Fess up. When Kane hit the crossbar, you were mildly irked. When two more chances by him went a glimmering you started to glance skyward, wondering if this was one of “those games” with Brad Guzan in the role of Tim Krul, Kasper Schmeichel or a bevy of other goalkeepers that have stymied our lads in seemingly lopsided contests. Lamela hitting the post made those comparisons all too real.
Not this season. Not these Spurs. Alli to Kane and a beautiful left-footed finish. And then after the break the same two combined for a second and all suspense about this particular game flew away. Hell, we couldn’t even succeed at the end when we tried to be Spursy and first Gestede and then Lescott failed to convert outright gifts for a Villa goal. Alli and Kane will draw the headlines, but to me the real dynamic force in this team—week in and week out—are the two fullbacks. Walker and Rose are constant threats, they get back to defend and do so with aplomb, they are in the midst of most good things that happen with this side. When the ball swings to either on the wing, I no longer worry about what will happen next.
So now we look at the remaining fixtures, and wonder: “How many can we win?” And “How many must we win?” A reasonable, albeit hopeful, projection would be six victories and a draw—losing either to Liverpool or Chelsea away, and drawing the other, or winning one of those two but stumbling elsewhere, perhaps vs Stoke or Southampton—or to Man United at the Lane. If Spurs drop five points could Leicester possibly drop ten? Three defeats and a draw for the Foxes? Against an easier fixture list? It is possible because who knows what pressure can produce among a team that will only grow in its awareness of the magnitude of its task. But unlikely.
Yet the truth is that Spurs could also win every one of the remaining eight games. Liverpool and Chelsea away are traditionally difficult, but truth is we are superior to both teams this season. As we are to the Red Devils. Barring a stunning turnaround Thursday, all other competition distractions will, as with Leicester (and soon Arsenal as well), be gone. Once Jan Vertonghen returns the team should be as healthy as it has been all season. Today’s result shows just how intense Pochettino has insisted the focus to be, and his charges, after the one stumble in East London, are following his lead.
One step at a time. The resurgent Cherries next week, and if three points are secured we move on to the next one. It’s all still in front of us.
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