Maurico Pochettino was worried about the league visit of Swansea to White Hart Lane and he was right to be so, it was all set up to see the return of the Spursy.
He was right, this did have a return to the old Spurs written all over it, especially with the way Spurs went about things early on.
A visiting side with only one win since the beginning of the year, and not many since their good start to the season in August in fact, so fighting a relegation battle, Spurs coming off a Europa League game on Thursday – though a victory and didn’t involve any travel – and while it was going on a near challenger ws dropping points, a situation in which Spurs would never normally take advantage.
When the visiting ‘keeper, who has previously earned the nickname Flapianski, started to do his Tim Krul impersonation, it looked like a return of that old Spurs. The return of “one of those days”.
Especially when they went ahead, during that nothing opening 20 minutes.
They probably should have been ahead already had it not been for an outstanding save from Hugo – who as he doesn’t get to play Spurs does this time and again for his career highlight reel. It was Gylfi Sigurdsson who had the shot so maybe things weren’t going to be that Spursy if the ex was being denied.
From Gilfi’s corner, Spurs dropped off a bit, while Swansea got some luck as a deflection kinda stopped Hugo in his tracks and allowed Paloschi in to score. Before this and after Fabianski was keeping Spurs out. Stops from Lamela, Kane, Dier, Son and Eriksen’s free kicks.
Now recently Spurs have gone through a period of sloppy seconds. Second halves where they haven’t managed the intensity of the first and allowed the opposition into it. Here things were different, Pochettino obviously given the right amount of stick during the break for them to come out even more fired up.
But while some of the better chances in the first half came from balls played in from wide the second half saw everything cramped up in a space the width of the 18 yard box. If you’re going to play the Bielsa way and have the fullbacks playing pretty much as wingers they have to play as wingers.
While Rose was for the most part doing his job on the left – though he still wasn’t as great as everyone made out, some good crosses, some lollygaging in defence – Walker was being his doltish self. Time and again he’d bomb forward at pace, Spurs on a good break, only to stop, let the defence reorganise and then pass back.
The praise meted out for him came from I don’t know where, seemingly his aimless hit that led to the equaliser. Rose’s pile-driver shot was tipped over by Fabianski, from the resulting corner we saw the return of Flapianski as he bunch a ball he could quite easily have caught. Walker picked it up and just hit the ball anywhere – not a cross, not a shot – where the substitute Chadli opened his body and guided the ball in.
Spurs of old and you’d think the equaliser wasn’t coming but this time it felt like it was, not only that it felt like once the equaliser came then the winner would surely follow. It took less than 10 minutes for it to do so.
Surging into the box, Eriksen got another corner out of Swansea, which the defender headed just outside the box to the advancing Rose, a step into the box and well he scuffed it into the ground and it bounced past Fabianski. From the celebrations you could tell, this was the winner.
Yes Hugo had another save to make it sure, it could also have been made sure with a late third but Walker ran offside when he had no need but then that would have required some brain activity.
This really was a banana skin waiting for Spurs, a game where they thought they could relax and take it easy, which in the past they would have done and it would have bitten them badly. But this isn’t your Spursy Spurs, this is a Pochettino Spurs… but there’s still 11 games to go…