Qarabag 0 Tottenham 1
Qualification with a game to spare. I'll take that. We got the job done with minimal fuss, professionally executed with very little exertion. If Poch and his players had a plan of action pre-match it was probably with Chelsea on Sunday in mind. Go out, retain shape and control and contain the tempo of the game. The hosts didn't make the first half easy and it wasn't until the second forty-five that we settled into a rhythm, making a late breakthrough thanks to Harry Kane and his ninth in six games. It was pretty much perfect without the necessity of being spectacular.
This game could have been tricky, but there was no sloppy fragility on display (like the Anderlecht game). Tottenham performed with discipline rather than desperation, hence the comfort as a viewer and as any given player in Lilywhite. Will the travel impact us for the weekend? I'm not sure it will even if Poch was laughing at our fixture list a couple of days back.
Spurs have this hunger about them that hasn't always been evident with consistency down the years. I'm not worried about fitness levels. I also believe that because it's Chelsea, because of the expectancy and what a win could potentially do to further elevate us - we won't lose focus. The game is also hugely dependent on what version of Jose Mourinho's side turn up. If the game is tight and there's no breakthrough from either team late into the game then energy levels could dip and mistakes could be duly punished. It's guess work until the game kicks off. Could anyone have possibly predicted the 5-3 last time out at the Lane?
All this hype about our momentum and our progress should be making me a little tentative, but I don't care. It's not arrogance or cockiness. I'm just relaxed and content and willing the team to continue to push beyond the traditional boundaries that have so often held us back. The best description I've seen is Spurs being citied as authentic. I said something similar recently, that this team is Pochettino's - down to the players and style, training and tactics. All that is good including all the quirks that need to be ironed out. Any bumps in the road will not hark back to the past even if they appear similar on paper. You might consider this logic as a defensive mechanism to protect ego if we come unstuck, but the true test for this team exists both in beating Chelsea or losing to them.
I'm absolutely on fire waiting for Sunday.
As for the Kane rumours about his contract and Chelsea and Manchester United's interest - are you surprised? Whether it's completely made up by 'journalists' that only consider click-baiting in the build up to an important game or just the usual passive aggressive bullying that seeks to appease the 'big clubs' and the status quo that they have a God given right to always look down on the rest - it doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if there is genuine interest. This is Pochettino's team and if Daniel Levy wants to see out the potentially draining financial years between now and when the stadium gets built, he'll do good to let Poch and his staff get on with developing this side organically and without puncturing the wheels of a car that is poised to change gear and race forward.
The spirit at Tottenham, the togetherness, it's the real thing. Pablo Escobar would get high just watching us. I can't see many (aside from fringe players) wanting to escape. Any forced transfers of key players will be hugely detrimental. Even with the love for money our chairman possesses, it makes no business sense - on or off the field - to cash in only to then seek replacements that wont be good enough. If Kane left the club in the summer, I'd walk away with him.