Bizarre & Fierce Creatures: As seen through the eyes of imagination
Stoke 0 Spurs 4
A kraken performance from the mighty Tottenham with our first away win since the last time we played Stoke at the Britannia. We won that one 0-4 too. We all thought we'd go on to win the league. Deserved to. Didn't. Here we are, back down to earth and finally making a splash. Spurs have awoken. Not fully, just stretching. It wasn't in any way a full pelt swaggering destruction like our last visit. But when required, we sank the hearts of City and watched them drown in despair.
It was controlled and measured and when necessary the spikes of quality left the hosts with nowhere to swim, other than the oblivion of the abyss we offered. We picked them off with comparative ease because we knew we could. The threat was lopsided. Their fate, akin to time, devoured by our hunger. Like a sea monster silent beneath a ship, knowing it will only take three or four lashes with its giant tentacles to smash and destroy what floats above.
The captain barking maddening orders to his scared crewmen, all losing their minds in anticipation of inevitable death. The ship sank and the monster, not even having to try hard to clear the ocean of an eyesore, dropped deep into the depths to await the next victim that dares to sail past.
Mauricio Pochettino's team is looking to regain its bullish brilliant tempo from our last campaign, one game at a time. What we got was a far more convincing performance where it mattered most - in front of goal. We did so without having to labour with the usual torment of alleged tiredness and loss of form from key players. Even if it took forty minutes to notch the first. Once we did, there was never any doubt. Cue pockets of flashbacks to more confident displays.
I don't care how poor Stoke are (they're definitely a more welcoming invitation than their original fighty ugly incarnation). We did professionalism with pomp and dismantled them without chaotic gear changes and any ominous moments that bite away at the nerves.
There were, however, a couple of those ominous moments. Dele Alli guilty of not doing what we expect him (and one or two others) to be doing. Their form - when placed in a juxtopoistion with hedonistic times, is a bizarre contrast to what we expect but exaggerated only because of how good our players were before last seasons tail-off. Alli, in the first half, unbelievably scuffed his shot well wide. Spurs have arguably been wide of the mark thus far this season.
It's unfair to make too much of any of our early games but in this modern age of microscopic analysis, everyone loves to see someone suffer because suffering is more newsworthy in this blighted world of click-bait and disparagement. The great escape clause with these players is...wait for it, here it comes...last seasons most over-used word (more so than Synergy)...Belief. They believe. In abundance. They're made of sterner stuff and just keep on plugging away. They don't even make a big deal out of it. The first half wasn't to be in terms of completionist ambitions with turning possession into goals. We still managed to steal the breakthrough.
0 - 1
On the counter, Alli with a direct run through the middle finding Eriksen out wide who cut in sweetly (leaving a defender dizzy) then pinged the ball towards Son who slotted home without the necessity of a second touch. A quintessential N17 slap in yo face.
Cue the second half.
0 - 2
Eriksen again involved, cheeky lob over the bamboozled Shawcross, laying it on for Son once more, who scored his second. Talk about box fresh. The finish was sex and Son is doing what he did for us in the spell before the injury last term. Scoring. We need players to chip in consistently from the midfield, so as far as confidence boosters go, this was nigh perfection.
0 - 3
Eriksen from deep, releasing Lamela and so begins yet another counter. Walker runs ahead of Erik and receives the ball. Cue a standard cut-back cross because 'you know who' is running through the middle like he loves to do and WALLOP. The boy Dele making amends for his earlier embarrassment, finishing off a fiercely simplistic passage of play with a nutmegged goal. Another textbook Tottenham trait.
0 - 4
Tap-in. After all the pressure and obsessing over yet another quiet start to the season, Kane begins his demolition of 'third season syndrome' in earnest. Pretty sure he's opened his account a little early this season, the greedy sod. The initial cross from Eriksen flashed past Kane who failed to get a touch. When it came back in from the other side, he only had to shuffle his body to side foot the ball in.
It's usually the best way to get reacquainted with a lover. A peck on the the cheek, no need to try and ram your tongue down her throat. That will come later. 567 minutes without a Premier League goal. Such an overly dramatic stat. Six games. Goal drought? More like a routine pre-season lay-off as he catches his breath for another epic run. 50 Prem goals for the lion-heart.
Stoke, all at sea. Tireless Tottenham 20,000 leagues ahead. The French vessel on the horizon will be far better equipped with their harpoons.
Hugo Lloris with hardly a thing to do between the sticks. Poch able to rest international playboy Erik Lamela (subbed on). Ben Davies deputising with ample authority for the missing Danny Rose. Vincent Janseen replaced Kane and Moussa Sissoko made his debut from the bench late on.
Tottenham with a far more robust looking first team line-up and bench (although not sure about the reasons beind Wimmers continued absence). A special mention to Eriksen (involved in all four goals). He was looking more tenacious than he has with the physicality. In terms of forward progression he wasn't so much a ninja against Stoke, with the subtle and stealth. More samurai, running into battle, swords cutting up all that stood in his way.
There was also no default head scratch wishing the imminent return of Mousa Dembele happened weeks back. Although he'll bring a far more dynamic push from midfield when available, this was the first game this season where Spurs stood up in all areas of the pitch and collectively delivered.
The build up that birthed a title push witnessed so much richness but ultimately no treasure in the chest when the journey ended. We had no viable plan 'b'. Being completely reliant on everyone to hit form the same way we did last season is a dangerous game, which is why we need to persist with this seasons refresh and offer new solutions to old problems and have pound for pound cover. The added depth has to offer it. Synergy, a word I have no problem repeating until I foam at the mouth. More means expert rotation and lessens the chance of burn-out, especially come May.
There are so many (potential) variations centrally. Who lines-up in the axis? Double (DM's) holding or one sitting back and the other pressing into the final third? Dier, Wanyama, Dembele - three for the two positions. Sissoko can also play in the middle or right or could possibly be tested as a box to box alternative to Christian. Eriksen can sit deep or support the spearhead. He's always better when starting as the nucleus and not having to dink in from the channels. He has no issue with pulling the ball wide if need be (as he showcased with the assist).
And so on. Options. Lots of them. We are still readjusting, patiently waiting on individuals to reclaim their mojo to the max. One game at a time. The result, the performance. The players and the fans. We needed this. The evidence that Spurs can be clinical, ruthless - a worthy reintroduction to what exists within. I would still say we're slow brooding towards a full awakening with eyes wide open.
When you look over to Manchester City and the early benchmark set, it's obvious we're heading into a perfect storm. It will take a few more games to perhaps see what ilk of momentum we can generate this season in comparison to the last. I want a war. I want to feel like every game is a must win and every game is the last one we'll ever play. I love the pressure of the chase, the desire to want to achieve something that usually basks in the brightest day dreams of our imagination. I want to see tentacles smashing armadas and merchant ships, striking fear into all that look upon our demonic majesty.