Norwich 0 Spurs 2
Sensational dominance away from home. Okay, so it was only the Canaries but the manner in which we styled our attacking intentions deserves applause. It was an emphatic display of confident football. The only negative? We scored (just) the two goals. If you want to nit-pick further, Friedel was uncertain on occasions when reaching for the ball and we lacked composure at times with the final pass/shot in the final third. Which is probably why it was only the two goals scored. But it’s Christmas and its best to retain a festive spirit.
First half, Norwich got the ball forward, but hardly threatened. We looked more than comfortable with Parker and Modric dictating the games tempo and Walker having plenty of the ball on the right-hand side, offensively and otherwise. The football, our brand of football was superb. Up until the point where you’re meant to stick it in the net. Cutting edge not evident, but then we’ve had a habit of creating a dozen chances before slotting one home in a few games this season.
An argument you’ll keep on hearing put forward is that surely against the likes of Norwich (no offence to them) we should start with two forwards. Not convinced that a more basic formational structure will make much of a difference when we have Pavlyuchenko as the only available option to partner Adebayor – because asking van der Vaart to play further forward is unlikely to be successful (it’s not in his nature to remain locked into a position without the license to drop deep and free role).
With Sandro also in the mix both Rafa and Bale were apparently told to free roam to their hearts content. Enough to give tacticians heart palpitations, but this is what Harry does so well. Give a player the freedom to express themselves knowing that the midfielders with more disciplined responsibilities can take care of defensive duties. You could hardly scoff at the movement of the front three as a result. Pulsating to watch, just a little untidy with the execution.
Defensively all good too. We still look vulnerable from set pieces and we still lack imagination and drilled in training offensive set-pieces (perhaps Harry is telling the players to just kick the ball and see what happens). I’d go as far as suggesting that if we were savvy from dead balls we’d score one or two every few games which would obviously bolster that winning margin. Think we’re quite wasteful at the moment where that’s concerned.
Second half we made the possession and our quality count. The opener was just a brilliant goal. Rafa’s pass to Adebayor (back to goal) who danced with the ball at his feet, mesmerising the collection of defenders watching as he protected the ball and then having the coolness and awareness to play it into Bale who shot under John Ruddy in goal.
The second was a showcase of brutal power and pace. Bale asking for the ball in central midfield then bursting forward through the middle all the way to the opposition’s pen area before complementing the savage speed with a cute controlled chip over Ruddy for his brace.
It was akin to Spurs slapping Norwich down with two outstanding moments of ruthlessness, a reminder also to themselves that there is no hype in belief.
This was a very decent away performance – one that outlines again that we’re a proper fully fledged side rather than another ill devised pretender. It’s not just about this one game, it’s the momentum built across this season. The reaction to the defeat at Stoke. We have far greater challenges in terms of the fixture list in the near future. Challenges that will also test the mental strength of the side and perhaps the depth of the squad which will no doubt once more take up hours of coverage on Sky Sports News in January.
Defence was solid. Walker a stand-out and Kaboul very comfortable and dominant. The midfield a powerhouse. Rafa at times sublime with his movement and his range of passing. Parker, perhaps disguised a little in terms of performance level, as you tend to focus on the more flamboyant – but he remains imperative as the heart of the side with Luka providing the beat. Re-watch the game and concentrate on his (Luka) work ethic and touch and the manner in which he seems to be involved in everything.
Sandro is getting game time and with Lennon out I would not complain to see him keep up appearances. Intelligent, completley focused yet beastly, you half expect him to disappear mid-match and travel back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Then there’s Bale, the free-roaming version. Two fantastic goals and most definitely turning it up a notch – which is what we need all our players to do. Adebayor also proving that footwork is as vital as clinical finishing, what with it being a team game.
Our midfield has been magnificent this season. I love the fact you can look at the Spurs side and just think "that aint too shabby at all".
You can tell this is a unit of players, one that loves playing football with such exuberance. Loved that eleven pass move with Bale almost giving it the finish it deserved. We have organically grown into this team over the past few seasons. I can remember so many times in the past twenty years where we would shift from one transition to another knowing the foundations had to be rebuilt.
Let's not kid ourselves, there's a lot of pressure on this team. They don't appear to be showing any strains. Long may that continue.
Wonderful Xmas then. All the other results seemed to go in our favour which is always a bonus. Swansea next then we stay home for three home games (including that game in hand) before travelling up to City. January – it’s season defining.
Title contenders? I'd rather us focus on continuing to be the best footballing side in the country. If we pick up a CL spot and a cup along the way, I'll make sure to smile in approval.
Love the shirt.