PLAYER RATINGS: Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Southampton

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Christmas had come early. It came late too. Another hat-trick for King Kane. And a game to entertain the neutral in the festive spirit of the season.

In their history, Spurs have boasted some of the greatest strikers. Those in the stadium this Boxing Day witnessed Harry Kane put down yet another marker in his journey to becoming one of the best of all time … at Spurs … in the Prem … in world football. Calendar year records ahead of Shearer in the Prem and Messi in Europe, far more efficiently (in terms of playing time) than either. Brickbats and hyperbole abound in the rollercoaster of football support but I make no apologies whatsoever for paying these tributes to an outstanding footballer … who plays for us!

This was an exciting performance which matched some of the best of the rest of the top six and speed was key – speed of breaking, passing, closing, thought, feet … you name it. Surely, it was what all that pre-season double training was for, a return to the Poch philosophy, the project.

Lloris – 5

Played well enough but was responsible for both goals, weak right hand on his near post for the first, weak punch for the second – both question marks will be registering with opposition managers. Still like him though. Happy birthday!

Sanchez – 7

Still growing and looking good.

Vertonghen – 10

My last comment on Jan was ‘usual self’. That’s not good enough; it’s just that his consistency is such that it’s difficult to differentiate one performance from another. He surpassed even himself today. Absolutely without words to describe how brilliant he was!

Aurier – 7

Can you say a grown man has matured in six months. Probably not, but he looks ten times the player of those early outings. The question of discipline probably still arises as he was drawn out of position for the first goal.

Rose – 8

Lung-bursting runs that draw fouls in dangerous areas (including a first goal) and body on the line tackles and interceptions. How good will he when he’s fully fit? As good as last year?

Dier – 7

Epitomised the best and worst of the team’s performance. Made some vital, committed interceptions, moved the ball quickly, even cleverly at times. But was caught out when slow and ponderous in his distribution.

Dembele – 7

Looked mobile, dare I say fit, until he sat down on the turf announcing he had run his race. One the best of his recent performances.

Eriksen – 9

Played some exquisite balls, producing the kind of moments we say are worth the price of admission. An example was his ferocious and exact delivery for the first goal – difficult better.

Dele – 9

He has deserved criticism in recent weeks but delivered in a perplexed, sad way, and never the triumphalism that cried out ‘I knew he was shit anyway’ that some emotional sorts can get into. His class, and it is real class, is evident in his weight of pass, in the last game and this. Were there two assists and a goal and a vital ball to create Son’s assist? The weight of pass for Harry’s hat-trick was unbelievable (Harry can almost say the quality of assisting gave him tap ins today … almost!). Dele was going to thrash his goal hopelessly as most would but then, in a split second, changed his mind to push through the ball, bending it in from outside the post and round blind-sighting defenders.

Son – 9

Go on, another 9 – it’s Christmas. Different to the others in his threat, his constant running and quick thinking must make defenders’ heads drop.

Kane – 10

What’s to say? Today, his striker’s intelligence was in evidence: how to track the pattern of the game to put yourself in exactly the right place to be on the end of a chance. One day they might be able to measure this, the myriad of kinaesthetic calculations that must be involved. But here’s another one: how is it he gets the ball to feet facing the play and turns, not like a tanker but, say, like a naval destroyer, in the direction of the goal, with all the obvious intent, and yet two and three defenders fall away like tug boats in open sea, quite unable to throw a line over him? Another thing: my favourite goal today was one he never scored – that volley that came over his shoulder and he hit first time, just passed the post. I could go on. That is the remarkable thing – I could just go on…

Subs

Winks was brought on for Dele when it was more important we didn’t let another goal in than that we scored one of a dozen possible breakaway goals. Lamela and Sissoko are both beginning to look fit and, dare I say it, both bring willing running, energy and directness of play to the midfield – ideal as the play breaks down in the last quarter.

 

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