In the second half Stoke opened up like, well, I don’t want to use an expression that would get me in trouble so let’s just say they were all too willing and Spurs gladly exploited it. We did what we do vs the Potters—a quarter of four goal margins on the trot.
The first half was a different proposition—Son, our best player throughout until his removal, centered a ball that Ryan Shawcross could do little with but redirect into the back of his net. Kane bottled an absolute sitter in front of Jack Butland with ample time to place the ball to either side for a second. And aside from those chances there was ample frustration, particularly from the likes of Christian Eriksen, Dele, Kane and Kieran Tripper—all of whom were either imprecise or careless or both.
Eventually form would prevail, however, as Son and Eriksen kept producing chances after the break—each converting from the other– and Kane was all too glad to convert twice, could have had another and who knows how many Spurs could have collected without a few puzzling second half decisions by Roger East. Lloris stopped Shaqiri with the game still only at 3-0 with a magnificent save, but then lost his clean sheet on an ill-timed attempt to intercept a corner—Shawcross easily heading past him.
I liked the fact that once up, we pressed for more. Dembele and Winks were an effective pairing in the middle, constantly bossing their Stoke counterparts and throwing the ball forward to the increasingly rambunctious attackers. Davies was excellent on the left—Dier and Vertonghen were practically leak-proof at the back, and Son shone throughout. Erik Lamela had a couple of late shouts for goal—one would think he’ll keep in the lineup in some fashion throughout the festive period.
Brighton will be steaming after a loss to fellow drop zone candidate Huddersfield today—but I can’t imagine Spurs will be trapped in one of those 1-0, 1-1 Wembley games again. Not with City looming on the horizon. For all the angst about Wembley the fact is that we have played 13 games there in all competitions, losing just two—to Chelsea in a rather unlucky opener and to West Ham in a game which might have been necessary to lose to rekindle our Top Four effort and compete as positively as possible in the two remaining cup fights. The three draws are not a shock—it’s just that Liverpool, Real Madrid and Dortmund weren’t the opponents rather than West Brom, Burnley and Swansea. Hoodoo is yesterday’s news— tomorrow’s involves crucial games against the rest of the Big Six and a European side whose identity we will learn Monday. If it’s Juve or Bayern Munich, bring them on.
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