Spurs Can No Longer Fly Under the Radar
The party’s over..
It had to happen sooner or later. After getting over a quarter of the way into the season without inviting much attention from the country’s back-page press, Spurs have now gone ten games unbeaten and all of a sudden we’re the Premier League Club du Jour. Shoo-ins for 4th place and maybe even candidates for an unlikely title bid. Well, realistic expectation, it was nice knowing you.
Maybe next year, eh?
It’s been of great benefit for Spurs’ steady progress this year, the fact that they’ve been allowed to go about their business largely undetected. There’s no sexy narrative behind a diligent work-ethic or solid defensive foundations, particularly when Jose Mourinho is losing his mind in such compelling fashion across town. An ambitious young side, lead by a talented but sound-bite deficient young coach just isn’t the stuff headlines or clicks are generated from.
But now, as Spurs inch up the table and the unbeaten streak rolls into Winter, the spell of ignominy has been broken. Folk are starting to take notice.
Not that they’re demonstrating any signs of being flustered by the attention. On Monday evening, despite a spirited eleventh-hour rally from Aston Villa, Spurs were able to convert another dominant performance into points. Perhaps an older vintage of this side, as recently as the second game of the season against Stoke, would have crumbled under the pressure of Villa’s espirit de corps comeback.
Whether or not it’s a sign of the West-Midland club’s alarming lack of quality, that they were unable to complete the revival in front of the incoming Remi Garde, but this feels like a different Spurs. Leaner, fitter and more mentally robust. This is a team that knows how to win.
The Sky Sports pundits all had a good chuckle about Gabby Agbonlahor’s somewhat undeveloped touch map in the studio, but in truth, it was more a symptom of Spurs’ total authority over the game, rather than the Villa striker’s ineffectiveness. As anonymous and, well, bad as he was. It’s awfully difficult to touch the ball if you’re nowhere near it.This in no small part was down to Christian Eriksen, who ran the show. It wasn’t an evening of fireworks or Vine-worthy highlights; no net-slapping free-kicks or first-time back-heeled layoffs, none of those moments which make you say oh well that’s just silly. Just efficient, commanding recycling of the ball. The heartbeat of the side.
Elsewhere, the Exciting Young Player Conveyor Belt looks to have popped out another gem as Josh Onomah made his first Premier League appearance for the club. He was buzzing on social media afterwards, as is the custom for young debutants these days. So might he have been after a self-assured cameo. Quite unfortunate not to get on the score sheet himself, after the Villa defence thoughtfully allowed him safe passage into a decent shooting position, he also played a vital role for the final, breakaway goal.
And what a first-rate piece of football pudding that was. A perfect attacking storm of Ben Davies, Onomah, Eriksen and the calm-of-thought Erik Lamela. Rounded-off with conviction by a resurgent Harry Kane. That was the composed finish of someone who’d filled his goal boots in the previous week. No tension or anxiety about what might happen if this goal-drought were to prolong any further, just the serene, Zen-like actions of man who remembered how uncomplicated this game can be. Welcome back, Harry.