If you thought Christmas was busy then don't blink in January. Our score draw at Turf Moor in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup means we've added to our already bloated new year fixture list. Burnley visit the Lane next week and if we get past them we'll face Leicester City (again in N17) towards the end of the month. We've also got Sheffield United home and away in the League Cup. That's two games from a Wembley final. In amongst the hopeful protracted cup glory we have league games; Palace, Sunderland and WBA. If that isn't enough for your consumption add to it the maddening expectations of the January transfer window.
Nabil Bentaleb is away with Algeria for international duty in the African Cup of Nations. It took Mauricio Pochettino the best part of six months to find shape in the middle and see his instructions play out with discipline. When Bentaleb and Ryan Mason (injury jinxed currently) are not pairing up in the centre there remains a fragility to our system. A lack of faith and deliverance of philosophy. It's still part of the learning curve the players have had to adapt to with Poch deliberating on the ones he can trust.
Rotation will play a massive part in the next few weeks. When doesn't it? Fatigue and the potential for injuries the concern. It's a worry because the players that have formed the backbone for our slow brooding resurgence are key. Lose them and we'll lose that shape and momentum. Christian Eriksen initially flattered to deceive, ghosting in games unable to cope with the congestion. Our improved team cohesiveness now allows him to boss his influence in the final third. He's involved, instrumental with vision and keeps the intent quick and sharp when we push forward.
The cult of Harry Kane continues. Is it form or class? Who cares? He's leading by example and growing in confidence. He's scoring a variety of goals, displaying touch and composure and also has that wonderment of that 'something out of nothing'. He keeps redefining himself as he plays with complete expression and no pressure. Add Nacer Chadli into the mix and the inter-changing of pass and movement is the template for other players to step up to when given the chance.
The problem remains; lose Kane and Eriksen and we don't have much in the way of galvanising replacements. We have far too many players that are failing to step up (Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Mousa Dembele and so on).
January will tell us plenty about our character and tenacity. Pochettino will have further questions answered about those that have yet to instil confidence when selected. The transfer window might be required to add a little extra security and depth, but possibly only if we sell first.
We've played thirty-two games this season so far. This month is even more important than the last one. That's progress. If we didn't look ahead with a little trepidation then we're doing something wrong.