Lamela Crowns Another Spurs Win

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Spurs maintained the momentum from a busy and productive week to defeat Burnley thanks to a stunning goal by Erik Lamela. In an uneven performance we had enough class at key moments to take the three points, driven on by the game’s outstanding player, Christen Eriksen. More salient in the long-term, there were positive signs that the recent team development continues too.

Spurs began slowly. Indeed they struggled at times to lift the tempo, a consequence of three games in six days. Plenty of time for a pre-Christmas chinwag as the game lacked spark. The Bloke Behind Me dozed off, the pompom on his blue Spurs santa hat dangling over his nose. There was little danger of anything happening on the pitch to rouse him.

Burnley’s neat passing game with two up front was easy on the eye and to their credit they constantly sought to get the ball forward. They paid Bentaleb the ultimate compliment by deputing a midfielder, ex-Spur Marney I think, to push up and mark him. This limited our ability to pass from deep and curtailed Nab’s influence. However, Eriksen more than compensated, revelling in the space thus created in our opponents’ half. He was high class throughout. There’s a different air about him now, bright-eyed and busy where just a few weeks ago he was directionless and absent for extended periods.

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In Wednesday’s report I speculated that Pochettino was using that match to try out a few different options. One was Eriksen back in the middle again and it worked yesterday. The Dane spoke after the Swansea win about his increased fitness levels and judging by yesterday he’s a 90 minute man now.

Lamela had his best game since the QPR match. He stayed wide when we had the ball and we switched the play from left to right with an ease that’s seldom been seen this season, so when he set off he had that extra space to work up a head of steam. He varied things, going outside and in. Once he tiptoed to the byline and produced a perfect cross which three of our players contrived to miss from a couple of yards out.

His performance was crowned by a stunning goal, his first for the club. Coming in off his right foot, he scooted across the defence and curled a luxurious left-footer into the far corner. I involuntarily shouted ‘Come on!’ as it left his foot, urging the ball on while it was in mid-air like a golfer shouting at the ball he’s struck from the tee. It sounded just as ridiculous but I was right in line and knew it was in. It’s the kind of supporter stupidity that goes with a fabulous goal.

This proved to be the winner. Earlier, Kane had lifted us out of our stupor with an alert and audacious moment of inspiration. He took a free kick quickly. Eriksen, offside, stayed motionless allowing Chadli to run on to it. Before Burnley had come to their senses, Chadli went to the byline and chipped in a perfect cross for Kane to head home decisively from inside the six yard box.

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This is typical Kane. Quick thinking plus the basics. Kane isn’t fast but that first yard’s in the head. How true – he goes straight to where he needs to be, running 35 yards to start and finish a move. The header was straightforward, getting to that point wasn’t. He’s developing his game all the time. When the ball is played up to him, back to goal, now he often traps it by pushing it sideways or diagonally towards the opposition goal, rather than just doing the safe thing and playing it backwards. This gives him the chance to get on the front foot and take the ball forwards. In the second half, he dropped deeper to pick the ball up in this manner then release Chadli who put the ball in the net but was offside. The body of a 21 year old with the brain of a 35 year old Sheringham.

Burnley hit back with a magnificent strike of their own, a top-corner curler from Barnes, after Lamela had twice given the ball away. After Kane’s goal it set us back on our heels until Lamela lifted the spirits. Second half, Mason’s absence, injured in the act of shooting, deprived us of much-needed energy. He had been everywhere, first to loose balls. Now Burnley did too much for our liking, looking to exploit Fazio’s lack of pace by twice slipping the ball inside him. However, he and Lloris got their angles right, pushing attackers wide so Hugo was able to block anything on target.

This week Vertonghen was praising his partnership with Fazio. Pochettino gave Kaboul a chance, now rightly it’s the turn of these two and there’s nothing like playing together to build a partnership. They both did well, Vertonghen in particular quick in the tackle. Burnley failed to get behind them so they dealt competently with anything in front of them. Fazio on the turn, so to speak, is a different story. He’s fine once he gets to wherever he’s supposed to be, the trouble is in the getting there.

Spurs flagged for a time then rallied and we should have scored again on the break, with Eriksen prominent. Lloris saved a late free-kick from sub Wallace and that was that.

Wallace was another in this week’s series of Slightly Misshapen Footballers. Physicality is so important now, most players are fine, identikit specimens this days. Wingers are no longer slight and nippy – Spurs played two six-footers. Subs Wallace for Burnley and Armstrong for Newcastle on Wednesday are stout, short men with torso and heads out of proportion with their legs. More power to them, say I, it’s refreshing to see something out of the ordinary.

Our midfield had a balanced look. Lamela and Chadli stayed wide for the most part in the early phases of attacks, both making good decisions as to when to stay wide and when to come in that won the match for us. The inverted winger thing doesn’t mean that they are compelled to come inside every time. Sound decision-making is more important. Mason and Bentaleb are solid behind them.

Also, we managed to get support to Kane up front without wasting a precious midfielder on just playing off him. Kane is clever enough to know when to drop deeper and when to press up, while Eriksen is now able and willing to get up and back.

Kudos to the visiting fans who all wore Christmas hats and celebrated a day out by singing long and loud in the second half. Hope they had a safe journey home.

A final sour note that hopefully won’t spoil an enjoyable day. We meet Burnley in the Cup of course, a match scheduled inconceivably for a Monday night. So much for the magic of the Cup. The Trust asked for an explanation. At first they were fobbed off by both the club and the FA. Pressing again, contradictory accounts emerged, the FA saying the clubs wanted it, Spurs that it was the FA taking police advice into account. Someone’s lying: as ever it’s the supporters who suffer.

