Swans 1 Cockerels 3
A lovely stress-free Sunday afternoon watching Tottenham. Yes, you read that correctly. Stress-free. Bar the opening twenty or so minutes, once we got a hold of the ball Swansea were punished and Spurs flourished. The extra man in midfield didn't initially help us out with the hosts owning the ball early on, Wilfried Bony the tormentor whilst Spurs found their feet. Jonjo Shelvey also lively but subbed thanks to injury early in the second forty-five.
Tim 'doesn't need coaching badges' Sherwood proving there's more than a straight-laced 442 formation in his repertoire of tactics, adjusting the team with a single forward with more bodies in the middle but still no out-right defensive midfielder. Just Nabil Bentaleb, the youngster who seems to have a magnetic relationship with the football, in possession and with distribution. He's impressed with his forward play in previous game but against the Swans was equally industrious defensively. Just is more than enough. But he shouldn't be expected to do too much.
He's mature beyond his age, much like the Tom Carroll cameos, but physically Nabil fits into the side better. He's more robust and has began to adapt to the pace and tempo of life in the Premier League. Early days, feet on ground - but this is the first time in a long time a Spurs youngster (not 100% academy breed) has broken into the first team and doesn't look out of place. That's not to say it's all perfect. Because of the lack of a DM under Sherwood so far, some expect the kid to clean up centrally when it's quite obvious his talent is recycling the possession and getting himself and his team mates forward. Might be a long term option for us, deep-lying, alongside someone like Sandro. Although once the Brazilian is back along with his countryman Paulinho we have an abundance of players to choose from - one holding, the other box to box or playmaking. A future headache for Tim. There's depth but how do you keep so many players content?
Roberto Soldado was dropped as part of the 4-5 ish -1 lineup and there was no Sandro (returning soon, with Andros Townsend and hopefully Jan Vertonghen) however Etienne Capoue was on the bench again. Nacer Chadli with the start (struggled to find rhythm early on, but improved in the second half). The supposedly want-away Lewis Holtby thanked the Spurs away fans post-match for their vocal support stating he 'can't wait to be back on the pitch'. Spurs fans in fine voice also paying their respects to Roger Lloyd Pack aka Trigger...'One broom, he only had one broom'.
So yes, ok, Michael Laudrups' team are down in the dumps, out of form but that shouldn't take the shine off a confident away day for Sherwoods' free to express themselves footballers.
Emmanuel Adebayor beastly once more leading the front-line. Christian Erkisen, starting on the left but playing central (remember, formations don't matter under Tim, it's about the shape and its fluidity when in play) was excellent, visionary and creative. Vlad Chiriches calm and composed at the back although isn't best suited to play alongside Michael Dawson. Hugo Lloris, when called upon, sharp and decisive with the sweeping and strong with the shot stopping.
Hate to think what would happen if Adebayor got injured. Negative thoughts pushed aside, Sherwood is intelligently gathering some league momentum by retaining consistent selection with players - with Ade key to that. The better they play, the better we click. The football then starts to shift into more recognisable territory. Pace driven passing, quick tempo, effective counter-attacks. Forgotten is the rigid transitional play whilst we look towards more of the traditional swashbuckle.
I could wax lyrical all day about Eriksen and how pivotal he will be for Spurs. Loved that burst of pace through three Swansea players. Loved his turn on the edge of the box to go past the defender, shame his left-footed shot was weak. He's only 21 years old. He was always going to take time to settle but you can only settle if you play in your strongest position and do so every game. Tired of the same old line about his inconsistency at Ajax. He's our player now and it's our responsibility to develop him.
Sherwood proving that Andre Villas-Boas downfall was his stubbornness not to adapt to the abilities of the players available rather than stick to his ethos of style that didn't suit us. Still, kudos to the former gaffer for our solidity away from home. That continues but arguably, it's a lot more fun watching us play under Tim. It's undeniable to be fair. Five successive away wins now, best run of form since the 60s.
The cross from Eriksen to Adebayor for the 1-0 was drenched in sexual quality. From the gentle here you go son pass from Lennon to Christian beautifully striking it first time into the box and onto Adebayor's head. A minute later Chadli should have made it two.
Ade scored his second late on with an own goal sandwiched in-between just after half-time. His brace came from a superb counter, sub Gylfi Sigurdsson starting the attack after Spurs won the ball back, finding Eriksen who stroked the ball on to the marauding Danny Rose. He squared it to our in-form striker who had more space than the milky way, finishing with ease. Minutes earlier, Mousa Dembele selfishly fired a shot wide when it was easier to lay it to Ade who was just a tad disappointed not to receive the ball. Didn't matter. 3-0.
The sandwiched own-goal arrived via the boots of Michael Dawson with the assist for the assist, sending Kyle Walker free on the right to cross and see his ball knocked in by Chico. How could he not finish off the move? Would be rude to besmirch the patient build up play. Although I do love watching this goal on replay. Walker looks up, sees Adebayor but then crosses the ball straight into the Swansea defenders in the six yard box. Ade almost looks disappointed he didn't get the cut back. Very funny. Walker not at his finest with his deliveries but we can hardly complain.
Grateful for the luck and also equally grateful for the lack of support Bony had up front. He was Swansea's best player, struck the woodwork with a peach of a shot and tested Lloris but Spurs far more precise as a collective. Bony and co never really recovering after Spurs scored from their first attempt on goal.
Obviously, wouldn't be Tottenham if we didn't concede one thanks to silly defending. No you have the ball, no please, take the ball, here you go, take it, oh look at that, you've gone and scored. Didn't matter, 3-1, three points, 16 points from 18. The first half Michael Dawson penalty push ignored by the referee. Bit of luck, won't say no to that.
Manchester City next. Sherwoods' astuteness to be tested again. Isn't it tested every week? Sure, the fixture list has been comparatively easy with hindsight, but Tottenham's endeavour for adventure winning us points with far more comfort. Players also far more comfortable with their less constrained responsibilities. The most important element is the end product. Spurs clinical these days meaning our goal difference is recovering.
There's a suggestion from some Tim is playing a safe game, not attempting too much in the way of tinkering. Considering his lack of Premier League experience, this measured approach is the safest bet. For him on a personal level in terms of impressing and for us because the points are important. Ironically they were not so important before when we accumulated them with slow paced football. Supporters wanting more. We're getting more, yet some are not wishing to show the same level of patience AVB was given. I always back the manager, even if the manager has everything to prove. I prefer taking the risk. However I'm playing this one game at a time and will allow common sense to prevail. You know, hope we continue to side step square pegs in round holes. Not over complicate matters.
Louis van Gaal told the world he spoke with Spurs. Hinted he would retired after the World Cup if he doesn't get a Premier League offer, as this is something he fancies. Sherwood citied the important of a top four finish. I can't shake off the feeling that Spurs are going to knee-jerk again no matter what. If we get top four then for the sake of that near mythical continuity, keep the man in the job. Levy will probably not see it that way and prefer to bring in a 'name', someone who can attract the big name players (well the slightly smaller than big names because the big names only sign for City/Chelsea these-days). The cycle will start over. Hence the detachments from worrying about it and that one game at a time ethos.
Our record against top sides is not great this season. Against City, we'll need to bulk up further centrally, but this being football expect the unexpected. Remember last seasons game at the Lane?
Sherwood has managed momentum with simple back to basics selection. Spurs are well on course to reclaiming their identity and I'm reclaiming my buzz.