Groove is in the Hart
Tottenham 3 West Ham United 1
If the first half was a sexy woman wearing a raincoat and a paper bag over her head, the second half was the same woman minus the raincoat, in black lingerie teasing and flirting, leaving you with a wide smile splashed over your face at the conclusion. Okay, so I have a colourful and chequered past (which for the record doesn't include a paper bag fetish) involving lap dancing clubs. I'm also probably the only person comparing a game of football to a private dance. The fact is, there was happy ending. With the football. The football had a happy ending.
We can sit hear and discuss our opponents who struggled to impose themselves into the game. How their midfield did not offer the challenge and competitiveness that some expected. But who cares for their tactics and failed strategies. Tottenham turned up for the full ninety minutes and worked their way to an acceptable fluidity from defence to attack which saw us bag three goals (and concede one just to remind ourselves there's still work to do).
The shackles of expectancy and nervousness, removed and the team - as a unit - expressed themselves a little more than usual, not afraid to take the lead role of aggressor and seek out punishment for our visitors. A far cry from some of our less adventurous home performances this season.
Dawson selected to start over Gallas. A decision a fair few of us wanted with Andy Carroll lining up against us. Dembele on the bench, not quite ready to start. Huddlestone retaining his place with our own Carroll (Tom) watching on from the dug out. Perhaps a decision made on the much touted physicality of Big Sam's side (which they showed little of). Lloris in between the sticks again off the back of the one-man show in Rome.
Bale was inspired, our main outlet early on. Defoe, a live-wire, busy with chances without the chances being clear-cut. An early talking point was a tackle on Bale from O'Brien not too dissimilar to the one that saw Adebayor sent off at the Emirates. The WH player escaping with a yellow. Lucky for them. Late in the game, Defoe could have picked up a second yellow, so the ref equally lenient in his decision making.
The woodwork was struck (Bale) after a superb run, the ball smashing downwards and bouncing the wrong side of the goal line. This was a positive, attacking start to the game punctured with the odd wayward shot. But very little from the visitors in reply.
Then the game started to shift into the 20s then 30s and that annoying ominous whisper began to taunt me. The longer the game goes on the more chance WH might grow in confidence, claim more of the possession. And so they did, whilst we continued to look at Bale for the inspiration to create (a perfect illustration that when Dembele is fit enough, he has to start).
Then a moment of JD high-class quality changed things. A belting goal for the 1-0 just before half-time, leaving two defenders dazzled thanks to a tasty turn, more defenders, a run and swerving shot to finish. Like sweaty dynamite, you're not quite sure when he's going to explode, but when he does...BANG.
Half time thoughts? Solid team performance, plenty of desire to get forward but with a tempo that lack genuine aggression. This wasn't fast paced classic Spurs. But there was enough evidence that the side has quality regardless of the quality still missing. Still, a touch too one dimension with Bale being the go-to guy.
Second half and I prayed for an early goal to settle us and allow for more expression as a consequence. We started brightly. Again pushing forward, a few chances before that early(ish) goal came for the 2-0. Spurs finally making it comfortable at home? On the same day the fabled 'King of White Hart Lane' Alan Gilzean made a rare appearance at half-time, we looked to be stepping it up a gear. Finally, we got us some groove back.
Dempsey (best game in a Spurs shirt mainly for his second half form) lifted the ball over the Claret and Blue for a wonderful assist for Bale to take a touch and another to guide it in. Cracking stuff. I kept thinking 'I want to see us boss possession - our turf, our tempo', with my mind now clear of those taunting whispers. Nothing ominous about this. Spurs fully awake and wanting the points.
The third settled it. Sandro the magnificent winning the ball and Dempsey again involved, this time sending Lennon on his way for a one on one, deciding to lay it off for Defoe who bagged his brace. This was great in your face football. Really pressing them, pushing them onto the backfoot.
Andy Carroll scored a consolation (disappointed we failed with the clean sheet) with Caulker guilty of naivety. One or two other late chances from them, but no concerns we were about to blow a three goal lead.
From Green Street to easy street.
Demeble made another subbed appearance late on. Sandro was stretched off (official line was he was given oxygen but more likely Gamma Rays) and should be fine for Wednesday. He managed to puke before his exit. Standard stuff.
Lloris impressed again, commanding his area and attacking the ball, coming off his line to claim it with confidence. Dawson doing more than enough to cement his place at the back although Surarez a different prospect to Carroll when Liverpool visit on Wednesday. Dempsey finally looking sharp and effective and unlucky not to score, the woodwork in the way. The aforementioned Sandro, immense. Lennon busy. Even Walker looked a little more focused.
Very little to complain about. Aside from surrendering some possession in the latter stages, something of a trend with us, allowing them to have a dig at goal. Have to boss the last twenty minutes or so when winning at home. Control and dictate and slow down the pace. But like I said, can't complain too much. Tiredness to blame probably, with the Rome trip catching up with us. We had so much of the possession, this wasn't the usual invitation to the opposition to claw themselves back into it. This was a far more complete home performance from us.
Sure, like I said, this wasn't Tottenham at full pelt. But then if this is us with confidence and just a little more offensive expression than we usually indulge in at home, then imagine what we'll be like with a fully fit Dembele and an available Adebayor. Add to the mix Kaboul and Benny. And possibly a signing or two in January...and all the cries for patience are wise words that shouldn't be dismissed so openly. Villas-Boas could do with continuing his embrace of all things positive. White Hart Lane the fortress needs white hot lava to fill the moat that surrounds it. Best form of defence is attack.
Perhaps not as sexy as a lap dance after all, but good value overall. A team performance with some very easy on the eye moments and performances, which had West Ham running back to East London to get their shine box. Energy, invention and that willingness to get forward. All good.
Now for Liverpool.