winning and actually playing?
Spurs third game after the World Cup break finally saw them come away with three points after not actually going behind at any time in the game for the first time in 12 games, in all competitions.
It was the first time Spurs hadn’t conceded two in nine league games and say a reversal of the norm but actually didn’t need them conceding a goal to kick them into life.
The first two games after the World Cup saw the usual pattern from Spurs, well the first saw the full pattern, the second missed out on the important bit, for Spurs. Both games saw Spurs start slow and listless, go two behind. Brentford saw a comeback, the Villa game saw that listlessness continue to the final whistle and for once no comeback, not even a consolation.
Against Palace they started a lot better than usual. Actually going forward, with purpose, a bit of pressing on the opposition, things we have not seen from the first whistle. It started with Skipp running forward, into the box, with the ball, it probably ended with Skipp giving the ball away easily, later on.
Yup, it didn’t last ad soon they were back to that lifeless, ineptitude that has plagued the early part of nearly every game this season. For the second time they in a row didn’t go into the break at least a goal down. Against Villa that was seen as a sign of progress, what followed in the second half wasn’t, as they conceded twice.
It was a different against Palace as all of a sudden they kicked into life, just minute after the restart. It started with Gil, in for the injured Kulusevski – will we ever see him again? I mean it was just a minor injury which normally means months out once he gets in the clutches of the Spurs medical team – he’s slight, he’s no Kulu at the mo but he shows some good touches. Just wish he’d back himself a bit more, number of times he stops and looks back instead of just getting on with it. He passed it out to Perisic who stood up the perfect cross for Kane to nod home.
Where had that cross been before, why don’t we see it more often and why didn’t we really see it again in this game?
It was Gil’s Kulusevskiesque ball through two defenders, into the box, that set Kane up for his second five minutes later.
It was Kane’s 198th goal in his 300th Premier League appearance. Third on the all time list, he is now just 10 goals off Wayne Rooney in second place, having played 191 fewer games. 62 behind the current record holder, Alan Shearer, having played 141 games fewer. It was a hell of a finish from Kane.
One of the problems in the previous two games and the first half of this was Spurs playing with just two central midfielders, while the opposition formation meant they had an extra man in the. When they don’t have the creativity then playing against that extra man blocks up the chance to go forward. It was Skipp and Hojbjerg here, Bissouma in the previous games. Sarr replaced Skipp not long after the hour and had a pretty damn good last 30 minutes.
This has seemingly changed Conte’s mind about the two youngsters, Gil and Sarr, maybe we’ll see more of ’em. It’ll have emboldened Levy not to spend this January, like two new signings.
After scoring two Kane was in providing mood, as he played Son in but as per the Korean was finding the ball under his feet, his attempted cross was even worse than his control and general play all game, all season, as the ball luckily rebounded to Doherty to knock in the third.
Now Doherty’s not been the greatest for Spurs but how Conte has repeatedly picked Emerson Royal ahead of him is beyond bizarre. And along with much more is one of those things you can lay squarely at Conte’s door for the failings so far this season.
There was time for one more. Palace, so bad even Sonny scored. Nice nod down from Kane, from a long ball, to Gil, who tapped it back to Kane who lofted the ball onto Son, who fought for the ball and as it fell for him took a first time shot – so as to not get the ball tangled in his feet – and banged home only his fourth of the season. The first in a game he’s started.
“This could kick start his season” say the people who were saying that same thing after his off the bench hat-trick way back in the middle of September. 17 games ago.
If Conte were to put another body in the midfield, should it be Son that makes way? I know there’s always that caveat of class and form but it seems no coincidence that his best performance this season, came when he was benched and had a point to prove when coming on.
So it’s a win as Spurs lie two points behind Newcastle, who we were told were title chasers just a couple of days ago. And there’s the rub. Newcastle are playing as well as they can and are two points ahead. Arsenal are playing the best they can and are 11 points ahead. Spurs have been rubbish all season. Those two, there’s only one real direction, now if Spurs could actually put a whole game together and go on a decent run.
But can they. Can they take that second half performance and do that for a full 90 minutes. Play forward, play with intent and pace? Not sit back and let the other side dominate them?
And if they can do it, then why haven’t they…