This one’s pretty simple, and it’s not to diminish solid contributions up and down the lineup in a game that could easily have gone very differently. Our manager is figuring out how to win with this side; our striker is still world-class and our goalkeeper has quietly become perhaps our most important player in this bifurcated season.
Let’s take them one by one. We’re fourth in the league since Jose took over. Next to Manchester United, we’ve arguably played consistently better than any other side in the league, including and especially the top two, since the restart. We can only be denied Europe (and given 2012 we know it is hardly impossible for this chain of events to occur) if we a) stumble at Palace, b) see Wolves defeat both the Eagles and Chelsea and c) watch them win the Cup. If we beat a Palace squad already mostly on holiday only three victories in those other three games can deny us. And while we’ve all grown jaded about Thursdays somewhere in the bowels of the continent, the fact is it will be a trophy to play for and one that isn’t beyond our grasp. And if I can steal from the Amazon documentary just a bit, I don’t see many nice lads out there anymore, whether we want to go all the way to the c-word to describe them. Sanchez, Sissoko, Aurier and Lo Celso, in particular, are a handful for any opponent to deal with—aided and abetted from the effort from Winks, Lucas, the other defenders and, of course, Kane. Clean sheets are starting to become a way of life again.
But let’s be honest. The biggest reason for yesterday’s clean sheet was between the posts. Lloris has been just about the best keeper in the league this last month—as others have seen struck by curious misjudgments, including both Brazilian nationals handing the Gooners inexplicable goals. Our captain—and the halftime contretemps with Son reinforced that post—was simply brilliant yesterday, making at least three or was it four saves that were borderline world-class and keeping Spurs ahead when the game was still in doubt. Many of us have been wondering just how long his remaining tenure will or should be—the evidence of the last month suggests that he might just be here a few more seasons.
Which brings me to the primary star of this show. The sad thing about yesterday is that it will undoubtedly spur (pun intended) another raft of “Harry has to leave.. are Spurs ambitions enough for Kane” stories from all friends in the chattering class. I personally think that a) the market simply won’t work for a player like Kane this summer and that b) at the very least he wants to give Jose a chance for one season in which to win a trophy. But no matter. That was one of the best performance in a single half for any player in the Premier League this season— hell, any season. His ball to Son which set up the first goal was sublime (and notice how fast he was sprinting to be in position for a pass or rebound after launching that ball), his first goal (kudos to Lucas for a terrifically-timed assist) was a perfect finish, and his second brought back to mind the old ruthless Harry Kane taking a few inches and making it a mile. Wonderful stuff from one end of the half to the other. Is there a better centre forward in this league? Aguero, Martial, Aubameyang, Vardy and whichever of the Liverpool threesome you select are all top notch. None has the complete skill set which our Harry can brandish. Here’s hoping that at 27 next year for Spurs and England can produce his pinnacle—it will be something to relish.
How far are we truly away? Two weeks ago I thought the gulf was still pretty large. Since then we’ve beaten Arsenal and seen them beat the top two teams in succession. Sure there were extenuating circumstances in all three games, but results matter. Our eyes don’t deceive. We won’t play in the manner of Pochettino anymore. But that was correct for 2015-18 with a leftover dessert in the Champions League a year ago. It wouldn’t be yesterday. Whether Jose can bring us to another peak, and whether that will include silverware—well, that’s what we watch the games, isn’t it? The summer might just pass pretty quickly after all.
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