Wanyama The Unlikely Saviour As Spurs Stagger Over The Line

In a week full of sprint finishes and even a despairing dive for gold, yesterday Spurs fell over the line like a bloke wearing a Mr Blobby costume in a charity fun run.

The man who dragged us through the tape was Victor Wanyama. Bought to strengthen our defensive midfield, he displayed an enterprising spirit, often moving upfield to support attacks, although he is equally able to play a 5 yard ball sideways with some intensity. He unmistakably relished the honour of scoring the late winner against Palace on his home debut. Kane rose spring-heeled from a corner and his big straight header was touched past the keeper by Wanyama, loitering 5 or 6 yards out. Kenya’s finest footballing son dashed towards the bench to celebrate with his manager. Clearly they have faith in each other.

The goal was a relief, coming when Spurs had seemingly run out of ideas about breaking down the well-marshalled Palace defence. 10 behind the ball, stifle the space, hit us on the break. Limited ambitions – dull – but it worked last season in the Cup and could have been equally as efficient yesterday if they had had any punch in the box. Benteke is the man for them. Zaha especially elusive in the second half but there’s not much to give the ball to once he gets there.

Final ball. Final touch. Fine margins. Tottenham showed last season’s fluency only sporadically but even so, chances were made and missed. Much of our play came through Eriksen who had a bit of a stinker. Given the congested midfield he did well to find space. However he constantly fluffed his lines, hesitating on several occasions and falling between two stools, either shooting feebly or passing straight to a defender.

When the chances did come, they were missed. In the first half, Janssen was unlucky as Hennessey made a double-save low down, as did the Everton keeper last week. Kane shot wide. In the second, Kane missed a tricky diving header. Janssen was impressive throughout. He reminds me of those warriors in Clash of the Clans, muscular legs and wide shoulders, intent on doing some damage. He’s willing, works hard and takes up good positions. Finally, deep in the second half, the ball reached him in one of those positions as he burst into the box. It was by far the best move of the match, started deep by Kane and energised by Dele’s first touch after coming on as sub. There was no finish to match, however, Janssen missed it, but goals will come. It was an impressive home debut.

Spurs lined up at kick-off with three at the back, Dier to the right of that three, but soon reverted to our familiar 4-2-3-1 with Wanyama alongside Dier, Lamela on the left and Kane playing deeper than Janssen although his mobility meant he was able to get alongside the Dutchman. Maybe it was in response to Palace’s formation, maybe just a bluff.

Whatever the reason, it was pleasing to see Spurs opt for an attacking formation. But there are costs as well as benefits. When Kane came into the side, there was a feeling he was better playing off the front, now we see him as an out and out centre forward, albeit a mobile and adaptable one. He looked slightly out of touch, a hangover from the Euros. More to the point, did it disrupt the team’s flow that looked so instinctive last season? Playing with two DMs provides more strength, less creativity. Benefits and costs. We’ll see how it works out over the games to come.

One benefit was Kyle Walker’s excellence. Top speed down the right, slicing diagonally from right to left into the box, rock solid at the back, especially on the far post in the second half when Palace tried to stretch the back four. At least one English player improved after the Euros.

Lamela has a poise and purpose about him this season. Something’s changed. Maybe he can start putting it together now and taking more responsibility. Meanwhile, Townsend exhibited a masterclass in why Poch sold him. Late on he was stunned into immobility when Lamela nutmegged him, but he won’t be the only right winger this season to get no change from Danny Rose.

Sadly for my state of mind an early thought in the aftermath of the goal was how Pardew would whinge about it. Sure enough, he pointed to centre half Delaney’s injury and the consequent defensive reshuffle. In fact, Palace were allowed to bring on a sub before the kick was taken, whereas usually teams have to wait for a sub to come on after an injury.

The yawning gap in the northeast corner is the shape of things to come. Four cranes watched over us, towering above the old ground. Hard to grasp this is the last season here.

Usurping Walker for man of the match has to be halftime compere Paul Coyte. Interviewing Spurs mute new mascot Lily, Chirpy’s female counterpart (just good friends by the way, those rumours can neither be confirmed nor denied), must have been the lowest point of his professional career. Coyte is a bit Smashie and Nicie but he’s a real pro and people who know him confirm he’s a thoroughly decent bloke and Tottenham to the core. MOM is the least I can do for you Paul.


29 thoughts on “Wanyama The Unlikely Saviour As Spurs Stagger Over The Line

  1. The major lesson was Alli is a must . Not only has he skill but he has a quick mind to see space and that was lacking yesterday. He needs to be played in the centre not on the wing


  2. Thought we were good enough to get the job done. An important win – two
    opening draws would have been a downer for the team.

