WBA (H) JAN 14th - 1230 KO

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I'm as encouraged by this win over WBA as I was after Chavs.​

In the past we've struggled at home when teams park the bus. And alot of the time, when we've had good "stats" for shots on target, they're not what I would call good chances.

Yesterday the past master at shutting up shop came to town, with a 6 man back 4 (?), instructions to waste time from the off, and let's play for corners and free kicks (where they are World Champions at scoring, and where we're pretty good at conceding). And then got utterly destroyed.

Right from the start we were creating really good chances. It's not often that a team loses 4-0 and their best player is the keeper. 6-0 wouldn't have flattered us, against the team in 8th.

And we didn't concede a single corner. Another really, really professional performance, and an exhilarating one too. I can just about ignore that my Central Heating hasn't worked since Friday morning.
 
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It's no coincidence that our form has massively improved since Eriksens did.

Would have thought that was fucking obvious.

Would suggest that the anti-Erikseners haven't got a bloody clue
To borrow a phrase, he is the straw that stirs the drink. I think Eriksen, Kane and Toby are the most critical players on the team, or the most irreplaceable, whichever you like.
 
Mauricio Pochettino and the Tottenham swarm
On Saturday, Sarah Winterburn quite reasonably asked whether Tottenham had the best XI in the Premier League. I’m going to ask a slightly different version of that question: Do Tottenham have the XI capable of producing the most complete performance? I’m going to answer it too: On current evidence, yes.

When Tottenham click, they are a force like no other. Ask Manchester City, humbled in October. Ask Chelsea, brushed aside a week ago. Ask West Brom, eviscerated in potentially the most complete performance of the lot. Spurs had 21 shots and allowed only three. They registered 73% possession and yet were never vulnerable to the counter-attack. Anyone who accuses me of praising a team for only beating West Brom should go back and watch that display. There was nothing the opposition could do.

West Brom have been Tottenham’s bogey team in recent seasons, but were blown away by an attacking performance that started with the central defenders and ended with Harry Kane’s magic right boot. Competent defenders like Gareth McAuley were made to look like bumbling amateurs. Spurs did not allow West Brom either a shot on target or corner, restricting them to a 58% first-half passing accuracy that reflected a team clearing the ball anywhere just to temporarily stem the tide.

“When you play against such a good team like Tottenham they punish you,” said Pulis after the game. “And they punished us. Today we were off it and they deserve all the credit – full stop.”

Tottenham do indeed punish you. More than any other team in the Premier League, they can swarm over you like a line of army ants destroying anything in their path. The central defenders are rock solid, the full-backs the best in the league, the attacking midfielders full of energy without the ball and full of invention with it and the striker on top of his game again. Even more than Chelsea seven points above them, if Tottenham play to their full potential nobody can stop them. Chelsea have the edge on consistency.

Even if Hugo Lloris had conceded every shot on target he faced in the last four league games, Spurs would still have taken 10 points from a possible 12. In their last eight they have created 127 chances, 23 more than their nearest rival and 50 more than Chelsea. They have had 61 shots on target, 13 more than their nearest rival and 24 more than Manchester City. They have faced only 18 shots on target, two fewer than their nearest rival and 13 fewer than Woolwich. By any measure, they are the team in form.

While both Sarah and I asked questions regarding the ability of the players, the obvious answer is that it is Pochettino playing the role of teacher to perfection. While the star pupils receive adoration and adulation, the Argentinean smiles to himself and prepares lesson plans for the next week. They are gauche comparisons, but Tottenham’s XI against West Brom cost £7m less in transfer fees than one Paul Pogba.

This is not to label Tottenham as title favourites, or to mark any mission as accomplished. They may have won seven matches on the spin by an aggregate of 21-3, but this is an unforgiving race for top-four places and title glory. Spurs only have the sixth best away record in the league, and face Manchester City and Liverpool in two of their next three on the road.

Yet the astonishing thing is that Tottenham are here at all, ahead of the Manchester clubs on merit. They tailed away last season, beset by fatigue, and yet vowed to work even harder. The majority of their players took part in major tournaments last summer (where most of them failed), and yet are full of bounce again. They flunked in the Champions League, and yet it made them stronger domestically. They bought badly in the summer, and yet the squad looks more complete.

