We never expected to feel as nervous as this about the top four and, if we’re honest, we would have settled for a win any old how. In that respect, we weren’t disappointed – a win achieved despite a very modest performance indeed.
It was a strangely sloppy, complacent and purposeless first half from Spurs during which we were gifted a goal and then did our well mannered best to return the compliment (on more than one occasion).
Second half Spurs scored early and then decided to kill the game – and certainly succeeded as far as this particular spectator was concerned. It was scrappy enough for Pochettino to bring on Sissoko for the rapidly fading Son (when some of us had been praying for twenty minutes for Lucas Moura to be given a run).
Lloris – 7
It was a far more reassuring performance from Lloris in which he made (admittedly routine) saves which nevertheless kept us in the game. Subtle differences: better positioning, judgements, stronger wrists.
Sanchez – 6
Started imperiously but then appeared particularly vulnerable against runners from midfield – but who isn’t?
Vertonghen – 7
Probably my player of our season. Once again the most consistent defender and, as is his way, did his Messi best to provide Harry Kane with a hat trick. His header came off the post and Harry, with an open goal, couldn’t quite decide which way round his feet were. Then, a great touch and lay off and Harry slotted home from a fractionally offside position.
Trippier – 8
I’ve been wondering why, in recent weeks, Trippier seems to have more impact than Davies and it is partly because Son and Dele do the attacking down the left flank while Trippier has the space and opportunity to do so down the right in conjunction with Eriksen; Davies, like Dier on the right, just backs up, providing the out ball. Of course, structurally Trippier is better placed to look better but, in this game, he certainly raised his game accordingly. Strong tackles, runs and crosses, one of which was too close to the keeper (which turned out to be a good thing on this occasion), quick thinking and feet from Eriksen, composure from Dele … one nil. A second cross made scoring easy for Kane (thankfully).
Davies – 5
No space for him to impress and he didn’t particularly do so.
Dier – 6
With his more modest talents, it’s always a bad sign when he outplays his more talented midfield partner but he did today. He made mistakes himself but was more reliable and provided a threat at least with shots and headers.
Dembele – 5
Only a month or two back, it was difficult not to think of The Moose in world class terms. How curiously he’s faded. His game now, which was once imperious, seems riddled with errors and you even begin to question how he contributes. Suspicion of an injury but he needed to be taken off anyway.
Son – 5
Always willing and with the potential of threat but really wasn’t a game he impacted on at all.
Eriksen – 7
In a rich vein of form, he looks great on the ball. Good assist. Deservedly in the PFA team of the year. Just not a game he really decorated as he can.
Dele – 7
He kicked the ball away at one point such was his frustration with the game. He finished his chance with cool composure however and his pass in the build up to the second goal was exquisite. He competed.
Kane – 6
Of course, he will be happier with this game – he scored. Took it well. Still, not himself. Didn’t make anything of space he worked for himself. Bambi on ice before the second, newborn Bambi after Jan’s header -it’s like that when a striker is finding his form. But he is beginning to find it. Roll on his usual seven or eight goals before the end of the season.
Wanyama and Sissoko came on to shore up the midfield and Sissoko gave his usual All Sorts grab bag of strength and folly. Lamela ran rings round everyone but, since we weren’t heading in the direction of their goal at the time, they amounted to ever diminishing circles.
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