Opposite of seethe
Enjoy the sensory overload. This is the Tottenham trademark; When you least expect it you get something special and then you remember that supporting Spurs is about never quite knowing what's going to happen next.
Manchester City have had their early season gloss peeled away by recent results and after the shambles of Wednesday night when we played a makeshift defence, rested players and were duly punished for it, attentions turned to Saturday. Redemption, a far cry, considering the overwhelming quality of the visitors, a side primed to exert their own cleansing after losing at home to West Ham the previous weekend.
I'm still seething over our cup exit. Coaches and players don't care much about the Capital Cup and this was perfectly illustrated by the rotation. The game isn't always about glory, it's about fixture list management. It's about protecting players for games that Mauricio Pochettino perceives as being more important for the long term.
There's an argument to be had in favour of this. We beat City 4-1. It creates an aura of renewed confidence and momentum. Winning a North London Derby rewards bragging rights, but in that instance, it's for something that isn't acknowledged as being truly influential, even if the supporters disagree. That was Wednesday. Saturday, isolated from the misdemeanour's of the derby game, was truly wondrous.
Six games unbeaten in the league, three wins on the trot, a solid defensive record, a side averaging an age of 24. City's heaviest defeat for an absolute age. Stats that matter.
Dier is great
We wanted a defensive midfielder in the summer. Eric Dier was stuck in centre midfield to do the job with questionable versatility. Now look at him. He's tenacious, tactically astute, fights for the team and possesses leadership qualities. His daisy-cutter equaliser was a pivotal moment in the game. Loved his post-match comments about grafting hard to prove the doubters wrong.
Kane is able
Finally the moody Harry Kane sticks a smile across his face and ours, scoring one of the three disputed 'offside' goals the game dished up (special thanks to Mark Clattenburg and supporting officials for the final scoreline and thoughts with Son Heung-min the only player to have scored an offside goal and have it disallowed), scooping the ball in from Christian Eriksen's thunderous free-kick off the woodwork. His performance deserved it. One down, thirty to go.
Pochettino knows best
I still don't agree the 4-1 forgives the 1-2, but he got it right against City. The line-up and tempo, the fortitude and intensity of application. We started off slow and raised our game to boss it by the end. Modern coaches preferring profound results over romanticism and rivalry.
La la la la Lamela
The best thing that happened to Erik Lamela is almost leaving the club on loan. We gave up hope. Yet now he appears to be physically and mentally compatible and competitive with ample effectiveness. He has end product. Another assist, a dipping cross for Toby Alderweireld to head in and his goal was the icing on the cake, dancing around the hapless Willy Caballero to slot home, after a brilliant piece of skill from Clinton N'Jie out wide to put him through.
Hugo Lloris is world class and when you have a player as good as him defending the net he can make a defining difference to how the game turns out, just by doing his job. His save from Sterling was (cliché klaxon) as good as scoring a goal down the other end. What I loved more was after the final whistle, exchanging smiles and bantz with Kane, he had the smug look of man that was saying to himself: "I'm fine wearing these colours". When the team as a whole stand up, wear hearts on sleeves and give it some, it validates Hugo in Lilywhite. His team-mates might not be anywhere near as consistent as he is (that's why he's world class) but on days like this, he doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.
So Kyle Walker made a mistake. Boo hoo. Defenders have a harder job than most. Make a mistake as a striker in front of goal and you'll likely to find yourself in a similar position later in the game to put it right. Err as a defender and you can be slapped down and punished, no place to hide. Walker has occasional positional dizziness but you either have to be blind or a misery monger to hate on his form. He did make a mistake and to do it against City it's likely to be one you wish to forget quickly. Walker made up for it by flashing past the official and his non-existent flag like Neo transitioning through the Matrix at impossible to track speed to cross for what eventually ended up being the equaliser (when the ball was cleared from Son's effort). I'm not comparing incidents or suggesting one cancels out the other. I'm just saying everything else he did in the game, and has been doing this season, far out weighs the odd mistake.
Why can't we play like this every week, right? Well not every team will turn up and try to attack us with sharp, concise passing shifting from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. Most will sit deep and our tactics will have to reshape and adapt around their stubbornness. This is the 'Plan B' quirk in Pochettino's philosophy that needs a design overhaul. In those types of games we need to improve how we push forward. There's too much holding on, a flurry of untidy jabs and our footwork needs more dance to allow space for an uppercut. It's a learning curve that doesn't become apparent until after games like this one (4-1) when you know that this team, our players, are more than capable of going toe to toe with the best. City came to exchange blows. Their defence let them down and we knocked them out.
Games in isolation are never the basis for concluding thoughts and future predictions. I'd rather see each one as a chapter in a thirty eight part book. The story arc starts off slow, introduces the main protagonists and then sets the pace to what will hopefully be a breathtaking ending with no shocking twists.
When we bemoan a mundane pedestrian performance and see the very worst, we are duly obliged to do the opposite when the result is fantastical. What you should hold onto, what I hold onto, is the fact that the good (really good) games are testament to the standard we can reach.
I also love the fact our squad is rich with players that I actually like and believe in. I said it weeks ago that they embody the traits that allow us to bind an emotional connection with the team. We have players that have spirit and that gives me hope. Hope kills but you're dead without it.