The starting XIs of the top six clubs this weekend contained 30 players bought for more than £15m How many did Tottenham contribute to that number? None.

Harry Kane
Now 22 goals in his last 26 league starts, and a hat-trick in the week that his partner gave birth to their first child. Since the start of 2015, the list of Premier League goalscorers reads as follows:

Harry Kane – 54
Sergio Aguero – 47
Romelu Lukaku – 34
Diego Costa – 33
Jamie Vardy – 33
Alexis Sanchez – 33
Olivier Giroud – 32
Jermain Defoe – 31

He actually is real, and he actually is really good.

Christian Eriksen
Eriksen is often the first Tottenham player to be criticised and the last to be praised, his languid demeanour mis-selling him as an uncomfortable fit within Pochettino’s pressing army. I’m biased because he’s one of my favourite players to watch, but this might just be the best run of form of Eriksen’s career. In his last eight games, the Dane has created 32 chances, four more than any other player in the league and 15 ahead of any teammate.

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose
Over that same eight-game period, the list of the top 25 chance creators in the Premier League contains only three full-backs. No prizes for guessing the identity of the top two.
 
We don't have the unique players (Hoddle being the greatest in my time) we've had in many squads, but I think this could be/become the best all round team I've seen.
One or two exceptions. As a very young kid, my Uncle took me to my first ever game. He had to carry me on his shoulders the whole game as i couldn't see over the wall!

 

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One or two exceptions. As a very young kid, my Uncle took me to my first ever game. He had to carry me on his shoulders the whole game as i couldn't see over the wall!

Great footage. Was that your first ever game?

I agree with Paul G post. Imo our strength is more the team, and therefore that we are more than the sum of our parts. Sure, Dele Ali is an unbelievable talent, and an even more unbelievable prospect. I can see Real making a stupid bid for him.

But the rest? Rose and Walker for instance - they would need to play in the current system(s) to get the best out of them. Walker in a traditional back 4 where you defend first and foremost like a Gary Neville - well it's not really him is it? Dier is a great team player, but hardly a Worldie CB/RB/DM. Wanyama anywhere "bigger"? Can't see it. Even Kane, with that great record; I still think alot of big clubs think it's a flash in the pan, somehow that this rather ungainly forward with a big arse and not much pace will get found out by defenders and isnt worth the risk.

I'm really encouraged; it doesnt look like a Bale situation all over again, and helped by the fact that we are alot better than even 2,3,4 years ago. I think of Nottingham Forest under Clough, who built teams in the main from misfits and the academy. The big moves to the galacticos of Utd just didnt work for Birtles and others. Once they were away from City Ground a lot of them could look pretty average.

And theyre so young! This lot are only going to get better, they might not peak for 4 years or so. I'm pinching myself! (Ow)
 
Great footage. Was that your first ever game?

I agree with Paul G post. Imo our strength is more the team, and therefore that we are more than the sum of our parts. Sure, Dele Ali is an unbelievable talent, and an even more unbelievable prospect. I can see Real making a stupid bid for him.

But the rest? Rose and Walker for instance - they would need to play in the current system(s) to get the best out of them. Walker in a traditional back 4 where you defend first and foremost like a Gary Neville - well it's not really him is it? Dier is a great team player, but hardly a Worldie CB/RB/DM. Wanyama anywhere "bigger"? Can't see it. Even Kane, with that great record; I still think alot of big clubs think it's a flash in the pan, somehow that this rather ungainly forward with a big arse and not much pace will get found out by defenders and isnt worth the risk.

I'm really encouraged; it doesnt look like a Bale situation all over again, and helped by the fact that we are alot better than even 2,3,4 years ago. I think of Nottingham Forest under Clough, who built teams in the main from misfits and the academy. The big moves to the galacticos of Utd just didnt work for Birtles and others. Once they were away from City Ground a lot of them could look pretty average.

And theyre so young! This lot are only going to get better, they might not peak for 4 years or so. I'm pinching myself! (Ow)

Twas my first ever game, and afterwards my Uncle took me to a pub (cannot remember where) and there was Greaves & Co having a beer and a smoke. Looking back it was quite surreal to see them talking among the fans.
 

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