22nd away Cardiff
24th away Villa (league cup)
28th home Chelsea
3rd away Anzhi Makh'kala (Europe)
6th home West Ham
Two weeks. Five games. A plethora of players. Blood vessels set to burst.
To continue the good vibe sensation tingling through me, I can't help but retain this confident optimism for the season ahead. How things pan out will depend on the next level of management Andre Villas-Boas is able to immerse himself in. One of the repeated complaints of last season was how much we held back in the manner in which we approached games (once the game kicked off rather than the training field preparation in the week before). It was at times all very measured and deliberate and methodical but there lacked that free spirit of expression and that glory ethos we all like to cite every so often. There was no oomph, aside from some moments of individual brilliance. As a unit, there was no glamour and flair. There still isn't, but we're edging towards something that's far easier on the eye. Be it more technical than organic.
We all know the fanciful, shirts tucked out socks rolled down Spursy football isn't quite likely. Footballing reality will always come a knocking and kick the door down to subtly remind us that the ideology we possess as Spurs fans might not actually work in practicality. See Harry Redknapp's 'go out and just play' strategy as the perfect example of how good it can be when it's very good but how frustrating and one dimensional it ends up when there is no secondary plan of attack and mobility.
That's not to say there isn't room for a little 'the game is about glory'. I think aggressive flank play and crafty guile through the middle is more than passable for the faithful.
These days we have a far more complete set of players. Less of the lesser players and more depth in key areas. Players that are versatile and inter-changeable. We're talking genuine quality across the pitch. Potentially, say if Redknapp had all these players to his disposal we might will be capable of some fairly dynamic pulsating football. Possibly. But those reoccurring brick walls would still be evident when up against the more plucky or clever opposing sides.
I'm placing a lot of trust in AVB here. I've mentioned it a few times already this season but I feel that we're slowly (but surely) heading in the only direction we can go. Forward.
I said from the start this would take time. It's crazy that one entire season is seen to be more than enough time for some. We all know how last season was one spent with players compensating for others. Perhaps we (the coach) wasn't too brave at times or made the right decisions, but I can't help feel that the mistakes made will make us stronger.
The missing ingredients are now available and won't require too much seasoning. We'll have to endure a bedding in period for some of our new arrivals (some will settle quicker than others). Perhaps in January further additions (departures) will play out as more fine tuning is has - although for the money spent the pivotal goal now has to be consistency and momentum. At some point we'll have to settle with our 'perfect eleven'. Rotation will still be important, but there are certain players that will soon be demanding a first team place based on their pedigree (and hopefully their form).
The 2-0 against Norwich was a delight. Fair enough, it was only Norwich, but Eriksen provided us with vision that made an immediate impact when pushing towards the box. We looked confident, bossed it from the start and although it was only 2-0 it could have been so much more. Suddenly you flash-forward four months and fantasise about how fluid our play is in offensive positions with the young Dane pulling the strings.
There's no doubt an injection of pace (width) is still required on both flanks and the hope (again) with AVB is that our tempo is retained at a high level rather than one that slowly plods along. When I cite pace/width, I'm not necessarily suggesting the traditional direct galloping down the wings. We've got attacking midfielders/forwards that prefer to invert, cut in and play centrally. Lamela will be key here (as a right sided option) once he finds his Premier groove. The guy oozes class. If he was a sports car, he' still be parked up in the drive way getting washed and waxed. Once the ignition is turned and the engine purrs...oh my days, I'm faint thinking about it. I actually like how some are underestimating the player based on, well to be fair, based on nothing other than the fact he's being slowly introduced.
Once Lennon is back, we'll have further ability to adapt the side if required based on quality of opposition.
The midfield will continue to improve with the likes of Paulinho, Sandro and Dembele - as all players (for differing reasons) are working towards top form.
Rose looked good. Anyone missing Benny? Would not have thought I'd be saying that this season. Danny, another 'fearless' youngster wanting to prove something. No doubting we still need to look at the left-back position (depth wise). I'll stick my hands up and say I might have underestimated Rose myself as he looks hungry to impress. Like any kid, still needs coaching/developing.
Sig in amongst the goals. Holtby still frantic in play, but there is something positive in his enthusiasm and desire. I still think he can slow it down a touch. Would love to know how AVB plans to use him. Either centrally (in place of Dembele) when we require someone to run, hassle and recycle the ball intelligently. Or perhaps slowly nurtured into an alternative for Eriksen (the latter is less likely currently).
Options, options, options.
Every 'problem' we have is one with a definitive pay off - as long as we don't slack or fail to show intent. Not quite sure if the football will ever be as expansive as the ilk of football we like to dream about but at the same time I find it highly implausible that we'll ever seek to compete for silverware playing the quintessential 'Jose' way - even if that particular way has given Chelsea success in the past. AVB understands the importance of our traditions. He's just going to make us wait a little whilst everything gels together.
Spurs have the players to do the dirty work. They have the players to provide the inventiveness and trickery and flair. We need to aim for that perfect balance. Thankfully we have enough about us to avoid too much of a sacrifice whilst we work towards it.
Was almost a non-contest. At the time of writing, not too clear on extent of the injuries to Rose, Dembele and Kaboul but hopefully not serious in any way - Rose the only doubt. Lovely goal from Erikson. Great finishes by Defoe. No necessity to over-exert and if we can play like this and qualify quickly from the group then there's the option to rest key players when rotating. The most prominent insight to these early Europa League games is how much more of a team we look compared to the past two seasons - even with the changes made.
With the new players, these games are actually helping us out rather than being a hindrance.
I'm actually lost on this one. He had time off due to his brothers death but some of AVB's comments and Defoe's recent words on the matter suggest there's more to this. I'm reminded of the rumours that he was being touted to Turkish clubs and then Adebayor's remark that he wouldn't be leaving.
Ironic how I hoped Adebayor would not have any distractions coming into this season. His form end of last season suggests he can still provide us with options. Hopefully I'm reading too much into this and there is no conspiracy.
Upcoming congested fixtures.
'No easy games'. I love those three words. A visit to Wales. Two cup games and two London derbies. I'll take that momentum right about now thank you very much. The Villa game is probably the one that might end up being sacrificed (in terms of player input) - but hopefully (much like the Europa games) there's enough about us to compete and win. I always worry about how bothered players are with the League Cup, what with the importance of CL football in the modern game.
This is our first big test IMO, with the Chelsea game a potential early season energiser.
Does actually feel that the season 'proper' is about to start.