Things I wanted to see (did they happen?)
A look back at the Norwich away match preview. I hoped for many things.
Three points. Absolutely no room for complacency and excuses. Look at the table. A win (and another against Swansea) going into the WBA home game sets up January to be the pivotal month of the season before the hard slog kicks in. Psychologically, this is big. Not Godzilla big. Dinosaur big. We simply cannot freeze, extinction is out of the question. Resilience please.
We won. 2-0. Resilience? Sure, yeah, why not. But you might have struggled to spot it what with all the oozing class getting right up in your face. My word.
Ruthlessly clinical up front. None of this Andy Cole ‘its takes five chances to score one’ teaser football. Either pass the ball into the back of the net or smash it in. There’s no room left for pretenders now, only contenders. Otherwise, we'll left anchored, cannonball away from sinking.
Okay, so hardly ruthless in the first half. But there was something ominous about the possession % stats through-out the game. We'd make it count, you believed that when watching. Nice feeling not to be biting the nails and swearing. Second half, we did just that (made it count - no biting or bad language). Finding that next level might will be the difference between winning 2-0 and winning 5-0 in future. If greed is your vice. Or if you simply prefer to have stronger goal difference.
Luka Modric. In the middle.
What a middle it was. If Modric was a waist he'd be Kate Upton's waist. I'm going to be biased here. Best midfielder in the country. Absolutely essential to the way we play and completely irreplaceable so the Daily Mail and friends...jog on. The irony of how things have turned out has not been lost on me. Although cue 'Luka to Utd' rumours doing the rounds in the next few weeks regardless of what Luka (via agent) tells us in the Croatian press. If you prefer to stay clear of all the ITK...just Google Kate Upton. Should keep you busy for a month.
Unequivocal focus and professionalism. We have stunning quality. On paper we should be trouncing the likes of Norwich. Paper won’t fly unless you make an aeroplane out of it. So fly Tottenham, fly. The last thing I want is an origami canary, smug smile, staring at my despairing face.
No nervous moments and dodgy displays. Spurs turned up, turned it on and turned away with all three points in back pocket. It's something we should sit back and lap up. We don't half win games these days. Our away form might be the difference between 4th and 3rd as long as we continue to retain the consistency at the Lane.
Rafa van der Vaart to be effective for at least 80 minutes. What? It's still sort of Christmas, so let me wish for a miracle.
Quality display. Such is the man's vision and ability he seems wasted when stuck out on the flank (not that he ever seems to stay there). Worked for the team as part of the 'forward three' against Norwich with effect. Perhaps he slept on the sofa rather than his wife leading up to this game. No apparent hamstring concerns. When he plays with such freedom, you can see why we are better suited to having him rather than a more out and out striker. Although against more stern opposition, he might need to work twice as hard. But then, that's a given.
Defending. Good old fashion defending without any lapses of concentration. Strength down the spin and at the heart of the back line. Unity. No Ledley today doesn’t mean we have to revert to displays with odd moments of calamity – i.e. losing spatial awareness. We're not kids, we're men. So get a grip and smack down any bullish behaviour from the hosts.
Thought pre-match Norwich might bully our centre-backs, but don't remember too many heart in mouth moments. No Ledley, but almost felt like he was playing as we appeared assured at the back. Swansea might be a little more tricky coming forward in the next game.
Benny's afro. Just because.
Braided has the better statistical record. BAE got a little rest with Rose replacing him. Still think he looks a touch jaded compared to the standard he generally plays at.
Width. Work the flank. Even if it means Bale swapping sides and having Sandro covering and full backs holding back to protect when he’s rampant in forward positions. Pace will destroy Norwich. Patience and possession the probable fuel to make it happen in pockets of play.
Not just with the width, Bale was devastating through the middle. We've heard so much in the past about how Gareth has been worked out and his league form has never matched his CL form, but the kid is developing and progressing with freighting pace (literally). The right wing experiement which then led to swapping flanks with Lennon (in prior games) has now shifted from left to right to the middle. Bale coming at you from all angles...scary stuff. He's scoring more goals and is making the type of impact we know he's capable of. We'll see how other sides manage to cope with him when he's allowed to free roam.
That bloody stupid dance.
We got a dance with added shouty stuff and the traditional heart celebration for good measure. I refuse to complain based on the more important thing that happens moments before said celebration(s).
Match report here.