Mighty 2-1

 

Everything I liked about the North London Derby win

 

Nabil Bentaleb, back from the ACON and straight into the first team. Desire, commitment and a display of immense character. His maturity is something we've always banged on about. That he doesn't fear the challenge he's given and never shies away from responsibility. There is no  baggage with the likes of Nabil (and our other academy products). Passion and willingness is the fuel and thanks to far more astute guidance he's growing into the role in what remains a fledgling season in an unforgiving league. No hiding place. Nabil doesn't care because Nabil doesn't hide.

Ryan Mason might not be glamorous or have any outstanding natural ability that makes him stand out but unlike other more experienced options, he follows Pochettino's instructions like a relentless machine that simply doesn't falter. Still rough round the edges but the manner in which he tracks back to support the defence and the way he pushes forward to give us more bodies in the final third - as simplistic as this appears to be - it's pivotal to our shape and our transitions from midfield to attack. Just because it isn't particularly easy on the eye and is functional doesn't diminish the quality it brings to the team in terms of movement.

Harry Kane. Just how many more superlatives are needed? His heart and his spirit to better himself, is relentless. Kane is taking ownership and he's driving forward with complete allegiance to the shirt. He wasn't someone tagged as being naturally gifted yet there's no disputing he is. The graft he's put in to improve himself appears to be an exercise in confidence. Timid and awkward in his early games for Spurs, it was hard to identify a player that would almost be complete in terms of what he's capable of (rather than the standard he can reach which is still there for him to aim for).

Kane can lead from the front, drop deep, pass, score opportunistic goals, instinctive goals, goals out of nothing. He has all the traits. He's a team player and still has that extra spark to score a goal birth from individualistic brilliance. All this, in his first proper season for Spurs. He's enthusiasm and love for Tottenham makes me even more content that when he does suffer a lull of form, he'll still possess the belief to pick himself up and regain it. It's extraordinary the manner in which he's elevated his stature. When kicked the ball out away to Manchester United, there was an almost patronising cult status handed to him - that somehow this would be is pinnacle for Spurs.

His face after scoring both goals was something special. The face of any given supporter in the stand celebrating - that was Kane on the field. You can retweet photos of him as a kid in a red shirt all you like, but as an adult there is no denying his allegiance.

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Massive kudos to Poch and others in support of him that have embraced the almost forgotten art of patience. This season was always going to be transitional. I'll bang that same drum again; Inherited side. Unquantifiable players. Squad imbalance. He's worked out his core and the ones that will sit on the fringe. He's training methodology has been nothing short of phenomenal. 40 odd games and yet we never stop running, never stop fighting for that goal late on. All this and arguably we've got the real change to come this summer when we cut our losses on players that simply don't fit into the blueprint and our new recruitment ethos kicks in.

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Arsene Wenger's ploy to sit deep and counter. Okay, so we did this at the Emirates earlier in the season. We did this because we had no choice, what with our disjointed, dysfunctional group of players. Arsenal on the other hand are meant to be - as per usual - the team that are there or thereabouts. Always on the front foot. They employed a similar tactic against Manchester City and were praised for their shrewd calculated ingenuity. I guess we should feel privileged for being treated in the same way. Sadly for them, their players deep positioning was also deeply flawed.

They scarified their attacking philosophy and proved that their plan B can be as ineffectual as their plan A (the plan A being great in attack but not so great defending). Plan B sees them sit back, counter, score but this time they failed to react to it convincingly. They remained deep whilst Spurs just kept on plugging away at them. When we made the breakthrough, the rise of our tempo and the way we pinged the ball around their pen box was fantastic. Still no reaction from them. Just the counter. It's only one game but I hope it's preview of things to come. Us consolidating  a pressing, clinical style with them eternally stuck with a single plan which is only great if the opposing side are not. Wenger was fearful.  That worked out perfectly for us. Allowing us to have more of the possession was for sure a 'technical mistake'. Seems they need Alexis Sanchez to function and give them some degree of urgency. The one man team label has swapped colours in North London.

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Hugo Lloris. The goalkeeper that makes world class shot stopping look like an ordinary day between the sticks. Performances like this, in my gullible way, make me think he'll want to stick around with us if we keep on moving upwards. Tottenham's spine continues to strengthen and it starts with Hugo at the back.

Was impressed with Eric Dier in his natural position. Kyle Walker was erratic with his defensive positioning but gave us plenty going forward. Erik Lamela remains - at times - a little boy lost in that he isn't quite able to man up and own the space ahead of him but I can't fault his energy. He's trying real hard. I'm not going to give up on him yet but we are still waiting for a truly defining step-up moment which might see him find levels he's yet to reach. It can happen.

It's happened with Kane. Only concern is that Kane is far more adaptable to life in England. Lamela - for all his natural ability - will have to work on his strength and mentality, much like Kane worked extra training shifts on his touch and shooting. In the NLD, if you re-watch the game and focus on him (Lamela), he was more involved than you might wish to credit him for. He has guts for sure and his intentions to keep the flow of the ball moving in a positive direction says a lot about his desire to impress. That game-changing element is still lacking. Don't forget - patience has been key all season.

Loved Danny Rose. Yes, he got skinned by Welbeck for their goal but his tussles with the other Danny were great. Bit of old skool thunderous in-game hatred to spice things up. Mousa Dembele continues his resurgence but remains at times too deliberate with his movement. It's almost like he steps onto a launching pad, then steps off it. Another one that needs to break through the mental obstacle that is stopping him from showering in a waterfall of confidence. He has so much ability, he needs to stand tall, chest pumped out and just believe he can destroy.

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Got to praise us again regarding that maligned identity. Biggest thing is that there is now a connection between us and the team. We need more atmospheres and displays like this one at the Lane to bind us together. For too long we've not quite worked out what type of team we're meant to be but now thanks to that spine and the way they execute the coaches instructions, it's obvious the players want to play for him and want to entertain us. The academy connection is what gels it altogether and has reignited the support...'everywhere we go'.

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Spurs criticised by opposing fans with the suggestion we lack humility? When you've got youth products playing their hearts out, I'd be fairly p*ssed off if they didn't react like that. I'll have that over pre-arranged PR stunts like taking a selfie or jumping in the crowd to pluck out a flag. As for the bragging rights, it's only natural right. Far too often we've made Arsenal look so much better than they are, capitulating to further the humiliation. This time we bossed them, out played them and placed them firmly back into their box. I think we're well within our rights to enjoy the win.

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Pulsating derby. At 1-0 down, even though the very worst thoughts played out in our minds the players on the pitch never allowed it to get to them. In fact at one point in the game I actually found myself in a zen moment. I was confident. I couldn't see us losing. Naturally this made me nervous and my emotions flipped because I'm not meant to - we are not meant to enjoy a NLD. It's not the type of game anyone can enjoy.

We dug deep, kept looking for a way through and we did so without panic, without surrendering tempo. The late winning goal the trademark. Spurs are turning up for the big games.

Up next, Liverpool. The month of would be giants continues.