If only we matched Everton’s ambition during the transfer window. I’m guessing all the agendas and poorly scripted hate campaigns have (for the third season running) disintegrated into the ether as Mauricio Pochettino’s side once again purr into form in time for a pivotal encounter next weekend against Manchester United. He’s got us believing once more.
A record attendance (80,827) at Wembley witnessed Spurs finally embracing the place, with the visitors dismantled, boxed up and returned to Merseyside battered and bruised. It felt like home. At least as close as a place that blatantly isn’t could be.
It was sensational. Scintillating. Spursy redefined to its classical origins; swaggering and brilliantly canny.
4th minute. Lacklustre defensive misdemeanours from Jürgen Klopp’s men saw us embarrass them from a throw-in. Harry Kane with punishing determination to stay on his feet and finish. 1-0.
12th minute. An absolutely textbook counter slap, with Hugo Lloris distributing the ball quickly, Dejan Lovren allowing it to fly over his head whilst Kane ran onto it and produced a sublime cross for the pulsating Son to deftly hit first time. 2-0. He could have scored again soon after, smacking his shot onto the cross-bar.
24th minute. A momentary lapse. Kane alone and surrounded in the middle, tries to get away but is dispossessed. There’s no other white shirt in the vicinity to lend a helping hand. Liverpool shifted forward quickly, finding Salah who beat a stationary Lloris. 2-1.
45th + 3 minute. The goal that won it, that killed the game. A free-kick floated in, defended with lame power and Dele Alli aware to attack where gravity pulled the ball towards. 3-1.
56th minute. A Kieran Trippier free kick, their maligned keeper not getting enough of it, Jan Vertonghen controlling and striking. Blocked. Harry again in the right place to shape himself to slot it home. Celebrations. Aside from Jan who looked devastated not to score (lol, one of the moments of the game). 4-1.
Worth also noting that Lloris made some decent saves including an utterly magnificent one from Coutinho, changing his leading hand mid-air to pluck the ball away from being a certain goal.
Liverpool had 64% possession which isn’t something we’re accustomed to, yet this felt like another masterclass in preparation from Poch to add to the Madrid away day and the (perhaps) reactive brilliance of the Dortmund match.
Wembley is alive. ALIVE.
Allow me to do that squad dance I enjoy repeating after every game. No Dembele, Wanyama, Dier (unwell, but was subbed on), Davies, Rose and Lamela. Squad depth is something we often dismiss with blind panic during the transfer windows, always ignoring the seemingly obvious that players we already have will mature into roles and responsibilities with composed comfort. This new brave variant of synergy means there’s no such thing as our best eleven. Any side selected is giving us a glimpse into robust and resilient longevity.
Allow me to wax lyrical some more.
Winks. Eriksen. Dele. My type of threesome, an orgy of satisfying positions and tantric penetration. Grafting in amongst it, nutmegs and all. Industrious and effective, allowing us to take the buzz out of the opposition and then sting them when pushing forward.
Christian was intelligent without the fashionable easy on the eye dribbles that his counterpart was constantly attempting. Covered the field with relentless energy. Not the type of game where he dictated with obvious pomp thanks to the measure it took to fight for the ball and glide away from the congestion.
Dele, produced a deep solid shift. Lively with the tackles and filthy with those aforementioned nutmegs. He destroyed Emre Can. Was involved, visionary with balls into the final third and also running onto them for that injection of paced release. He was given a responsibility in the battleground of central midfield which meant there was no time for luxury. Those that often remark he does little in-game had their brains melted with this all-action performance where he did practically everything. Is he better placed in the middle than pushed further up in a traditional number 10 role?
That third goal. He got away from Can having dispossessed him, winning the subsequent free kick when cynically fouled. Then scored. He also did a wonderful job of suffocating the space centrally to limit Coutinho’s influence.
This all-encompassing versatility is immense - from one player to the next.
Harry smooth as silk Winks. He might be giant. So good you don’t even notice his fluid quality, synchronised perfectly to our tempo and shape. The soundbite that fits is the one about Poch instilling the belief into these young players that they are men and not kids. It’s a half truth. You still need talent to succeed. However, in this modern age it’s easy to waste such talent thanks to the demands of imported ready-made excellence. Viva Poch and Winks. The perfect fusion of what is so grand about this club.
Let’s be honest, everyone was impressive.
Jan and Trip worked their b*llocks off. Leaders in defence alongside Toby and Davison. The Kane footage of him running 95 yards to make up for losing the ball in their penalty area to then make sure there was no damage done in our own was testament to his attitude and the teams ethic.
Poch gave us maturity with patient, counter attacking football. Smacking up Liverpool who had plenty of the ball but little potency. This was our first win in 10 games against them, going back to November 2012. We owed them. Their defending was poor right? I don’t care. Spurs were savage and that’s all that mattered.
The momentum created by the past two games is so important with Old Trafford and Jose’s bore-tactics on the horizon. Next weekend is massive (I almost don’t care about Wednesday). Poch and his plans against the ‘big’ clubs are more finely tuned than in previous seasons. Shrewd set-ups, differing on each occasion to suit the opposing team, not just in selection but also strategically. Serge Aurier was brought in to combat Salah. Son’s injection of pace provided that ilk of damage that we’ve often seen dished out to us in the past (by Mane).
No Plan B? We’ve skipped it and gone straight to C, D and E. All of which can only be described as A grade. More tests on the way. One or two wins are encouraging. Victories against more of our rivals at the top will define just how close we go this season. As Poch has stated in his post-match comments, “It’s the third season that we are trying to catch someone”. Odds are stacked against us again. I’m absolutely hyped for it. Again.
Whilst Diego Maradona and Kobe Bryant watched on from the stands as Spurs demolished a club with a wage bill twice the size of our own, I’m sat here contemplating that chase and how imperative it is for us to experience a new challenge. One where we sit top and defend the position. With City playing the way they are, those odds keep on stacking. And I love it. COYS.