Tottenham 4 WBA 0
There are not enough exquisitely descriptive words in the English language to rain down from the heavens onto the turf at White Hart Lane that would do this performance justice. Although it's not comparable to the intensity and pressure of say our 2-0 wins over both Manchester City and Chelsea this season, it still ranks as high. The beautiful ease of dismantlement that left Tony Pulis and his team as mere spectators to the games one sided narrative was imperiously sublime. Tottenham controlled and dismantled West Brom like a God toying with mortals. Thunderclaps and lightning bolts, this was peak Mauricio Pochettino.
With three at the back, supporting the marauding Danny Rose and Kyle Walker pushing forward, we're on a crest of a wave that could reach biblical levels. Six successive wins in the league, confidence and swagger clicking back into place all across the first eleven.
Previously, when we struggled for refinement we did so individually and collectively thanks to several long-running grievances. Suspensions, injuries, the EUROs and Wembley accompanied with plenty of slow brooding soul searching. Whilst many supporters felt weighed down and ignored patience, the players and coach grafted on. Once more, another reminder that we're not comparable to Tottenham teams of old. There's no panic or knee-jerk within. We are resilient. We know what we're capable of when we're on point.
We're on point.
With no disrespect meant towards WBA (their fans were extremely needy on the day, querying the lack of attention we gave them vocally), this game was pure exhibition. Our passing, the movement and our transitional play left the visitors dreaming of possession like a child wishing Santa would bring her a unicorn.
I can only recall two incidents in our penalty area of near relevance; Hugo Lloris saving point blank (although it was offside) and then a failure by someone (who knows who?) to pull the trigger. The rest of the match was a showcase of skills and vision. Touch and tempo. This was Spurs at breathtaking pelt, creating chance after chance, stretching and pulling the Albion apart.
Dele Alli and Harry Kane were sensational, linking up to craft and create moments of realtime art. You see, this is what happens when our top players are all in sync. Lucky for us we have eleven of available. It was majestic to watch, Pochettino's team stunning with both their swarming on and off the ball.
WBA might have been outclassed in every single way imaginable but they were never given an opportunity to perhaps puncture the bubble of non-existence that Spurs trapped them in. It was cruel yet I guess the four nil scoreline was kind.
The manner in which we pressed when they had rare pockets of ownership was testament to our ethic. Testament to our mentality. Alongside this familiar Poch trait was the quick, sharp and pace-fuelled football that had us teasing a goal every time we attacked. Where we suffered earlier in the season with fragmented passages from defence into midfield into and then the final third, we are now instinctively dominant. During the slump, we created chances but not with conviction. Currently, the execution is assassin like. Our goal difference near legendary compared to the days of my youth.
I'm not going to scribble down a re-run of the games key moments. The entirety of the game was key. You have to watch it again and if you have then you'll know that seeing is believing. I'm not going overboard here either. I'm not salivating, I promise. I'm also not about to write a begging letter to THFC for a DVD release. What resonates is this Spurs team continuing to evolve and improve. We persistently retain the level of performance required to be competitive, even after we suffer a rare lull. Or in the case, a prolonged slump that included domestic and European dismay. A true test of character and longevity of our tenacity.
I'm not just referring to the patches of winning form (when citing evolution), like the current run we're on. I'm referring to the progression and continuation of the work Poch is doing above and beyond our weekly excursions. From his arrival to the last campaign to this one. Whilst the fairy-tale over in Leicester has gone from Hollywood to Brothers Grimm, we are sat writing another chapter in our maturing story. Another sleeper hit that's on the verge of box office glory.
God damn, I love this team.
Christian Eriksen, lost and isolated during a desolate period is now the inventor and instigator of time and space once more. He's conducting. He's assisting. He's regained his oracle like sight. Knows where to look to make it happen. Knows it's going to happen because he's already dinked the ball into the path of X player. Which is just about us much as you can ask for from the man often tagged as the brains of the team.
If you have the one refined creative outlet, he has to be involved. Constantly. We suffer when he isn't but at the moment all the suffering is exclusively for the opposition only. In all honestly, Eriksen (at a young age) was maligned at times because of his inconsistency. Players that are almost always consistent are hardly ones that the majority of clubs are blessed with. Mainly because that would make them world class (a word often abused by pundits and fans). So let's keep those feet grounded and appreciate that sometimes you have to cater for those drops in heightened sense and simply wait for the awareness to return. Then take full advantage.
Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the best full-backs/wing-backs in the land. Bruising, blistering and battleborn. Key to our 352 (343) formation. One that our coach has gradually brought to the fore. Where we had our fledgling identity last season that took us close to the title, we've adapted and improved by providing more intent to the flanks. Width was an issue and a major discussion point for some time (more so when results were not grand). Spurs are in phase 2 now and it's looking powerful. This is a dimension we can not afford to live without.
Toby Alderweireld is king. Much like Ledley, he brings a calmness to our back-line. Assurance that emanates across the spine of the team. Another Poch trademark is to have a linchpin in every area that synergies them all into a singularity. Hence why, arguably, we can be weakened if we are missing too many instrumental parts. Our defence is worthy of a title win. It's the foundation for everything ahead of it. Everything being what we produce in the final third.
Then there's Eric Dier, mature and versatile. Yet another head strong player. Able to adapt to his managers instructions, no complaints. With his shift from midfield into defence, he's got on with it and done so with peak professionalism. Another poster boy for 'team player'. Another leader.