    Palace were prepared to grind out a draw and although we had plenty off decent chances we weren’t quite sharp enough in front of goal.

    Walker was my MOTM with alameda nor far behind. If you come across a clip of Lamela nutmegging Andros have a look at Danny Rose’s peach if a reaction. Thought Townshend’s performance vindicated Poch by the way. Wonder if the same will be true of Bentaleb.

    Also a word to the good for Vorm. Thought he was solid in goal and the back 4 didn’t seem nervy.

    Me and my mates sit right by the big gaping hole in the stadium. The general consensus is that it is going to be wet windy and cold in November. Hope what happens on the pitch warms us up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Russ, thanks for the first-hand observation of the gap…keep us posted of what it’s like on those filthy days. Although, I have some buddies from here in LA, who’ll be there for the early Jan home game…COYS!


      • I’ll see if I can find a way of posting photos – at the game yesterday the builders downed tools for the match and watched it. The started again st half time and at the end of the game. I’d do the same if I was them!

        Liked by 1 person

    • It will be blowy. I’m afraid you need to invest in waterproofs – buy in the summer sales, cheaper than winter. Still, the Trust got you a ticket reduction.
      We played well enough, a bit of cutting edge and we would have been coasting by the time Wanyama popped up unexpectedly.
      Have seen nutmeg – churlish of me to add that immediately afterwards he lost possession 🙂

      Regards, Alan


  3. Eriksen’s form is a worry as much as Walkers is a delight. Eriksen was poor for a good chunk of last season and his effort was lacking yesterday. I think he has all the attributes to be a great player I’m not sure he has the desire.


    • I like Eriksen, very poor on Saturday. I have written before about how he is not the type of player to dominate a game. Rather he makes space and hopefully makes chances. Therefore when the latter fails, as it did on Saturday, he has little to fall back on.

      Regards, Al


  4. Lovely analogies, Alan: “Townsend exhibited a masterclass in why Poch sold him. Late on he was stunned into immobility when Lamela nutmegged him…” There’s a garage in a cul de sac where I swim up in the wealthy hills in Los Feliz, with 4 dazzling, brand new white cars (Rolls, Aston Martin, Land Rover) and a white Lamborghini with KSA plates. I see our Spurs as potentially like that sports car, we haven’t let it out yet, but when we do, it’s going to purr. Some of those near misses yesterday came at the tail end of some gorgeous, quick interplay like what we saw vs Stoke and ManU in one week last year. COYS!


  5. Hi Alan

    Not a very entertaining game but I can see that we will have a stronger squad to change the game. Big players like Eriksen can now be taken off in order to change the game, so more competition the more the players will perform better. Can’t wait for the likes it Jansenn to get used to the premier league and start firing on all cylinders.

    Keep up the good work 👍🏻


  6. Greetings Al. Hope you have had a chilled-out summer. Yesterday had all the hallmarks of one of those horrible smash and grabs that the likes of Wigan and Stoke have inflicted on us – it was all pretty prosaic stuff – so the relief when Victor scored was huge. I was mightily impressed by his performance – he has more versatility than I thought he had. I would say that Wanyama is the biggest positive for us so far this season.
    Agree with you that Janssen looks really promising. Boy can he tackle. I got the impression that he was trying too hard. I am sure that once he breaks his duck the goals will flow.
    I think we badly need an injection of pace and, if the N’Koudou deal happens, that would be just the ticket. I know your views on You Tube Al but this boy looks special to me – he definitely has more about him than N’Jie.
    With the likes of Onomah, Winks and Edwards waiting in the wings, the future looks bright, the future looks Lilywhite…….


    • Hallo Harvey, good to hear from you.
      Janssen indeed impressive, and only young too. More to come under Poch’s impressive tutelage and he looks just right for the PL. I may venture to youtube, N’Koudou is there for much needed pace as you say. I read that he has over twice as many 1st team playing hours under his belt compared with Njie.

      Regards, Alan


  7. I think Eriksen had his worst game in a Tottenham shirt.
    Its possible that he is frustrated with what he gets paid and maybe thinks he deserves more. Maybe he thinks he isnt valued enough.
    I think that he isnt a very clever player.I think he does a lot of work covering channels.I think he knows how to keep the ball rolling and possession but I also think that he has lacks creativity in his thinking.I also think he lacks the soul to make things happen no matter what. He just doesnt have a winning mentality.
    Nice flicks are nice flicks.They dont make neccessarily a player a creative genius. Being creative in footie mostly has to do with space and creating it even when its not there. Eriksen doesnt do that.
    But the fact is we have nobody else that can either.
    Poch’s system may not even call for it.Because much space is worked from the press and rewinning the ball back and the speed of our wing backs exploiting the natural space down the wings.
    We do not have a Plan B to Pochs system (when it stumbles at the final third) but I think Poch is mostly about his system. Eriksen can play the system so it does work for Poch but hasnt developed anything else to change a game thats not going well and even now 2 or 3 seasons later still hasnt grown very much even though his assists went up last season,his impact on games we need to win was flat.
    This game capped it off. An opportunity to make mthings happen.New deal or no new deal.
    I mean when would be better than to create a win and then meet with Levy and tell him to stuff it. No he goes and plays with no heart and soul and gets subbed by the ebergy laden Alli who changes the paradigm of the game. Typical.
    Still 3 points helps.


