dembele and Chadli the midfield thickened up, got a grip of the last 15 minutes and allowed Eriksen to spend more time inside and ultimately work his magic. I wonder who in their right mind would agreed to 26 million for Soldado? He is so slight and lacking in any aerial threat, he might be the most ill advised purchase since Rebrov and/or Berti. It could so easily have gone the other way and we all know better than to think it means a softer ride against Burnley, right? Well played, Walker. A much better return than we deserved to expect.

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    • Very philosophical David – the forces of fate will even themselves out, with crushing disappointment waiting in the New Year. Re Soldado, if you can bear it watch his highlights reel on youtube, proving he really can score. 4th top La Liga scorer in last 5 years or something? On second thoughts, best not, it only brings pain.

      Cheers, Alan

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  5. The idea that our CB’s would play a zone leaving Bony all by himself has contrasted with the many times over the past two years that Soldado has been smothered by his markers.
    Thank God that Harry Kane hath brought us out of the dark and gave us light. He has led the fight for weeks,created, kept fluid and still had time to kop goals with both head and foot and generally showed the way.
    We havent been good ansd we were not good in this one.But there were more positives within the welsh onslaught.
    Dembele after a good outing in Turkey showed again that he has life and determination,Stamboulli in his first PL stint looked assured and comfortable in the role. Davies passed the test even if his winger filled in the spaces he left when going forward.It the tackle of a lifetime to strip the Bony man. On the other side Walker’s timing looked off against Montero who really tested him relentlessly..Mason played well albeit a more quiet game.
    Still it really wasnt a disaster. It was a win.It was away and itw as against a team that has had not a bad season overall.
    You have to scratch your head at Soldado and Lamela 56 million quid worth of question marks. I and many feel sorry for Soldado.He seems like a good bloke.But has dug his own hole with his inability to negotiate this league.You have to dig deep and let nothing stop you but he hasnt. Its not Lamela’s fault he has legs he cannot control. For now we must move on.

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    • Some positives as you say, Soldado though, nothing is lifting him. I wish him well, just can’t see where the goals are going to come from. Lamela’s legs are ok, it’s his brain that is the problem. He’s not thinking enough about his game, willing to work but does not use the ball intelligently. Yet – there’s hope…

      Regards, Alan

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  6. Hi Al,

    Agree 100% with your comments but it’s nearly Christmas and I enjoyed the result so much I’m only going to be positive. It really set me up for the week.

    Swansea are a decent team who have had a good start to the season. Their support is really good, too. Therefore to get an away win against them was a good result. These last minute winners show we are capable of showing tenacity, digging in and have a winning mentality. (Away from home at least.)

    Let’s hope we can build on this in the next three games, after which we could (stress: could) be in the League Cup semi-final and hovering in or around the top 4. Not bad for a supposedly disastrous start to the season. The top 3 is likely to be C…… and the two Manchester teams. 4th will go to whoever finishes above A…… Why not us? If we play at the Lane as we do away and go on a decent run then it is a definite maybe.

    Great to see Kyle Walker back. And there is a sentence I never thought I’d think, say or write. But that just goes to show how little I know. He is a real asset to us and we have missed him. You know that once he puts that Spurs shirt on he’ll pound up and down that wing for as long as the boss tells him to. Longer if needs be. And occasionally score a damn fine goal.

    Ben Davies is looking pretty tasty too. Confident and assured on the ball and not afraid of barking a few orders. We need that as there are a few show ponies around him.

    Great to see Jan at the heart of the celebrations for the second goal and looking like he really does give a @£$!.

    Let Eriksen play wherever and do whatever the heck he wants. He reminds me of Hoddle. If we can keep him for another 2-3 years he’ll be key.

    Hugo, Hugo, Hugo. What do we have to do to keep you forever? What a fantastic footballer and classy guy he is. And I write that inspired by him when he doesn’t even have to do a great deal. A class act. Make him Captain permanently, please.

    Finally, and most important of all, it is great to see that at the heart of our team is a group of potentially fantastic Academy players who have surely cemented their places in the team. Kane, Bentaleb and Mason each bring something distinctive to the team and to any game they play. May they all pull on the Spurs shirt for many years to come. Would love to see them playing in the Champions League for us, and a picture of them holding up a cup.

    If anyone feels like moaning or whinging then try and go to an away game and be among the fans who are going nuts when we get a last minute winner. The euphoria is wonderful. Makes you forget any other crap going on in life even if it is only for a moment. Which is why we are football fans, isn’t it?

