Thoroughbred Spurs Ease Into Top Gear

Games such as this give context to progress. Tottenham battled through a tight opening quarter then turned on the style to dominate as Stoke were routed. Spurs’ stuttering start becomes a gradual progression through the gears. Unbeaten after four games, chances now being made and taken, players easing their way into the groove. Kane breaks his duck, Alli on song, Sissoko almost scores with his first touch as a Tottenham man, Eriksen’s serious loss of form consigned to the past. Now for Janssen to score his first and we’re well and truly away. Plus, I’m really not the sort of fan who studies these things but I read that Spurs are the only side in the league not to have conceded from open play.

The manager is back on song too. Against Liverpool, Pochettino’s re-organisation after Walker went off crucially weakened our midfield in a hitherto tight game. Yesterday, Kane was restored up front but Mauricio’s masterstroke was as unexpected as it proved to be effective. I can’t imagine that Son was in anybody’s predicted team line-up, least of all that of the player himself, but he took full advantage, breaking the deadlock with a precise finish before half time then slamming home an outstanding second to set Spurs on course for a rampant victory.

The appeal of blogging for reader and author is that it’s a fan’s perspective, a different viewpoint with the personal touch. So it was that sadly I can’t give you a detailed dissection of the opening quarter of an hour because our puppy was in the living room repeatedly being sick then eating it. What can I say? Priorities. You won’t get this in the Observer.

I saw enough to see that this was the toughest period of the game for Spurs with Stoke pressing early on and causing problems in our box for the only time in the match. There followed a tight, untidy midfield battle with Spurs struggling to hold on to the ball for any length of time. Stoke deserve credit here for stifling space and time.

Gradually, Spurs broke out of this stranglehold and never looked back. Son showed both why he was picked, with willing movement into space on our left and a couple of purposeful 40 yard runs with the ball at his feet, and why he can be frustrating, because each time he feebly turned into a defender and lost the ball.

Then the chances started to appear. Alli, left unchallenged outside the box, casually chipped it in for Given to save, then he dragged our best chance wide, having been put completely clear in by a ricochet off a Stoke player. Eriksen then cleaned up the attack, placing the ball to Son who had come across from the left. Unencumbered by any challenge, he sidefooted a volley into the net. Spurs never looked back.

Eriksen, ball at his feet and head up is a fine sight, brimming with anticipation and expectation. In a flash, he takes in the moment and, above all, what could be in a few seconds’ time. In the corresponding fixture last season he was at the heart of one of the finest Tottenham performances of recent times. This time round, there’s been no hint of a repeat in his frankly poor outings so far. He signed a new contract this week – maybe he feels that has sorted a few things and his mind is settled. A bit of paper shouldn’t make any difference, it’s pulling on the shirt that matters, but fact is, it does.

Perhaps this game was his celebration. After half time he took the ball on in midfield and under pressure chipped the ball over an opponent – to himself. He laid it off to Son on the left. We waited for a touch and a turn, perhaps into a defender. Son was having none of that. First time, early, right foot, top of the net. Thrilling. I commented last season on how stiff Son becomes when faced with too many choices in the final third, that he’s trying too hard to make a telling impact every time. Maybe there’s a message here for him, just relax and let it flow.

Straight away, Stoke attacked. How many times over the years have we seen Tottenham waste hard-earned goals by conceding quickly but this Tottenham do things differently. Alderweireld came across to decisively intercept a cross bound for Bony, reacting quicker than the centre forward as he did all afternoon.

Then the third and best, a fabulous flowing move started by Wanyama from the edge of our box and finished by Alli via Lamela, Eriksen and Walker. It was a breakaway but rather than lung-busting improvisation, this was an effortlessly constructed gem of attacking football. In a few seconds, Spurs had five players forward, each in space, each in the right place to offer options to the man on the ball. It was a measured, unhurried move, born of confidence as team-mates.

Kane took the fourth, his first of the season, with exaggerated care, controlling a far post cross and tucking it in, suppressing his glee and not taking it first time. You could hear him thinking, ‘I am going to make sure, I am going to make sure.’ It’s a much-needed boost.

Stoke gave him the time to think it over. In truth Spurs will have tougher challenges ahead. Bony’s arrival did not give them any focus up front and once the game settled down, they gave us far too much room all over the field. Toby and Jan dealt impeccably with everything that came their way. Most of it was played in front of them – Stoke seldom got behind the back four – meat and drink. In my cameo on BBC Radio Stoke this week – don’t worry, it’s not changed my life – I confidently predicted a close match with Stoke more dangerous up front and certainly no repeat of last season. What do I know?

Stoke may point to the dismissal of their manager halfway through the first half for abusing the fourth official. As a player Hughes was fierce and competitive, as a manager this comes over as angry for angry’s sake, a mess of seething injustice on the bench. Players have been told not to abuse officials and managers are responsible. His actions harmed his side’s chances and his reaction to the crowd as he left, geeing them up to complain and protest, merits further punishment. The only saving grace was the comedy value of Hughes’ inability to use first a radio then a phone to communicate with the bench. At one point it looked as if he was texting his assistant. Wouldn’t work at Spurs, never a bloody signal. Imagine his reaction to that.





22 thoughts on “Thoroughbred Spurs Ease Into Top Gear

  1. Nice summary Alan. Personally I think we’ll see more of Son this year. I should declare my hand, I am an admirer and for me he’ll add 5-10 goals more than Lamella. I know we may lose a bit of energy and press, but ultimately those goals will (if he actually scores then rather than me predicting them!) be crucial.


    • Son has the aptitude to get goals and assists. His disrupted season didn’t help – he hasn’t settled in yet, maybe this game will be the turning point. Wonder if he will feature in away matches where he can hit on the break.