Mousa Dembele, glides around the pitch with the ball glued to his feet, a dynamic nucleus powering all that surrounds him. Watch the disturbance he generates when running into the final third and the subsequent dissolving of the opposing sides defensive structure as they attempt to pick up the movement of our forwards. Mousa is Moses, parting the red sea to allow those following him to March through.
Alongside him, Victor Wanyama destroys anything that might seek to pose a threat to the balance of the game centrally. Victor is Moses closing the red sea. Have pity on the drowned. Think back to when he signed and how many of us thought there was no way he would improve us. Patience provides pomp.
Dele Alli, a raw gem that glistens so brightly it blinds the opposition, allowing for a routine nutmeg and brilliant pass. Some of the interchanging between him and Harry left me in a higher state of consciousness. I was sat up in the West Stand, alongside the bourgeoisie, jaw dropping every time they swashbuckled with intent to dazzle and dent. Think I dropped my bagel half a dozen times. It's early days to talk about them as an iconic partnership, but then days like this are the ones we tend to remember, years from now. There's a fair few of them already collected from last year into this one. And let's face it (personally) I can't pretend this team isn't shaping up to be the very best of my lifetime.
As for Big Daddy Kane himself. I don't tend to digest stats unless they're factually impossible to ignore. His goal-scoring record is already an absolutely tremendous achievement. One season wonder, two season, three season...you wonder why the haters still wish to downplay his ability. He's one of the most complete centre-forwards we've birthed and comfortably one of the best in the country. His attitude is immaculate in terms of determination to over come any given mental or physical obstacle.
Even when he's punished by gruelling fixture congestion and England misdemeanours, tired and almost broken...then injured...he comes back and he once more proves his quality is undeniable. His talent on the pitch is a monument to self-belief and self-improvement. Much like Gareth Bale, he had to grow into a player that could then deliver his potential. And much like the Welsh wizard, he has his own cosmic given talents. Touch, precision and timing. Awareness of space and team-mates. Predatory goal-scoring. The man is a beast. A father and a hat-trick hero in a week. He is everything we are, everything we've become, everything we deserve.
This is nearing pornographic levels of appreciation. Let's steady the ship.
WBA only ever offered half-hearted physicality. It was short lived. A bogey that has often irritated was plucked out of our nose and effortlessly flicked into the ether. Always awkward, stubborn and drilled for frustration. This time round they were murdered with such intelligent finesse and virtuosity you'd have thought this was a Alfred Hitchcock movie. Tottenham's fluidity and togetherness, too monstrous for them to handle, a sheer delight for us lose ourselves in. It's enough to give you vertigo.
The single blemish on the game was the loss of Jan Vertonghen, a cruel repeat of last seasons despondency. Kevin Wimmer or Ben Davies available to deputise. The January transfer window will no doubt also pose questions for both the Vincent Janssen conundrum and the necessity for that something extra in depth. We're in a stronger position than last season (Chelsea still have a buffer ahead of us and the chasing pack). As supporters, we are once more looking towards consolidating what we have. Safeguarding it with the injection of one or two new players to keep the squad fresh and allow us to compete in the league till the very end. And of course navigate through the cup games and the unavoidable stress of squad selection - unless we get knocked out, which tends to be the preference when sh*t gets real in the league.
Erik Lamela is on his way back (from Roma and his rehabilitation) and will offer us that enigmatic chaos he brings with his ankle-biting press game and natural connectivity he often shares with Christian and co. With Jan out for a lengthy spell, it's a warning that we need to be fully prepared. Last season, at the death, losing two players completely deflated us (although arguably the WBA and Chelsea draws were the ones that had us switch off much to the dismay of our manager). We need to retain our professionalism. I doubt we can do anything less.
Is this blog too glittery for you?
Sorry, I can't help myself. The football we witnessed, we're witnessing...it's in the now and it's there to be enjoyed. It's the whole point of it and the reason why we follow our team. Living in the moment, embracing the journey...it's the most satisfying way to immerse yourself. Even with the risk of failure. But what is failure if you're deeply invested in a challenge to the point where you believe you can fulfil it? What is failure if you are truly seeking to achieve the very pinnacle? Don't say it out loud, you'll echo.
I've never quite understand fans (of any club) that are more concerned with the association of success, no matter what and with a constant sacrifice of enjoyment. It's an escapism so escape. That isn't always possible. Some among us live football the way they live their life. Others use football as a means to channel emotions that can't otherwise find a platform for. There is no right or wrong way but then again, there probably is. I get that we want silverware, that all fans desire it. But the silverware is only attained thanks to what preceded it.
When our gaffer talks about belief, it isn't some mystical fantasy of thought. It fuels the team forward and then binds into something tangible. It ultimately breeds confidence, momentum and style. This gives us performance, moments of magic and the all important points.
There's a lot to be said for expansive outlays of energy, weaving together the mind and body, oozing sweat as you build up to a finale with continuous explosions. All done with an intimacy that has you as one with the club you love.
What's happening now could be the very thing that happens before we tie white and blue ribbons on a chunk of metal with our name etched into it. Dismissing the emotions that come with the pressure of winning games is like wanting to skip all the sex just to experience the orgasm.
Still...what an orgasm it could be.