“Out on the wiley, windy moors, we’d roll and fall in green…” Never liked Kate Bush. My loss, and I get how significant she is in the history of women in pop music, only woman to have a top 5 album in each of the last 5 decades, sold out Hammersmith nights. Her videos were hugely influential in the 70s – she danced and sang AT THE SAME TIME kids! Except where her fans saw deeply meaningful interpretive dance, I just saw a lot arm-waving.
Windy up at West Brom on Saturday, highest ground in the league and all that, and some of the football was pretty wild but don’t worry, no more WBA/Wuthering Heights metaphors, although according to Hugo, the wind was to blame for Spurs failings. Too many missed or overhit passes. The montage of same on MOTD was a montage of shame, it looked bad and most players were at fault.
Truth is, we never established the consistent fluency that has been the hallmark of recent games. I’m certain it was hard to play good football but we managed it well enough for a time in the first half. The tempo and ingenuity up front that has become pleasingly familiar went missing and we lacked the bite and sharpness to turn a draw into a win. We ended up trying to thread passes through gaps that existed only in the minds of desperate midfielders.
Yet unbeaten since the opening day of the season and I’m buying Christmas presents already, and that’s not because I am a proactive shopper. It’s a record to be proud of. I’m not at the stage where I’m thinking about the what-might-have-beens if draws had become wins because Spurs have exceeded all expectations. These are opportunities we are making not missing. As I have said for several weeks now, let’s enjoy our football while we can and worry about the table in the New Year when patterns emerge and we complete a run of games against sides below us.
West Brom played well, meeting pressing with a high level of activity. Pressing used to be called ‘closing down’ and that’s what they did, in the process counter-attacking at pace, dangerous at set pieces and scoring a good goal. We have Lloris’s point blank reaction save to thank for keeping our point. Lightning reactions and strong hands pushed a close range goalmouth stab up and over, brilliant.
Time was when we would have lost this one, bowled over and brushed aside by the Albion’s physicality. These days there’s something more. The resilience to hang on, the nouse to do enough. All good teams need it, few have. A draw and this precious quality, that will do for one Saturday.
Spurs started better than they finished. We settled into our period after scoring. No one appears to suggest the wind was a factor as Alderweireld’s long pass was judged to perfection, in between the two centrebacks and right onto Deli Alli’s foot. Of course he hit it first time on the volley – as if he’d consider any other way of dealing with a high ball looping from over his shoulder, running at full tilt with two defenders breathing down either side of his neck. He kept it down, through the keeper’s legs in fact, a stunning piece of nonchalant audacity.
Toby’s ability to hit long, accurate passes paid off. It’s good to have in the team locker, a counterpoint to our pass and move. Otherwise we did not impose ourselves up front and as time went on, looked forlorn in attack and shabby at the back, giving the ball and free-kicks away too often and Hugo’s poor clearances putting us under unnecessary pressure. In the first half Alli pushed on past Kane, it led to the goal, but Son might have given that extra punch in the box. Mind you, when he came on for Lamela, who worked hard to little effect, he barely touched the ball.
Pochettino made substitutions to keep some pace up front, as he’s always keen to do. Njie was put through in a rare moment of clarity, the offside was marginal. Poch looks after him well, directing him like a schoolchild with a remote controlled car. There’s raw talent there but a lot to learn.
And anyway, what is a ‘wiley moor’?