THFC 5 Swans 0
A few hours before kick-off I cracked a joke stating 'gonna watch Spurs stick five past Swansea later'. Said in jest but drenched in belief. It felt right to flirt with a little arrogance. I had one of those warm and vibrant pre-match feelings about the game. To be honest, I've been having them for a while so I was bound to strike lucky at some point. It's that cliched hope that 'today' will be the day that everything clicks and we produce a morale boosting tonking dished out to a pitiful opponent that accepts our punishment without a fight. Step forward the Welsh club. We gave everything, they gave nothing.
I'm not going to read too much into it. I'm going to read just about enough to cover off the important gains from this super comfortable win. After-all, the next league game is now the only one that matters in our quest to consolidate momentum.
- We won at a canter, the visitors probably totalled 30 seconds of minor concerns in the final third - this was akin to a punchbag session in a gym
- Our tempo was relentless - players buzzing around, creating space with energetic bursts, movement on point with a constant hunger to push forward and make things happen
- Took a while to score the first goal (arguably fortuitous) but the lack of panic and the ooze of composure was always evident whilst we waited for the moment
- It was a healthy day for our + goal difference, another clean sheet (still with the best defensive record in the league)
- To own so much of the ball and create so many chances, it's important not just for confidence but also familiarity - Spurs rediscovering end product and not making hard work of it.
That last one is vital. This was hardly the pedestrian lull of prior games. We dismantled them in a manner befitting a top tier side compared to one festering in the depths. I'm reminded of a YouTube video recorded on a smartphone. A group of youths about to happy slap an unsuspecting jogger, only for them all to be destroyed by his mixed martial arts skills.
We looked decent at Stamford Bridge the other week but Chelsea are in fine form and we're still nowhere near our best. To play with zest again, at home, was just about as perfect a Saturday afternoon as you can get. That's perfect in terms of the result and the focus deployed in gaining it. Thrashing a side that doesn't deserve to go toe to toe with you with minimum fuss is the professionalism we have come to expect. All this and still sat at around the 60% of capacity mark. Thanks for the pick-me-up Spurs.
Harry Kane bagged another brace. His second was a thoroughly enjoyable conclusion to a sparky breakaway move from one end of the pitch to the other. Son, on his left, leaving it for Kane to sweep in with assured power. Lovely bit of quick thinking from both players, at full pelt, slowing it down to finish it off. Son himself scored the goal of the game with a wonderfully instinctive scissor-volley. Christian Eriksen grabbed two for himself. The first was hardly scored with conviction as the ball came off him apologetically close to the goal. The Dane more keen to avoid a boot in his face than brave the risk of a bruise. His post-game self-deprecation of it, an enjoyable epilogue. His second was thanks to a great little run from Mousa Sissoko. He waited and played through Eriksen for the finish. Mousa down the middle will be in my prayers for many a week going forward (because going forward down the right wing remains a backwards step).
Talking of boots in the face, Kyle Walker could have lost an eye after a ridiculous clumsy kung-fu tackle that wasn't worthy of a card according to the man that is meant to dish them out. Dele Alli (and his 'win' for the penalty) will once more be maligned for diving. I can imagine it being given outside the box so I had no problem with the official pointing to the spot. He got this one right, IMO. Dele is slowly and surely finding his way back to that tenacious and always eager to irritate-opposing-defenders type of player. I loved how aggressive he was positionally, pushing further than Kane at times.
We often bemoan the one striker up top but when you have someone as mobile as him, it gives us another dimension. You don't quite know (as the opposition) what he might do next which means we have the element of surprise and a touch of the unpredictable. Yet his team-mates know exactly what to expect, everyone is constantly complementing each other when transitioning from midfield to attack. We've often been too sterile up top so it's great to have more personality there. Kane also looking comfortable again with his spearheading duties. Time heals everything as long as your clock doesn't stop ticking. Once the timing is set there's no need for alarms.
We've struggled for fluidity and performances like this (even if it isn't spectacular because Swansea were dreadful) goes some way to proving how important it is for key players to be swarming around the pitch and leading by example. It forces everyone to be on the same level. It's been the main complaint this season. We've not been a singularity but instead have appeared as fragments that don't quite fit together. When teams sit deep and do nothing but defend - moving with pace, with and without the ball, will stretch them and open up the game for our attacking endeavours. Spurs looked drilled, all working parts in motion.
