So Many Statements, So Little Time

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Let’s get the big conclusion out of the way—Spurs are one of the top five teams in the world. As surprising as that statement might seem, the corollary is equally true and will shock many: the exact order of those five teams could be anything. Did Man City, PSG, or Barcelona travel to the Bernabeu and hold the two defending champions to a draw? And if Real Madrid come to Wembley in 10 days time and lose, thus almost certainly surrendering the group to Spurs, would any of those teams be confident they could do any better?

Today’s undressing of Liverpool was significant for many reasons. Wembley hoodoo? Gone. Done. Over. I was there tonight—my first experience at the national stadium. It takes nearly an hour to get to the tube station afterwards—but you knew that already. Other than that, it felt real good—80,000 fans—over 90% of whom were cheering on Harry Kane & Co. and from the fourth minute we had a lot to cheer about. Liverpool jinx? Gone. Done. Over. This was the type of defeat that in the AVB/Sherwood years Liverpool or City hung on us. Let’s be honest—Hugo made one world-class save on Countinho—but between Son hitting the bar, nearly whiffing another chance, and failing to connect with Kane in one of many flowing counters in the first half, it could easily have been six.

And now we know there are three legit title contenders in this league—one of which has a manager who will not always let them play, perhaps acknowledging their deficiencies, and another who did not defeat us last year and for all their style, do not defend as well as Spurs do. We can’t get back the loss to Chelsea or the draws to Burnley or Swansea—but can City make it through the next seven months without a similar set of stumbles? If Spurs take four points from six, as we did last year, could that be enough to win the title. And yet I have a little voice in my ear whispering “Champions League. There’s the ticket.” That if—and it’s a big if—Spurs beat Real Madrid on Nov 1, it might open up that competition to the deepest run imaginable.

As for the game, Kane brilliantly converted Lovren’s first mistake and Mignolet’s gamble. Kane brilliantly converted Lovren’s second mistake with a perfectly weighted cross to Son. Son nearly got a third with an exquisite shot off the bar, and then should have probably shot a bit later when he tried to return his striker’s favor. After the one defensive lapse that mattered—and it seemed to me the defence shut down for a tick thinking Kane had been fouled—Dele took the outcome from any doubt by slamming in another Liverpool miscue just before the half-time whistle. Kane’s final goal—in similar circumstance was one cherry on top of this super sundae—Lloris massive stop on Coutinho was the other.

Winks and Sanchez were both superb, providing a spine that many of us figured depended on the two Belgian center backs, Dembele and Wanyama. Dele had his best game of the year, twice making “now you see it…. Now you don’t” backheel escapes in the second half. And while Aurier made a silly error that almost led to a 2nd goal for Liverpool, he continues to impressive with his insistent play, this time at left wing ahead of both Davies and Rose, who sat on the bench. We were ruthless. We were well-organized on defence. We were much the better side. A cup game v the Hammers and a chance to play some of the kids, and then the two remaining challenges in this quarter of tests after. Experience would tell us to be fortunate for just a point in the two games—somehow I think this bunch and their manager are hoping for much more.

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.

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