There might come a point in the season when Harry Kane’s legs just say that’s quite enough for me, thanks and go into hibernation for a month. And who could blame them? It’s likely to happen mid-game. While he’s busy chasing down the 432nd lost cause of the day; his hollow, weary thighs will simply pull across the curtains, dim the lights and drift off for a long, well-earned sleep.
After playing 10 minutes short of a full quota of minutes for England last week, there was a fear that Kane might show some signs of fatigue in Sunday’s late-afternoon brush with West Ham. This, after all, would be his 24th game since the start of the campaign, clocking up around 2,000 minutes in the process. If there was any chance he was feeling a touch heavy-legged, however, he kept his physical struggles remarkably well hidden.
Indeed, for most non-professional athletes feeling a little worn-out, a course of action might be to invest in a nice sit-down, maybe pop on an Enya CD and light some candles. For the hot air balloon-lunged members of this new look Spurs side, the best remedy appears to be to sprint your arse off until your heat map looks like an aerial shot of a bushfire.
While West Ham toiled uselessly in the heat, then, it was Tottenham who chalked up their sixth win of the season and extended their unbeaten run to twelve. The last time Spurs lost in the League was the 8th of August.
Ah, August. Things were different back then.
The discovery of liquid water on Mars would remain wholly undiscovered for another six weeks; Jeremy Corbyn was still just a democratic socialist twinkle in the Labour Party’s eye and Volkswagen hadn’t even heard of emissions testing before. This was the world we lived in when Spurs last tasted League defeat. A whole lifetime ago.
They’ll face sterner tests than West Ham, of course, if their run is to seep into the Christmas period. Architects in the home downfalls of Arsenal, Liverpool and City this season, the Hammers were hamstrung creatively by the absence of the talismanic, Dimitri Payet. Defensively it was a ninety-minute cautionary tale for the club’s next generation of young Rio Ferdinands. A what-not-to-do handbook for budding defenders.
Elsewhere Andy Carroll isn’t the most mobile of sorts at the best of times. One to avoid in anyone’s daily fantasy football league team. But against an energetic, young Spurs side, with him gasping like a beached sea bass (obviously not match-fit), West Ham would’ve had greater success wheeling out a cement mixer and half-burying it in the penalty area. He offered them nothing while the more light-footed attackers who tried to satellite around him, Diafra Sakho and Victor Moses, were either shunted too far out of position to be effective or just plain stumped for ideas. Moses looked lost in the desert.
Similar to the victory against Villa, it’s natural for Spurs fans to highlight the inadequacies of the opposition- to temper expectations, if nothing else. But once again it was as much a case of Spurs’ quality as it was West Ham’s non-performance. Tottenham made them look ordinary.
It’s hard to assert any kind of authority on a game if you’re given only millisecond windows in which to do so. Whenever the away side had a rare moment of possession, it was almost immediately arrested back by Spurs’ tireless group pressing. Harry Kane’s second goal came as a result of Deli Alli putting James Tomkins under just enough pressure for him to lose concentration and give it straight to Christian Eriksen, of all people. It was a complete team performance.
With the collective being so strong, it seems unnecessary to pick out anyone for individual praise. But perhaps we should make an exception. They’ll be a time when the police finally catch up with Mauricio Pochettino, and ask him what he’s done with the real Mousa Dembélé. His family must be very worried. From bench-ridden embodiment of half-assery; a player who never looked too far away from his next yawn, to hard-working, all-action midfielder in the space of a month. Whatever alchemy or witchcraft the Spurs coach has worked on the Belgian, it’s the biggest about-turn in football since Neil Warnock’s opinion on El Hadji Diouf.
Qarabağ up next. The cosmic ballet goes on.