Tonight was an entirely expected and, but for roughly ten Spursy moments in the second half, a stress-free experience. Dembele bulled his way past Clark and then found Guzan’s 5 hole to stamp the first half—a rather lackluster forty minutes ended with Alli’s flourish and removed most doubt about the outcome. After the lapse that led first to Bacuna’s near-miss and then Ayew’s deflection off Vertonghen, Spurs wobbled for a few more minutes before doing what this side has been doing for three months now: stabilizing the situation and then finishing it off with Kane through Lamela. Three points that may be as easy as they come for some while now, but welcome nonetheless.
And now we face two fixtures that will either enhance or perhaps lessen our collective growing enthusiasm for this season of great promise, that will cap the first third of this campaign. On Thursday the outcomes could leave Spurs desperate, shaky or secure in their ability to advance beyond the Europa group stage. On Sunday those same three outcomes will leave Spurs’ Top Four prospects as only fair, good or excellent.
We know which of the two games we’d rather win—but it might do the lads better in the long run to win the game they ought to win. I have no illusions about the downside of Thursday nights—against a fairly slim prospect of a trophy leading to automatic Champions League qualification. But there is something about winning that should pay dividends throughout the remainder of this season—in the League, in the FA Cup, in the confidence of a young side and its manager.
Tonight was so evenly balanced that while Alli has been deemed Man of the Match with Dembele runner-up, any one of Dier, Kane, Alderweireld and Rose could also have earned the honor. It makes Poch’s selection decisions for these two games in the next six days rather interesting.
Lloris is going nowhere—we won’t see Vorm until either injury or the FA Cup arises. I would think the Belgian Waffles will occupy the center back slots in both games. Davies will get the call Thursday at left back with Rose getting a knock tonight; I’m not sure if Trippier will be similarly rewarded over Walker. Assuming no post-injury emergence for either Bentaleb or Son, the midfield would appear to favor Mason and N’jie vs. Anderlecht with Dembele and Lamela likely to sit. I suspect Poch will play Kane Thursday until the outcome has been decided—Son’s presence could have obviated the need to play the suddenly in-form striker in all three games, but I don’t think Poch wants to trust the sole striker role to Clinton. Not yet. Eriksen, Dier and Alli are also likely to feature in all three fixtures this week with Chadli hurt—we may see some of Townsend or Onomah Thursday night, again if Spurs can grab a lead and wrap the game up quickly.
Both games might be tense tight affairs. The Gunners have found their best form since last season at this time—but this Spurs side might just go to the Emirates and win one point—or more… And Anderlecht would love nothing more than a night in London to reverse a thirty year old bad memory. We’re the Tottenham boys, making all that noise—maybe for a long time this season.
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