Newcastle 0 Tottenham 2
It feels good to be back. Pre-season, a glorified PR tour that helps the brand and rewards supporters in far away lands serves its purpose but is ultimately a mental nuisance whilst we all ready ourselves for the real thing. All the panic and delusions of the lack of transfer activity, the departure of Kyle Walker and the engineering of a future escape from Danny Rose all disappear into the ether once Tottenham are kicking a ball in the Premier League. It's like football was never away.
Obviously, the opening game was never going to be a sexy orgy of footballing sweat. It turned out to be more of a casual fumble behind the bike sheds, nothing hardcore aside from one brilliant touch from Christian Eriksen that saw him lift the ball over Ciaran Clarke as he turned and left him for dead, breaking my penis in the process. But that's okay. After Saturday's comical entertainment, Spurs stuck in a low key yet still powerfully confident performance. Turns out that if your team played outstanding for a full season and were bang on it in terms of momentum towards the end of the last one then - SHOCK HORROR - they might just continue where they left off. Bit of continuity for you there. No price tag attached, it's already owned.
Even with the missing players, the half-fit ones and the one we let go, this was still the core of the super Spurs side that smashed teams for fun back in May. What did we expect? All the money spent by others to directly impact how we perform against everyone else? Sure, it's one game and over the course of the season new blood elsewhere might give them a cutting edge we also desire. I won't get salty about this until the window is shut and I know what we have to compete against those all too familiar demons of stagnation that have plagued us a couple of patches in the last two campaigns.
Newcastle were organised and attempted to drive forward rather than just soak up any pressure. Not that we offered much to start with. But if you're going to over analyse on day one you've got problems son. Jonjo Shelvey was scandalously tricked into placing his studs onto Dele Alli's ankle in what can only be described as a moment of madness by Earths gravitational pull. After the red card, Tottenham took hold of the extra space and proceeded to caress the tempo to allow more attacking fluidity. The origins of the spite was birthed with a spate between Jamaal Lascells and Dele earlier in the game (an untidy tackle that our spirited Spurs star took a disliking to with a polite shoulder barge). Shelvey got involved in the verbals and obviously never let it go. Matt Ritchie also booked for a cynical foul on the demonised, evil incarnate Alli. Lot's of pantomime booing from the home fans. A television replay will leave them feeling stupid in the aftermath.
I should also mention Kane's yellow card. Got the ball but was carded for the scissor-kick stylings. No malicious intent to harm. In no way comparable to the Jonjo idiocy. Rafa Benitez is cray to think otherwise.
Patient build up play and movement led to the first goal. Eriksen with yet another one of those pin point assists with Dele seeing the pass before others were blessed with its existence. The vision from both players was delightfully top tier. Kane looking to play the one-two with the Dane, driving into the pen box, with the ball instead going at an angle towards Dele rather than dinked forward for Harry. Spurs puncturing the plucky, a sharp slap to the back of the head, a reminder of the difference in class when class wants to swagger on preview mode.
The second wasn't as clean but the intent was there, bodies moving towards the box, touch here and there to keep the balls momentum moving and Ben Davies showing up to sweep the ball in. Eriksen again involved and with the assist (be it slightly fortunate). Game over. Harry Kane could have and should have scored a couple of goals. Then again, it's August (which arguably is what he considers his pre-season).
Kyle Walker-Peters was more than decent on his debut, granted against newly promoted opposition. We still need a right back that offers us pace so that we can revert to the more traditional devastating three at the back + wing backs system. We need to be adaptable, right? Still, it was a heartwarming performance from the youngster once again proving that development of our academy products shouldn't be dismissed as a cost saving exercise. Although, in the here and now, we still require finished products to give us the aforementioned edge others have paid untold millions for.
Three points in the bag. Happy days. Chelsea away from home at home next weekend. If this win in Newcastle was dipping our toes in the water, the next one is akin to diving into shark infested waters.