Waiting for the bubble to burst
Before Sunday's game I had this concern tucked away in the back of my head which was gradually transforming from an inaudible whisper to a disconcerting voice. I struggled to block it out. Something about Bournemouth being a hard grafting team, loving their kilometres run per game stats. I was thinking too much about the potential of a Thursday night hangover and the clichéd excuse of lethargic legs. Add to it the existing ongoing glitch where we go one nil down after owning possession for long periods of time. You can see how the concern can grow with malignancy.
Oh ye of little faith.
If there was a perfect way to start the game, this was it - a lead within 40 or so seconds. One season wonder Harry Kane continues to pull space and time apart like Dr Manhattan playfully splitting atoms. He's here, there and everywhere. This occasion making sure his studs played a part in Kyle Walkers fizzed ball towards goal for the 1-0. 15 minutes later and it's two. Kane again, running between defenders onto a visionary pass from Dele Alli to slot home. Alli himself had an effort disallowed. In the second half Kane's shot wasn't held and Christian Eriksen tapped it in for a third. Easy like Sunday morning, all in the afternoon.
More on Harry, the complete forward; He can do a bit of everything. Drops deep, defends, pushes out wide, works to create something out of nothing, works to create the space for someone else to play a telling ball, links up play etc etc. This is the kid that was in the midst of a drought early season and is now sitting pretty at the top of the goal scoring charts. He'll need a stasis tank come the end of the Euros. He's due a rest having played non-stop since last years summer tournament. No excuses for our next dip into the transfer market for that elusive second striker.
Back to the game...
Three nothing in the end. There was no need for Spurs to excel in any department. We played with enough professionalism (no hangover or complacency) and a good mix of pace and tempo that left Eddie Howe's side demoralised from the opening minute. They simply didn't have enough about them to influence the game in any way. We danced like a boxer toying with his opponent, picking the moments to land the big punches.
I enjoyed Mousa Dembele's ease of midfield marshalling. Kyle Walker impressed, bombing it down the flank. Perhaps a little more composure in front of goal and we might have scored more. Maybe it was my view from the corner of block 31 but I found little to complain about. Aside from the shambloic on field mannerisms of one individual. Chirpy remains an absolute disgrace, over-weight and from the looks of that permanent smile on his face, over-prescribed.
I turned up at the Lane thinking I was going to watch a football match and witnessed an open training session.
Hello? Is this thing on?
No disrespect meant for the visiting side and their fans but this was a showcase of simplicity. That's not to remove the shine from our resilience and determination to keep on going. We hear a lot about how 'Spurs of old' would have choked, slipped up. We hardly ever see examples of this. The teams self-awareness is majestic (in victory or defeat or preparation for the next game).
Interestingly, the other day I wrote about us having to improve our WHL form. Apparently we've only lost two home games in the last seventeen (don't quote me but I'm sure the actual stat is equally impressive). Imagine that. Improving our home form any further would probably have us sat top. What a time to be alive.
Tottenham are undoubtedly the most complete Premier League package. A side that remains untouched in about half a dozen ways. Scored more goals, conceded less goals, dominant against most sides in terms of possession/chances created and so on. We've banged the drum aplenty about not being outclassed in the league and this consistency is...well, for us fans, a minor miracle of enthralling consumption. Yet if you wish to add to it the style and identifiable class and quality of so much of our football - Leicester City still remain five points ahead of us and we're still waiting for them to wobble, even momentarily.
It might not happen. Their wobble. We can't take the risk. We've got to be in a position to take advantage if they do. Don't try to wrap your head around how they've managed to do it. Their football isn't always the most pleasant to watch, but it's direct and it's effective. The glue that has allowed them to stick to the top of the league is because this season is one of extreme peculiarity.
It's possibly one of the most apologetic title races of recent times. No one is placing anyone else under any sort of direct pressure. Not in a hateful way. No war cries or fighting tooth and nail to get ahead of each other. No managerial spates, kidology and mind games. Even the media have been limp with their attempt to manipulate the narrative. It's all rather pleasant. It's all about whether LC can hold their form. Whether Spurs can match them and wait to jump ahead. Or if Arsenal can pull together one of their famous (sickening) runs.
There isn't an epic struggle between any two given clubs. We're still involved and yet it's not quite nerve shredding. I'm sure it would be if we lost a game and had to win the next one. I'm sure it would destroy my senses if Spurs were suddenly level on points. For now, it's out of our control. One game at a time. This title push is all about ones own self-discovery.
Then again, maybe it's just my perspective. Most title challenges tend to live or die based around moments where bravery and stone cold ruthlessness are requirements. If you don't have those traits you don't end up a winner.
This is a title push but it doesn't feel like we ever set out to be involved in one. We simply worked towards improving and retaining focus. We're consistent. That consistency has breed momentum that has led to the only palpitations a man or woman would be accepting of. Palpitations tinged with the potential for glory. The players appear to be immune to the stress. For now. But in a couple of games time? I think that's when the penny drops and the realisation switches from surreal to reality. Then we find out which club has winners traits in abundance.
With City surrendering all hope and Arsenal perpetually bipolar - ourselves and Leicester remain the most likely based on everything that's happened so far. It can still all change.
It's the same discussion every week. Are we still in it? Half full, half empty, we are, we're not. I remember at the start of the season blogging about how the opening 10 games were akin to a pre-season for us. Don't try to take select key results from early in the fixture list and define them as the ones where we 'lost' the points that ultimately cost us. It's not healthy or logical and any club can do the same with distorted mathematics. The games ahead are the ones that are truly defining.
No one could have predicted any of this. Apologetic or not, what a glorious glorious opportunity it is for one of a select few to crown themselves champions.
7 games left. 21 points.
Okay. Now I'm bricking myself again. I don't want anything other than top spot.