Spurs 3 Stoke 1: Just like watching Barcelona
I had to rub my eyes a couple of times yesterday evening to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. There’s been nothing sexy about our football for a while now and although yesterday wasn’t quite Agent Provocateur the performance had plenty of rampant rabbits making plenty of noise in forward positions. There was titillating balls and penetration, as White Hart Lane vibrated. I’m so glad I come. Came. Went. I’m so glad I went to the game. Went.
One cold shower later..........Yes it was only Stoke City. But let’s place things into perspective. We haven’t been playing well all season. We hardly score any goals at White Hart Lane. We’ve lacked any kind of confidence and swagger for a fair while. It was important we won, more than anything, but winning with a little bit of style and slickness means we can finally have something to smile about. Simply put, Spurs showed their Premiership pedigree against a newly promoted side. Something we have failed to do against most of the opposition we have faced.
Modric was sublime in midfield, orchestrating the tempo and playing clever balls. Showed an abundance of skill on the ball, and once Palacios slots in alongside him you get the feeling he will continue to improve to life in the Prem. Zokora was busy, getting stuck in, and was lucky to escape without a yellow card. Still lacks that footballing brain to make him a quality defensive midfielder. You can never fault his effort or athleticism, but that’s not enough to claim a place in the starting line-up. Lack of competition, so looking forward to Wilson’s debut and hopefully Zokora raising his game to fight for his place. Hopefully Palacios won’t give too many free-kicks away in dangerous positions. Something of a triat for our Didier.
Lennon started the first half mini-goal spree with a great dinking run and shot. Defoe showing vision to play in Lennon who darted towards goal and scored with his left-foot. Kodjak moment. Lennon continues to impress this season, rediscovering form I thought had been lost. If he can get more power behind his shots, then he’ll score plenty more. But I won’t lose sleep if he continues to place them the way he did yesterday.
Pavlyuchenko and Defoe then showed us a glimpse of what we hope is the start of a very beautiful relationship. We got to see Pav’s all-round game in technocolor, including a wonderful highlight for goal number two. Without looking, he sent a ball into the path of Defoe. Great vision from the Russian. It's the simple things in life, no? Who cares if he can’t speak English as long as he can speak the language of football?
Defoe hammered the ball into the back of the net rather than attempting to score across the keeper (which is what I would have tried had I found myself in a similar position on the Hackney Marshes, before looking up at the sky and cursing the Gods for the divot). That’s confidence. JD has an aura of maturity about him nowadays, with his game improving in abundance (he was only away for a year – maybe we can loan out players more often). He doesn’t get caught offside that often nowadays, which is worth a few pints in celebration alone. Pav, who usually plays ok and still scores - played very well, but didn’t score. Not that I care too much. He was a livewire.
Modric crossed with his left peg for Dawson to nod it in (great header) to make it 3-0. Party time. I laughed out loud when Dawson followed up his goal celebration with yet another one, running towards the Park Lane with what looked like a disorganised guard of honour when his team mates huddled around him. I love the big lump. The unbridled joy displayed was felt all around the stadium, apart from that bit in the corner.
Spurs? 3-0 up at the Lane? Are you mad?
All four players buzzed around with the type of swagger we haven’t seen all season. Swagger with end-product, which is the only type of swagger that matters. Tottenham clicked. Could have had a few more in the first 45 minutes. It was Charlie and the Chocolate factory stuff.
And relax. Feet firmly back on the ground.
Second half didn’t go according to plan. It probably would have been more of the same, but a mistake from Dawson allowed Stoke to break and score, with James Beattie (does he ever NOT score against us?) getting one back. That gave Stoke a bit more belief but it was never enough to trouble us. Yes, as a Spurs fan, even 3-1 up at home is enough to make the experience uncomfortable. I joked we should bring on Bale to end his hoodoo, but only if we go 6-1 up and only in the 91st minute.
Stoke, in the first half, had three good opportunities. Did we ride our luck? Yes. But don’t all teams? They missed another very decent chance in the second half too. In the end, we got the points we deserved and players can take the confidence up to Bolton where we could do with ending that particular hoodoo.
So, in conclusion. We kept the ball very well, played it around the park with a little bit of a spark, passed it across the middle with urgency and precision and even got the fullbacks involved. There was hunger, pace. Bit of spirit and passion. And most importantly belief. Wasn't perfect by a long-shot. Would have been nice to take control of the ball (win it back) and dictate more when the impetus was momentarily lost with the Stoke goal. We need to boss it for two halves, not just one. One step at a time I guess.
Barcelona? More like Brazil, innit?