Feliz Ano Nuevo and a nice easy win at Vicerage Road. Let’s pause for a moment from the narrative of a brutally good Top Six, the crucial Chelsea game ahead, the rebirth of the likes of Kane and Alli from the burden of the Euros, expectations, or simply being barely 21 in a world of grown men, or anything else that applies in what may be the best Spurs team in the past fifty years. Kane and Alli were particularly bright today, but let’s face it—that was laughable defence from the Hornets. Harry would have done better and I bet Big Sam would agree….
I want to talk about the player we bought that was worth every penny. And the “they didn’t spend enough” or “wisely” critique is almost as misguided as it was a year ago when the likes of Alderweireld, Wimmer and Son made substantial contributions. Sissoko is playing well, Janssen was expected to do what exactly? Replace Kane? And Nkoudou has already shown flashes of brilliance with more coming as he and Lamela fight for playing time in the second half.
But Victor Wanyama has simply become the Rock of this team. He is a throwback—to the days of Keano and Vieira—a midfielder who commands his area and is not hesitant about letting all opposition know who’s boss. Let’s face it—Alli might or might not be a Lampard and Gerrard—we can only hope. Dier was never going to be Scholes. Dembele is a particularly unique flavor— one part steel, and another flourish. But even our key opponents don’t have anyone who does what the Kenyan routinely offers—not Matic or Kante, not Xhaka, not Fernandinho, not Pogba (who is a talented hybrid—one part Dembele and another Lampard). Wanyama stands in the middle of the pitch, directing traffic, and blunting attacks, throwing his body around when necessary, and simply commanding all around him. He only gets noticed with a particularly strong challenge or perhaps a header in the box—but isn’t that the point? Let’s see if the likes of Hazard, Fabregas and Pedro are able to run rampant on Wednesday. If they can’t, Wanyama will undoubtedly be one big reason why.
Folks who know this sport much better than me talk about the significance of the spine—Spurs have the best one in my memory. From Lloris through the Belgian Waffles and then including Eriksen (a deep #10 today and the role is perfect for him), Alli and Kane. But Dembele and Wanyama are vital linis in the chain. And one more thing—thanks to Kenya for not qualifying for the ACON—we need their best player over the next month.