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  7. A fine result away to a good side and difficult place to go. Good to see Siggy again. It is too much like on a wing and a prayer when we haven’t got the ball … Having Kane, Mason and Bentaleb in the side helps for emotional connectivity, and because they are good. I hope the example of Swansea’s wingers struck a chord with Poch; it did with me. Davies and Walker will help to fill the space out wide as Lamela (still disappointing me as he’s capable of so much more) and Eriksen come in but there’s no real substitute for a flying winger taking on his man supported by his full back. When we have one like Lennon who works so hard defensively too, I’d like to see him in for Lamela, who is a liability at times, given our defensive woes.

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    • Interesting about the wingers. As you say Swansea wingers looked good, but the Swansea equivalent of this blog might be complaining that wingers leave them unduly open – they were not at their best when we attacked. I like a winger as much as you but these days teams need wide players with other skills. Luxury?

      Regards, Alan

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  8. Hi Alan.
    This certainly wasn’t a performance to warm the heartstrings, but 3 more away points with another late goal could, as others have suggested, say alot about the general fitness of the side.
    I thought we looked better once Dembele came on. Other positives were the performances of Kane, Davies and Bentaleb who seems to possoss that ability to break up play without really being noticed.
    As for Soldado, Lamela and the walking lamp post Fazio, let’s just be kind and say that the jury’s out for me.
    COYS!

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    • I have never seen Dembele as a DM – I’m frustrated that such a talented player has given comparatively little but played further forward he looks more of a threat. More please.

      best, Alan

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  9. As stated by others an excellent result against very good opposition in horrendous conditions.Walker’s return showed us what has been missing on the right hand side and Davies looked more assured on the left.It would appear an extended run is doing him the world of good.Defensively better than Rose and not as wasteful in attack.
    Kane showed great heart with a good all round performance and excellent goal.Sadly Soldado will continue to struggle without decent service,but his work off the ball is improved.Bearing this in mind I feel Lennon is a better bet than Lamela,who I feel will never hack it for us.Also he is so much better at defending especially in front of Walker.
    A tough game coming up tomorrow evening and I just hope we don’t regress in our next league outing like we did after the Everton game.

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  10. Alan,Ive been,like you,constantly running between we are and we are not (90% of our supporters I think are the same). We all expect more. Im of the opinion that this is going to work out. Its been terrible at times and on the borders of disaster at times,A few good flashes only. But I sense there is a change.Its not based on anything really tangible (or not enough anyway) But I sense it will be two steps forward and one step back starting soon instead of the usual one forward and 5 back.
    Rekindle the faith Alan.

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    • Ron, my family also emigrated to T.O., Canada, although I’m now in LA. And, I’m hoping your call to our eloquent blogger Alan to “rekindle the faith” is strengthened not only by our LC win but from here moving forward, because overall I get a sense some of us just like to drag that cloud around…no matter what. COYS! The corner may well have been turned…

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    • Will never lose faith, Ash and Ron. Confess I have been dismayed by the effects of all the managerial changes catching up, lack of progress, the flat performances. I try to stay positive but in the blog I’m going to stay realistic. If it’s not working out, I have to say so. But I’m enjoying the wins, don’t you worry.

      regards gents

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      • Ashley and Alan,I think the idea is to speak it like it is.Being an abstract game this crazy game we all love,its a game to really throw statistics out the window (who cares how many passes? Its the quality not the quantity) . We know what happened or we think we do.tell it like it is but retain a good deal of hope that things will change for the better and every crumb of evidence hopeful will inspire that.
        We started off with the Partizan game and followed through eith Everton only to be kicked back to earth with Chelsea (Oh how we need Redknapp just for those run around a bit games,where passion could not necessary eclipse a system!) and since then the last two games where Harry Kane and Co have pushed the envelope somewhat.
        What a roller coaster of a season. But we are still alive.Its important to see some clues and we are starting to now see something.a smidgen.Its not as much as we really expect but its going in the right direction.I just say keep this up boys.

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  11. Gary Lineker reflecting on the north London club’s LC victory:“Tottenham look like they might finally be turning a corner, having driven us around the bend all season.” Been driving me around the bend most of my life, but something is afoot, just need some more patience, and continued forward movement. What I truly hope is that MoPo and his own team make a lot of us negative nellies/whining whingers eat crow by the end of the season. Well, I can hope…COYS!

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    • The truly chronically negative type will still find something to moan at.Dont worry.
      I had a seat in the East Stand in 59-60 and 60-61 and my uncle had a season ticket in the West Stand and I took that a few times. There was a bloke behind who could only say bad words about mel Hopkins our left back before Ron Henry and he became our reserve player and he would knock Mel Hopkins and knock Mel Hopkins.In 1960-61 as you know we won the double.Would you be knocking Mel Hopkijns if we were winning the double????

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