One aspect of being a Yank writing about Spurs is that one has a load of context about games of all sorts—our football, basketball, baseball—rivalry games, playoff games, championship games. None of them were as fierce and consistently thrilling as the two hours I spent at the East Stand of White Hart Lane this afternoon watching Spurs dismantle those emigrants from Kent.
Perhaps the salient fact about this performance was that Spurs played best not in the half when “One of our Own” supplied all the magic, but in the prior 45 minutes when the Gunners took the lead. It is a credit to all associated with our club—the manager, the players, the upstairs office and yes, the fans—that they simply shrugged the disappointment of not scoring and went out and got the job done. Last year Spurs drew once and lost eight times to the Top Four—this season, against those same side, we have achieved all three possible results twice, and if we expand the table to include the next three—Southampton, West Ham and Man United—you can add two more wins and a draw. It’s not a mirage, in fact it’s based on extremely hard work, the acceptance and adherence of Mauricio Pochettino’s philosophy, and the way that our academy players have blended with those brought in while Gareth Bale was still here and since.
I’ll get to our savior in a minute, but I had fingered the two fullbacks and holding midfielders as the keys to this game—to keep Arsenal at bay. All four played brilliantly: blame Rose for letting Welbeck loose on the burst which led to Ozil’s goal, but for the remainder of the 90 minutes Danny was brilliant in both directions, nearly scoring twice from repeated forays down the left wing; Kyle Walker was nearly as precocious in attack and flawless on defense; and the Academy boys shone in demonstrating a crucial difference between this side and all the recent others—Mason and Bentaleb fight for the ball, reverse the play and occasionally , as with Nabil’s diagonal ball to Kane for the winner, they can strike in attack. So Mason had a few ill-advised passes—it’s worth it. Just as Erik Lemela and Mousa Dembele’s faults—the former botched a volley or two and the latter stopped just as he was about to create a chance on multiple occasions—are acceptable if they fight for and gain possession. Lloris and the two center halfs were solid as usual; Christian Eriksen was flitting around causing concern—just because Arsenal held him at bay doesn’t reduce his value.
For the point is, all of that is part of the deal when you have a ruthless goalscorer at the ready. What more can be said about Harry except this: he is fast becoming THE story of the Premier League this season, and one of the best stories in all of world sport, let alone football. Where I come from if you said a 21 yr old, previously consigned to the minor leagues, who was born and bred to be a player on your team, has burst forth with one amazing performance after another, placing his team in full view of unforeseen heights—you’d be laughed out of the Hollywood script room. Or to put it more earthily: “you can’t make this s#%t up”. And yet there he was—poaching the first as all great goalscorers do, and brilliantly heading home the second. Yep—he’s one of our own… And will be for years to come.
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