'Everything I loved about Tottenham's dismantlement of Chelsea at Three-Point Lane'
Holy Christ, that was magnificent. I can't say I ever imagined we'd rout Chelsea five something in the build up to the game. I doubt anyone of us did but then that's probably more to do with our automated defensive mechanism that nurtures self-deprecation to protect us from the God given certainty we'd get spanked.
The expected (predicted) defeat was meant to be dished out by the almost unstoppable champions elect versus a home side that prefers to travel away to accumulate points. Oh ye of little faith (i.e. me). This game was textbook Tottenham. Not the Spursy definition that is commonly associated with calamitous football narratives but rather the true essence of its meaning that wraps itself around the astonishing performances that we can at times unexpectedly produce. These are the moments that make everything feel so perfect even if they remain rare moments of beauty. It's why these games are worth so much more when experienced less often (although I'd be happy to sample them more, I'm greedy like that).
Emotive intro over so let's break this defining derby up into segments.
It's been a long time coming but Spurs awakened to rapturous applause and pride in front of a White Hart Lane crowd positively buzzing, feeding into the game with noise that fuelled the players into giving something back to the supporters. This was the missing spark. This now has to be our benchmark for future home games. The players can produce against Chelsea so there should be no reason not to perform against the likes of WBA or Stoke. The level of professionalism key towards retaining a winning mentality that embodies resilience - no matter the opposing teams perceived quality. This game might prove to be the catalyst but will only be remembered as one if we repeat the same intensity again.
Be damned with attempting to criticise the coach pre-match. Firstly, he sees so much more than we do. So when supporters bemoan the inclusion of players they don't rate it's highly doubtful they're in the starting line-up without merit. With so much emphasis on expectancy, we don't always grasp patience and we almost always focus on the negatives rather than the future we're working towards.
Pochettino is months into his tenure. He's already made decisions based on selecting players he can trust, players he knows will embrace his instructions. That doesn't necessarily mean it will all work from the off. It takes time, it takes mistakes. It can also take sheer luck. Circumstance, no matter how accidental can also lend itself to progress. Ryan Mason (lost to injury again) and Harry Kane the perfect examples of the unexpected new breed of heroes injecting passion and determination into a bland one-dimensional collective.
Christian Eriksen, ineffectual early on in the season, is finding comfort and control in the final third. Players are linking well, so much more aware. The most telling thing is that on paper (especially when compared to the ridiculous wealth of Chelsea's side) we should not have rattled them as hard as we did. Yet we did. Nabil Bentaleb mature beyond his age. Nacer Chadli tireless with effort. It was inspired. We have to display these traits against all visiting sides. It's that simple, otherwise it's just a fluke and that is hardly an acceptable truth.
Bask in the glory of Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Townsend, Kane. Took us £100M to work out where the real treasure could be found.
Danny Rose was initially slaughtered for his defending when Eden Hazard skinned him in the lead up to Chelsea taking a 1-0 lead. Let's just step back a second. This was Hazard doing the skinning. Let's place the spotlight on his talent rather than lambaste the attempt from Rose. Yes he's constantly having to work hard to cover lost ground and make a winning tackle, but it would aid balance if we highlighted the good and not just the bad. Ben Davies is the better defender but against certain opposition we need energy going forward too.
Mousa Dembele stopping to call for a throw-on was a far more dubious passage of play in the build up to the 0-1.
Jan Vertonghen's handball wasn't exactly the big game changing moment that Jose Mourinho would have you believe. Watch the slow-mo. Wasn't hand/arm to ball. Yet Jose will do anything to add to his conspiracy portfolio and deflect from the utter chaos Spurs inflicted on his below par defence. I'd much rather have fingers pointed at Gary Cahill kicking/stamping on Harry Kane and taking out Danny Rose but I guess that doesn't quite fit the agenda.
Did Chelsea play poorly? Yes but only because Spurs played so well. Remember the game at Stamford Bridge? They slapped us down. We did the same to them. Want to talk about everything other than the actual facts, then go watch Jose being interviewed post-match.
Stupendously good. His first goal was the embodiment of Kane. Doesn't give a **** about anyone or anything, taking the ball and creating and scoring because he just felt like doing so. He's living breathing proof of the God particle. Don't you worry about a Large Hadron Collider when you can settle Harry into any grass patch and watch him pull the footballing universe apart. Out of absolutely nothing, there is the existence of something.
His second goal was world class. Mugged the Chelsea defenders off with a turn and composed finish that would have most pundits (with preferences for other clubs) lose the plot.