      • Ron, if that was you with handle “mytottenham” I think you’ve been hanging out at HH’s page too long, picking up all that grousing, after only two minutes of the season already…with a minimum of 46 more games to go. Chin up, lad, you’re a Tottenham fan!


        • Ashley,in California,Dreamland, I know its all good,and nobody would mention anything negative otherwise they would be hauled up to Alcatraz but for me I like to know where the blocks are,whats stopping the flow,whats creating a problem and call it the way it is (Its the way the rest of America works)


    • Posting under an alias, eh Ron? Good to hear from you whatever you call yourself!

      I think Eriksen is a trier, and will stick around at least for this season. He’s marketable in Europe, well thought of there. I’ve said before – he is never going to be the sort of player who totally dominate a midfield. When he first came I thought he would develop that way but that is not his game, for better or worse. he keeps the ball moving, makes space and has high yardage stats. Above all he has the talent to make the killer pass. When that deserts him, he looks ordinary. Just one game 🙂


      • Alan,not sure really if that killer pass was a mirage as cant remember one.Had made some nice passes but seems to just roll the ball on to the end player. He is certainly no General but no architect either IMHO.
        Still I hope and meanwhiile hope we buy a player who will force the issue even for Eriksen.
        I think as a team we are doing ok,we just need to add some more fluidity instead of just relying on the press. Fopr that we need some creative types.
        But Im happy with who we have.I’ll do rah rah where its warranted


  8. Thanks Alan,

    We found a way to win, which is good. Though, to be fair, we did a bit more than that, carving out and missing chances. Aside from a 10-15 spell in the second half, we weren’t taxed.

    Encouraging performances from Janssen and Wanyama, who look to have fitted in fast and well. Walker outstanding.

    I agree with Harvey the Hudd above, we really do need some serious pace in the forward line.


    • Cheers my friend. Yes, pace as a plan B.
      Janssen should fit right in to English football and Wanyama clearly wants to be at Spurs.



  9. Great report as usual. I am so pleased you mentioned the half time entertainment. It was so truly appalling and pathetic that I found myself struggling to resist the urge to start a slow hand clap, and full scale booing!!!!!!! Great to be back at The Lane though.


  10. You’re out of the traps early this season Alan – blogs straight away after games, no messing about, I didn’t even realise you’d written the piece about Wembley until much later! Great stuff.

    After your first blog I said I was totally wrung out after last season, and while I’m delighted the football is back it hasn’t taken long for that taut feeling in my stomach to return while listening to commentary on Radio London. I’m now wondering if I can cope with another another title race!

    As an earlier poster alluded to, those horrible defeats over the past 5/6 years at home to Stoke, Hull City, Newcastle and West Brom among others have taken their toll mentally for me at least. I constantly await the sucker punch about 79 minutes in, after totally domination, but finding the opposition goalkeeper playing like the love child of Pat Jennings and Hugo LLoris!

    Anyway, I’m glad the players and management are made of sterner stuff than I obviously am, and have increasingly found ways to break down stubborn opponents. Say what you like about the PL, and I’ve said plenty, but any team is capable of giving a strong favourite a bloody nose, and this seems to have increased of late. While given my rants during the boring Sky 4 days I should welcome this more competitive league, now my team is one of the prized scalps, when they are the victim of a mugging I am no longer such a fan of this footballing, socialist, utopia ……

    So I didn’t see the game , only the extended highlights, and can hardly offer an opinion that compares to you lucky bleeders that attended, but from what I did see – and hear on the radio – Kyle Walker’s energy was bordering on the Olympian. It’s great to see.

    Anyway, thanks for the write up, and I pray for victory this week.I am surrounded by myopic Liverpool fans in work.

    Cheers DB


    • Cheers Danny, yes writing the day after but don’t get used to it…but writing regularly unless otherwise stated.
      Games like this, with Spurs we think it is the same old story, but in fact it is teams paying us the respect we deserve by defending in numbers. Teams are afraid of what we can do. A backhanded compliment, he says positively! But hard to watch and dull.

      Regards, Al


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