In actual fact, it was a couple of new things that sent Spurs on the way to another thoroughly undeserved, yet especially sweet away win. Sleepwalking into games has been an all too apparent hallmark of a rather mediocre season. However, from the first thirty seconds it was clear that this was something that had (for the time being at least) been addressed. A high pressing first half that even Eric Lamela was involved in right from the first whistle smacked of a team who had been rightly warned to hit the ground running. It’s amazing what actually turning up for the first twenty minutes of game does for the whole outlook and tempo of a match. Spurs were by no means at their best today and there were certainly some worrying defensive lapses; yet, there was an air of early and maintained concentration today that has been evident none too frequently of late. This early pressure bought a corner, and a subsequent goal, without which it is fair to say; today’s result might have been very different. This new professional, intense start to a match is something that is absolutely essential to turning around our drab home form, and must be replicated in the weeks ahead.
A second novel feature of today’s performance was the fact that we have apparently started practicing set pieces; something omitted from the training regime since before the Martin Jol era. It not just Kane’s opening goal I am referring to here, although that is clearly the highlight. All game, our corners and free kicks caused a degree of uncertainty in the Swansea in the box which would have looked right at home in a highlights reel of White Hart Lane. Kane was unfortunate not to score a second from an another corner and Eriken’s deliveries were much improved from previous weeks. Cheap, set-piece goals might not be the Spurs way, but on a wet and windy evening in South Wales they sure do make a difference.
Something that is becoming a bit of an old habit now is last minute winners away from home. Under AVB we went through a similar phase, usually orchestrated by Gareth Bale’s left boot. The new Spurs ‘sting in the tail?’ Stand up, Christian Eriksen. When you have a player who can find a yard like that, then hit the ball with such precision, you always have a chance in the last five minutes of games and Mauricio is certainly making the most of this resource. Many will have argued that we shouldn’t have needed last minute winners away to Villa and Hull, but I see this habit as no bad thing. It shows a form of resilience, still in it’s infancy, but there none-the-less. If teams know we are capable of striking late, that will be in their minds and that makes a difference. Teams will sit deeper if they’re looking to play out a draw in the last five minutes of a game and on the evidence of today, that may well start playing into our hands.
Something borrowed? We’ve seen glimpses of it, here and there, most notably against Everton, and today was another example. MP’s Southampton-esque methods appear to be permeating the skin of the Spurs squad and I like the effects. Our first corner and consequent goal were the result of a high energy press from the first minute, harassing defenders in deep positions and forcing a couple of errors. Our second goal had Saints 2013 written on the gift tag and what a prize it was. Yet more high pressure from Kane and Co. led to a Jazz Richard’s error, instant pressure on the Swansea midfield and an eventual Eriksen winner.
This season has been no picnic and ‘fans’ (usually on that abhorrent Spurs Facebook page) have been quick to point out that MP has had a worse set of results than what got AVB fired, so surely he should go to? Why is this situation different, why are right to stick rather than twist once again? Because it is clear what MP is trying to do, the glances of it are becoming more frequent. Results haven’t been great, but there has been an underlying style that MP has been trying to impose. It will take the rest of this season to finish bedding in, but we must wait for it to happen. We’re still in second gear and I’m excited to get into third. Keep the faith. COYS.
Have something to tell us about this article?