9 thoughts on “Lamela Crowns Another Spurs Win

  1. Lovely write up Alan. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Decent result yesterday. A must-win game given our previous record against teams below us in the league. Job done.

    In the last week we have won away, at home and progressed to the semis of a cup competition. Good work. Let’s hope we cap it off with three points against Leicester.

    Even more important than the results have been the glimmers of a very good team/squad with Academy players at the core. We could still finish 4th or even 3rd. Why not? Look at how awful Man U and A…… have been at times this year.

    Lamela’s goal was wonderful.

    However, the reaction of the person sitting next to me sums up why so many Spurs fans can be hard work.

    Instead of being pleased for the lad/team/club he turned to me and said,’About time’ (several expletives deleted.)

    Why not just enjoy the moment?

    Yes we have been awful at times this season, lots of times in fact.

    And the bigger picture isn’t one that inspires confidence given the mismanagement that has taken place.

    But the incessant moaning and whining is, I find, more unpleasant than the problems on and off the pitch.

    Hearing the crowd pounce of Hugo, Mason and Bentaleb whenever a clearance or a pass went astray was unedifying and distasteful.

    Going to football and following a team is meant to be fun. If it isn’t find something else to do with your spare time.

    I’m going to enjoy being just outside the top 4, thru to the semis and last 32 of our cup competitions.

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  2. Agree with thye above. The problem seems much worse on weekend matches. Midweek games seem to have more proper supporters there, rather than the Johnny-Come-Latelys that have appeared with the introduction of our higher profile players over the last few seasons.

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  3. Alan I agree,Eriksen has showed signs the past few games and yesterday offered a real spark.But I dont think the inspiration necessarily came from him. Kane has been the most consistent of our players.He is one of our players who hasn’t had to wait for anyone else to show him the way.He has taken his growing confidence and expanded it. He goes for it.
    Another player who does that,and its made him a fan favourite too,is Mason. Mason pushed himself even further piercing the Burnley line in search of space. One moment Eriksen was in the corner,turned and hit Mason with a rare through ball but it was ,I hope, the start of a great partnership.
    So many times over the past few seasons we lacked the kind of movement needed to create (sure we had some with Tim and Harry,but in a more haphazard way) With AVB and Poch up to now goals came from long shots ,set pieces or penalties. Now with Kane focused,an industrious Mason and Eriksen looking for opportunity we will create the fluidity we need.
    Yes its just a start but there has been a small evolution going on recently that looks as you say Alan positive.
    As to Fazio and Vert.This is much better. I have some doubt with Fazio’s ability to hang in there with nifty inside players and balls on the ground.Afraid that he cannot hold them off and afraid he will hold them causing penalties but he has shown enough that he is a super competitor and maybe he will get a bit sharper than way.
    When Walker gets fully fit I expect his timing will be better and Davies is looking more focused on the other side.
    There is I think a resurgent Dembele as agood fill in,a Stamboulli who definately looks the business,a Chadli that looks as good as he did earlier in the season and Lamela..
    For once he controlled those legs of his enough to allow them a say. And they did. A wonderful goal.I think Barnes definately hit the winner of the day,but Lamela’s wasn’t far behind. Maybe,who knows,he will be what we expected.Maybe. There are signs.
    I’m not saying anymore about it. I hope he really gets it going.

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  4. Soldado and Lamela score in the same week! Pass the smelling salts! After a couple of months of watching some terrible old tosh, the fog of bore is slowly lifting and we are glimpsing a side where strikers score and defenders don’t roll over. However, we are still letting poor to average teams push us around for long periods when we should be finishing the job. Hopefully, Mason’s injury won’t be long term because we suddenly seemed to lose our grip as soon as he left the pitch. We are watching Harry Kane grow into a force before our eyes. If a German or Spanish striker playing for a big team scored his goal we’d all be drooling about how the determination, pace and instinct to get to the ball and guide it into the net was world class. But he’s ours! Lamela is a contradiction. At times he reminds me of Taarabt who’d come on and do his party pieces, but ultimately contribute little to the group effort. Someone in an earlier review summed it up nicely by suggesting Lamela will be worth a place once he’s figured out what to do with his legs. He can keep on scoring the winner all season in my book, but he’ll give us an ulcer in the process. Hats off to Burnley for fielding an all-British side. Hopefully we can squeeze out another win over the holiday, because the big boys are waiting for us just around the corner.

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  5. Good write up as always. A much better week and signs of real progress. Much more fizz in midfield and a more solid defensive shape. Not entirely sure about Fazio but he and Vertonghen look much more of a pair than Vertoghen and anyone else!
    I hope Burnley stay up. They never gave up and played some decent football along the way.

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  6. Totally agree that it was the willingness of our “wingers” to stay wide and go outside occasionally that won the game. This gave Lamela more space when he came inside as the defence couldn’t rely on him going that way. I think it’s also why Eriksen has seen an upturn in form as the centre is less crowded.

    Having Walker overlapping also helped. Pochettino needs his fullbacks to provide some width.

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  7. Tottenham totter as Leicester do not look the lesser in the 2nd half.
    Hugo is hugh.
    Christian donates a Christmas gift. One wonders about the others. We’ll need to double up against the next two, beeejeeeezzuuus!

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