2015-16: A Season of Fox-Hunting

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It was fitting that Spurs prevailed at the King Power Stadium tonight. Four games vs Leicester—three in the past two and a half weeks—and the home side won exactly none. The doubters of both these surprising Top Four entries must concede from more than six hours of mutual play that a) both teams are worthy of their current league placement and b) they are evenly-matched.

But it will be Spurs now to journey to Colchester with a chance to pursue silverware in three different venues. The ball bouncers have not been kind to Pochettino’s crew—what with initial Cup fixtures vs two of the three teams ahead of them in the league; and a second consecutive early date in Europe with one of Italy’s best in Fiorentina. No matter—the nature of these competitions is that sooner or later the cream must be faced—there’s an argument for injury and fatigue purposes that a club like Spurs might as well get the tough tests early. If they’re up to it then the tests of depth and resilience have a purpose; if they’re not, save the energy and manpower for a different competition.

Heung-Min Son’s role in the coming months must be to provide goals in non-League competition, sparing the overworked (for more than a calendar Year) Harry Kane for the crucial league tests to come. His opener tonight achieved that purpose, as well as pulling the Foxes away from their preferred counter-attack philosophy, practiced to a ridiculous degree in the first 45 minutes. It made one forget about all the sound and fury signifying nothing, as a bevy of Lilywhite players could not figure out how to do much of anything to break down the Leicester bus. Walker, after numerous opportunities, finally unleashed a powerful cross, but Chadli was sleepwalking at the far corner. Carroll showed little spark; Lamela and Chadli not much more; and Eriksen simply lacked the partnership of Dembele and Kane to open up the defence for some better opportunities.

The second half would be the key test to see if this side could, as they have not too often, finish the deal. Michel Vorm stifled the first good chance from the Foxes—Spurs feel into a bit of a defensive rut and then Lamela botched a wonderful counter possibility with either Eriksen or Son easily open for a sitter. Once Kane replaced him, though, Spurs quickly stabilized with Eriksen and Son producing an excellent chance for “OOOO” and Kane then following suit to Son and over to Chadli for the clincher. This side could go a long way toward Wembley—one can only salivate over the prospects of Spurs making progress in three different silverware quests to come. Or to welcome whichever young striker the transfer window supplies as depth behind Kane and Son.

Kane’s value for this team is expressed in many ways. One of the most telling came in the 72nd minute, as he came close to beating Schmeichel for a third goal with his left foot, but then recovered and forced a loss of possession seventy yards to the rear on the subsequent Leicester counter. That type of effort is contagious and speaks volumes about the work ethic which the manager has demanded and his charges have supplied. Teams that try this hard can, with a modicum of talent, achieve glory.

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.


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