      Regards, Alan


  2. I was happy to see Eriksen offer some wonderful creativity.The move to defend deep a Stoke attack and as Alli drove the counter forward,Eriksen ran the length of the field on the right into space when Alli hit him with a perfect pass.Eriksen turned his marker outside in and hit a beautiful pass into the path of Son who cooly scored.
    For the second goal Eriksen pulked the ball out of the air with his keft foit into space and offered Son a glorious opportunity which again he took.
    More please.
    As far as Sissoko goes I loved hus entrance to the game. He is fearless and can move firward quickly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Love your excitement, Ron, but had to check into my urban dictionary to look up new words like “pulked” and “keft foit” — As for this type of footy after a shaky opening 30 (when they were playing out of our own press, and trying out their own on us), please sir, I want more! COYS! 😉


      • Ah Ash,you are simply talking about my language.Its called Ronglish in the western world and Wronglish at Oxford.
        As to the game.This is what I expect from Eriksen and it was great.Creating space is critical and he is a key player in a key position.May it happen often!
        When players create space,create fluidy,keep strong defensively what else is there? Its the game.
        We lacked in this department. Eriksen found out that the only way is to mogve the ball quicke and if it failes lets get on Sissoko to use some power with speed and get it done that way. Eriksen was great,really.


      • One more point. I remember well the early sixties when we destroyed the minnows handily.Tottenham over the last years has got us emotionally for the big games (A bit too much granted at the Bridge) but treat minniows with too much respect. We need to push them aside like we did here and get every easy 3 points going


        • You’re right, Ron. What made this one was the variety of options they had at their disposal. They held the ball, fought the midfield battle early on, counter-attacked, went wide. No shortage of ideas


  3. First time visitor to this website. Nice article Alan. A really good read. A good too many venomous, hissing and spitting types in other blogs out there, so nice to read a calm, polite and accurate piece. And holding your poise while your dog was vomiting…impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Al,

    Lovely write-up as usual. Thank you. Hope your puppy is better.

    If anyone out there hasn’t heard it, Alan and Martin Cloake are on the most recent The Tottenham Way podcast talking about their excellent new Spurs book. It is a great podcast too – well worth listening to.

    I was lucky enough to be at this game. The away end was rocking and as usual our supporters were fantastic. We sang our hearts out for the whole game. Must also add that the people in Stoke were really friendly too. Hope their team sorts themselves out.

    The press is reporting that Mark Hughes told the away end to ‘Shut up.’ From where I was standing it seemed a lot stronger than that. But whatever he said, his loss of composure affected what was happening on the pitch. Thoroughly unprofessional and misguided.

    But this should detract from how good we were. Purring is the word I’d use. We should have had 2 pens and could easily have scored a brace.

    Once it clicked we were moving the ball around the pitch at will and it was a delight to watch.

    Toby was my man of the match. He is a wonderful footballer who gets nothing like the credit he deserves. He settles and improves the back four. Toby and Hugo are the foundation of this team. Am glad we kept a clean sheet. If I have one niggle it is that when we were 4 to the good we were a little sloppy. A better team would have punished us. We should also have been more ruthless.

    This team can only get better and that is so exciting.

    I’ll sign off with a key image. Poch and the coaching staff clapping our boys off the pitch. That man can do no wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gah, should have mentioned the podcast. Hopeless at marketing ….

      Away end loud and clear all match, drowning out the russian commentary on my stream…

      Cheers, Al


  5. Thanks Alan,

    With hindsight, it was always unlikely that Stoke could keep that pace up for too long. This bodes well, as like last season, we may simply run over a few teams over 90 mins.

    Son looks like he is is running in diver’s boots much of the time, but two wonderful finishes, and his decision making and execution, when making a final pass or trying to beat his man has been mainly poor for us. I do like Son, but find him very frustrating, usually! His first goal might not be getting the praise it deserves as the technique was sublime and the execution unerring.

    Anyhow, the game was just what the doctor ordered, with a number of players playing themselves into form and the European Cup coming up on Weds. I thought Davies had a very fine game on his return. It should be said, however, that Stoke were abysmal, from 2-0 on, which made life very easy. Though credit to Spurs for making them lose the will to live.

    As a long-time reader and admirer, I was, I must admit, quite thrilled to put a voice to your name when listening to The Tottenham Way podcast. I don’t think I’ve listened to that one before, but I had to when i saw the cast list! I’ve ordered my copy and very excited i am too. Well done to you and Martin.


    • Thanks my friend. Podcast was a lot of fun, me and Martin can certainly go on bit. We’ll be on the SpursShow at the end of the month and maybe the Fighting Cock. You’ll be sick of it by then!

      Regards, Al


  6. Another great read Alan 👍🏻

    So happy with the way the whole team played like a well drilled unit.

    By the way Wanyama came off when we were 1.0 up, so no involvement for the 3rd. Looks like you were still distracted by your puppy 😁(Hope puppy is OK ? )

    Keep up the good work Alan.

    COYS 🙌


  7. Lovely result and performance, so it’s nice to leave the weekend on a high by reading such a positive article.My take on the game has already been covered by yourself or one of your readers so nothing about the game to add.

    Four games in, and I’m pretty sure four identical results to last season’s corresponding fixtures. Should we beat Sunderland 4-1 this week the team may leave the field to the music from the Twilight zone.

    Cheers, and I hope we all enjoy our return to the Champions League this week. DB


    • Good to feel upbeat again after a stuttering start. Stoke could prove to be one of our easier performances but we first won control of the game then took them apart. Let’s hope this is a good week for us.
      Best, Alan


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