Every game is a test now as we edge closer to the twenty game mark with plenty of congestion during the festive period to fight through first. 'Every game is a test' - another cheesy soundbite, right? It's true though. Last season, we all realised Spurs were turning into a heavyweight contender off the back of all the spirit and guile. The never say die attitude. The belief the supporters had was thanks to the belief we witnessed from the players. The togetherness means nothing if you're not winning games. We won games. A lot of games. We hardly ever got outplayed and we always bounced back from a rare setback. God damn, we got cited as being the best footballing team - the most complete side - in England. It was no fluke of circumstance and it's stupidity to dismiss it has no relevance on our present evolution (wobbles and all).
Every blog has this caveat in it because it remains the anchor during stormy weather. For me, football is a state of mind, a philosophy tinged with spiritually. The practicalities of formations, tactics, training and man-management...that's for the manager and coaches at Spurs to deal with - the only experts that matter. You can be technically astute in perpetration and even in application but still lack the soul and natural born swagger to make it all work. The better the players, the easy it is for sure. It's still not enough. There's more to it than elite athletes, PowerPoint slides and overly complex chalkboard scribbles. That fusion of all the right elements coming together is a rarity. Especially for us. I have so much time and respect for what Mauricio Pochettino has done. From eradicating the culture of comfort to the transformation of the likes of Danny Rose. It transcends physicality because without mind the body can be an absolute mess (although Lamela remains a paradox).
Poch is disciplined and strict and instruction-giving but compare him to the other scientific disciple we had (AVB) and then compare how transparent and empty his football was in comparison. Whilst on the other end of the scale we had Redknapp and his free-form expression that lacked that mettle and longevity to evolve into something more. Of course, that risk and the hype the momentum can bring is sometimes enough to puncture a massive hole in the establishment. Once is more than enough when once has never happened before, in the modern era. That particular glory belonged to someone else last season.
Spurs now need to push on from just threatening and actually do some lasting damage.
I'll sit here and dream and desire and get high inhaling the fumes of another on-fire Spurs display (I'm still gonna need a bigger hit to breakthrough).
The benchmark remains; We need to find ourselves back in that stride where we know we are on top of our game and playing with shock and awe. With force. Only then do you apply pressure on rivals and pressure on yourself, to improve and contend. Only then do you accept you can truly challenge. Nobody has done that thus far. You can dispute Chelsea are currently but we're hardly worlds apart from them. In fact, considering this prolonged erratic lull, we are still better off now than this time last season (if you care for superfluous comparisons*).
*Obv, last season Chelsea and others were nowhere near being involved, hence why said comparison is superfluous.
TL:DR - We need to go on a run.
Next week it's Manchester United so our application will be a lot more deliberate and perhaps not as easily expressive as Saturdays walk in the park. It's all good though. Chelsea are the current pace-setters, however the rest of our 'rivals' sitting above us all seem to suffer from varying degrees of insecurity and doubt. It means that this season is about as open as the last one, except this time with the potential of more than two teams lasting it out. It's obviously dependent on whether sides like Arsenal avoid bottling it once more and if we can perhaps shift into a position where we are ahead rather than having to chase and waiting for someone else to slip up.
One of the truths that perhaps we are all guilty of entertaining is that we could have won the league when in reality we had to rely on Leicester to lose it. Giving away that amount of power was always going to be tough to overcome. The only team to push them in the end was us. For all the trolling aimed at Tottenham over it, it's super ironic that those that bricked it were the teams that faced Claudio's side rather than anything we did wrong. Incredible what fear does to other clubs and their fanbases. I want us to revisit their fear again. 'Can't have Spurs winning the league' gives me epic throbbing between the legs.
Once Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela return to the first eleven, the familiarity we seek with individuals will start to reshape permanently back to how we wish to present ourselves as a unit.
The time between now and the New Year will also go someway to understanding if this flux we're experiencing will be one that lasts the entirety of the season or a blip that has simply given those above a slender lead to hold onto.