As the first half drew to a close I texted to a mate (a Sunderland supporter) that barring injury and the distraction of the Europa League Spurs could easily win the league.
The second is yet to rear its oh-so ugly head, but the first bit us straight in our Lilywhite arse, didn’t it? We won’t know for a while yet the details, but Vertonghen’s own reaction speaks volumes—it’s clearly a knee and it must be a ligament. We can only hope that it is not season-ending but the possibility if not the probability looms.
Aside from the very real loss of a player and leader of Jan’s quality, there is now a pressing question for Poch—does he keep the three in the back shape? For 40 minutes Spurs were a thing of beauty and the XI looked simply perfect. Dier-Alderweireld-Vertonghen across the back, two strong and fast wingers wreaking continuous havoc (Danny and Kyle’s strength are their underrated qualities—that as much as their pace means they are rarely caught up), two rocks in the middle with Dembele parrying constantly while Wanyama sits back and dares attackers to run through him, and then the effervescent troika of Eriksen, Dele and Kane up front.
As close to a perfect machine (Robbie Earle and Musto’s word on the NBC broadcast in the states) as 21st Century English football could produce. It was as if the Baggies were simply bystanders for the first half, Ben Foster and the bounce of the ball the only things preventing it from being four or even five for Spurs. Pochettino must now make a basic set of decisions—can he trust Davies to play the left side for Vertonghen and thus keep the 3-4-2-1 shape that is proving so productive? Does he trust Trippier (yes, I would think) and Wimmer (perhaps—or Carter-Vickers) enough to give Alderweireld and Dembele spells of rest once the fixture list begins to grow with the two cups? Son, Sissoko, Nkoudou, Winks and, one hopes, Lamela are also all slated for more play in what will probably be different set-ups in Europa or FA Cup games.
As for this game, the brilliance abounded. Kane’s three could have been five. Dele without making the score sheet was always a flitter—his ability to make left touchline runs into something threatening while marked is unparalleled in this league, certainly for a right-footed player. His disallowed offsides goal was sublime—his final chip for Kane equally impressive. Eriksen had one slightly off spell—heavy touches, misplaced passes—noticeable only because the excellence around him and then by him later was so constant. Dembele and Wanyama are a perfect pairing, as are Walker and Rose. It is simply the best Spurs side in…..well, I don’t care that I never saw the Bill Nick early 60s group play. THIS IS THE BEST SPURS SIDE EVER…
Let’s hope we see Jan again on the pitch this season. City next weekend there– with the Anfield game, one of the two toughest remaining. If we don’t lose there, when will we?
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