It started flat and sloppy, and perhaps Spurs can be forgiven having assuredly, as all their supporters were doing in the N17 pubs, having just watched Leicester Rope-A-Dope another uninspiring side in Sunderland who wouldn’t or couldn’t score and eventually fell victim to the inevitable second half break—our wake-up call was at half past one, Younes.
But United were never going to score today—not with that abomination of a selection from Van Gaal, and eventually in the press before half time, Spurs arguably could have scored at least thrice: Kane getting snuffed by Degea on a cross from Rose; Lamela failing to convert a header with a wide-open goal beckoning, Kane unable to get a shot after DeGea had overrun the ball in the box and an even more wide-open goal beckoned, and Walker getting stiffed by teenage defender Fosu-Mensah.
They kept huffing and puffing and, after a few more chances and the one Red Devil scare— a nice move from Anthony Martial from the left along the box which forced a nice save by Lloris, the dam burst. The two worker bees—Lamela and Kane, pried a long ball loose from several United defenders, Kane sent Eriksen away, and the latter found Alli streaking for the goal. Degea never had a chance. Just a few minutes later, after Kane had been roughed up in the middle of the field, Lamela launched a free kick that found Toby Alderweireld’s head and was converted brilliantly into a second goal. The Argentine finished the part just two minutes later after another wicked Danny Rose cross.
United were finished—left to nearly concede a fourth from either a Kane header or a Walker blast off the post—Depay tried to mess with our right back, and soon discovered (sorry, this one’s irresistible) with this Spurs side opponents find themselves “Walking on Memphis”—as Kyle, as with Dier, Alli, Rose, either center half and practically the entire team, was not going to be intimidated.
The remaining charges of LVG clearly wanted to get out of Dodge as fast as possible—and preferably in less traffic than they experienced getting to the ground. One wonders just what Ed Woodward and the Glasers truly believe about this team, and if Mourinho really wants to assume the helm of such an unspecial group of players. And how ridiculous any notion of Pochettino or Kane (or Tom Carroll and Josh Onomah, for that matter) bolting their current situation to join this pile of mediocrity is. A few wags and I walking to Seven Sisters started assessing the relative strengths of the two sides, and decided that only Anthony Martial of United’s outfield players could start for Spurs, and even then it would be a close call given Erik Lamela’s work rate. The obscenity laced chants “You’re fucking shit” and then, to the Hey Jude chorus, the sparer “You’re shit” were to this ear clearly the product of two decades of domination by one manager and a fan base gone arrogant only now experiencing how the other quarter (No, they won’t fall below 10th) really lives.
Special is the right word to explain the other team, its players, manager, and immediate and more distant future. No, we are almost certainly not going to catch the fixes, but can there be any doubt about which is the best side in the league? A +35 goal difference combined by the most goals scored in the league, the fewest conceded, only four defeats all season. Leicester will be deserving champions and .yes, our lads dropped some crucial points to the likes of Newcastle, Stoke, Liverpool, Arsenal, and, of course Leicester themselves at the Lane, that we wished we had back. But Spurs are the one team no one wants to play.
Who might be favored over us to claim the title next year? With so much managerial upheaval? Only Man City infused by not just Pep but a few more Abu Dhabi fueled players would seem to be close to our level. And while the likes of Toure, Kompany, Silva and Aguero are all a year older, so are the blossoming skills of Alli, Kane, Eriksen, Dier and Co. Five games left—a slim hope of going top, a strengthened resolve to pip Arsenal and finish second. They might just win them all.
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