This man is our accidental king of convenience. He's not meant to be there, up front for us. He's not meant to be this player that can lead, create, support, run with pace, turn players, score with confidence. Yet there he is. Without fear, there he is.
We started so well, then 1-0 down against the run of play and I thought 'well typical that'. There was a patch after the Diego Costa tap-in that had me thinking this game would go the exact way Paul Merson predicted. Three-point Lane he citied pre-match. Factually incorrect considering that Chelsea have only won a single game in the past nine (ten now) encounters. Don't let reality get in your way Paul. The Kane equaliser was a shock twist to that perceived story-arc. Then followed the type of ruthless movement that Paul and other haters would have expected from Chelsea.
Clinical, cutting football through the middle. Eriksen to Chadli, the Dolphin dinks it, comes off the post and into the path of Danny 'he's better going forward than he is at he back' Rose to plant the ball in for the 2-1.
Just when you thought that head-rush was enough, Kane was tripped in the penalty area giving us an unreal opportunity to make it three one. Andros Townsend stepped up to score the penalty (our second goal in as many minutes) giving us that oh so dangerous dose of belief. I enjoyed this because Townsend is the maligned one, the obvious scapegoat. He took responsibility and buried it, side-netting. This - make no mistake about it - was the games big moment. 3-1 > 2-1.
Apparently Poch told the players to come out in the second forty-five and play like it was 0-0. Love that. We oblige and score a fourth. This that worldy from Kane, turning Nemanja Matic. Eden Hazard, annoyingly lively, scored after Federico Fazio gave the ball away and before we made it 5-2. Kane the provider this time, assisting Chadli. John Terry got one back late late on, a mere consolation. Although I'm not even going to pretend I wasn't nervous even at 4-1 up. This being Spurs, expect the impossible at all times. We proved to be so much better attacking than sitting deep.
We can sit and discuss Chelsea's alleged tiredness but how about our fitness - not just in this game but across Christmas? Effective rotation, smart tactics. Chelsea, masters of killing games off had no answer to finding a way back in. Had they perhaps perked up more during that period just after they took the 1-0 lead and pushed their full-backs higher up the pitch, they might have been more successful in securing that vital second.
Spurs perfect, combining that something out of nothing quality along with hard work and guile to become the first team to smash five past a Mourinho Chelsea side.
Let's not forget
The Hugo Lloris save from Oscar Azpilicueta down to his left. That could have changed the balance of the game in their favour. Or at the very least influenced a genuine attempt at coming back.
Chant of the night
"Are you Tottenham in disguise?" Sung by Spurs to Chelsea.
Doubtful we'll see masses of changes this January, considering we probably need to sell to buy. With Paul Mitchell in the early stages of reviewing the squad, the players that are likely to go are the ones that failed to react positively to Poch thus far. Others that are borderline (say Soldado, Capoue, Lennon) will survive till the summer unless replacements arrive. Could we do with a galvanising signing? Yes, but not to the detriment of the spirit and core we have crafted from patience and graft. I'll still bang the drum for more depth in midfield. Another striker also (what with the uncertainty concerning Soldado's form and the unreliable Adebayor). One vital consideration is avoiding the burn out of Kane. Do we have any other youth players we can promote?
Imagine being p*ssed off conceding a third goal against Chelsea and still winning by two clear goals? Oh the joys of being Spurs. Kudos to Pochettino. He's making it work, his way.
Before the game I wrote about how could we possibly go about beating Chelsea. I citied that if we went toe to toe with them, pound for pound we'd get knocked out. Yet in the past there have been examples when players (and the team) elevate their performance to a new seasonal heigh and it all just clicks. I basically placed my faith in faith. Amazingly, it wasn't an insane choice.
Chelsea suck the life out of games. They don't even have to play beyond 60% of their ability sometimes, such is their strength with control and clinical prowess. Spurs, for once, didn't just take the game to the opposition. They set a marker. We might still wish to thank good fortune but when it mattered most we sliced them up and they were the ones left frustrated and angry.
There is still so much room for improvement. The squad still needs adjusting. This is not ground-breaking news to any of us. However, within the constraints of this season and the current set of players we now have to look ahead and focus on momentum. Make the most of what we have as part of further developing and fine tuning the system and methodology instilled by Pochettino.
Only Liverpool and Man Utd away to come with everyone else (everyone being Arsenal and City) having to visit N17. We'll also have to worry about the rest of the visiting teams also, the unfancied that we love to lose against. Let's forget the first half of the season, the torturous learning curve and those depressing defeats. We're up there, we're involved. We've got a semi-final, knock-out stages in Europe and home league territory redemption there for the taking.
So take it Tottenham.