Slay the Beast

Post 29

Everton 0 Spurs 3

I’ve been super-busy so I’m just slipping this post in here before tonight’s match against Dortmund. Hopefully my two sons, who are going to Wembley without me, will post a ‘guest article’ here in the coming days.

The Everton match saw us start to kick into 3rd gear after a slow start to the season. We’re now 5th with a 2-1-1 record, 7 points, and a +4 goal difference. United and City are joint top (10 points), Chelsea 3rd (9) and Watford 4th (8). With Liverpool also on 7 points now and Arsenal on 6, the Table is already starting to look just as everybody expected.

Kane scored twice; the first a touch fortunate, the second clinical, with an Eriksen goal sandwiched in between (Kane 28 & 46 minutes, Eriksen 42). There was a sense of momentum and movement in our game that hasn’t been there in our matches against Newcastle, Chelsea and Burnley.

So far this season, Vertonghen and Eriksen have been our standout performers. Lloris has been okay but isn’t at his best. Alderweireld looks a touch distracted (contract talks?), with two yellow cards to date, but even below his best he’s still top drawer. Davies had the freedom of the left flank versus Everton and used it well. He’ll never be Danny Rose but he’s a more than solid member of our team and squad.

Davinson Sanchez came in at the centre of our back-3 and looked as if he’d been playing PL for a season already: composed, tough, dominant in the air and no-nonsense on the ground, taking the simple option pass-wise. Superb. No doubt our optimism tempts fate (he’ll make a few big mistakes) but over the next few seasons we’ll have a gem. I look forward to his first thunderous headed goal from a set piece.

The concern is Trippier. He’s a very likable guy and committed player. Not Walker’s size or pace but he brings different skills and more creativity. It just looks like he’s not quite on his game yet. As if the transition from being Walker’s back-up, to first choice, to Walker’s departure, to Aurier’s arrival has discombobulated him. The next few weeks should provide more clarity on how Poch intends to use our 3 RB’s: Aurier, Trippier, Walker-Peters.

Wanyama is out injured and needs time to get into form (his performance v Chelsea was dire). Dier looked more than comfortable in the DM role against Everton. Again, how Poch intends to use / rotate Dier, Dembele, Wanyama and Winks will be interesting, according to formation, opposition and Dembele’s available minutes. My preference is the ‘Dierbele’ axis against most teams (with Winks coming off the bench) and Wanyama used when we play more conservatively or as a single ‘destroyer’. But, frankly, they’ll all get a lot of minutes during the course of this season (barring any enforced time out with injuries).

I rate Poch’s opinion much more highly than our noisy fanbase’s. There’s a reason Sissoko wasn’t loaned or sold. I’m not saying we wouldn’t have, if we could have, got £30m for him. But that aside, I still think he was originally bought for a purpose. Last season was a disaster and a write-off. He lost confidence, form and, perhaps, motivation. Against Everton he seemed to have regained all those things. His first touch is still pretty abysmal for a French international and PL player. But he has pace, power and most other things that a dynamic AM needs. Through the middle or out wide? We’ll see. But I remember how Lamela was written off after his first season and then everybody learned to love him. Maybe the same will happen to Sissoko.

Up front, Eriksen has been magnificent, Dele somehow distracted (like Alderweireld?) and Kane has been … well, Kane. We measure Harry by his goals but he brings so much more than those to the team (and England). He is, literally, ‘Roy of the Rovers’; clean cut, incredibly hard working, never-say-die, target man, role model, creator, dribbler and scorer. Oh, and dad, husband and golfer too. The more that him beating Shearer’s PL goal record is talked about, the better. It makes Harry less like to go to Spain. And I really can’t see him going to another English club (unless THFC, DL, MP, our fans piss him off royally – hopefully not gonna happen).

On the other hand, I’d have to rate Dele as much more likely to go. Later or sooner. To Spain, perhaps PSG, possibly even up north. He’s a different person to Kane. Nobody can blame him. He’s probably got ‘advisors’ buzzing in his ear (‘super-agents’ rumoured to be circling). As far as we know he’s still on £50,000 per week, contracted until 2022. And that’s already the third contract he’s signed since he joined us. I think we’ll have to treble that figure by next summer to keep him. We can afford to do that but the question is, will Levy and Poch do it? Fortunately, there are still months to go before things will come to a head. There’s a whole season and a World Cup ahead.

Missing three of our six CL Group games might actually help him. For one, they’ll remind him to keep his temper in check. And he’ll only be playing once a week, not twice, until November. He started this season scoring and should have bagged another against Everton. But there’s still something ‘missing’ (even for England) in his play. He just hasn’t quite hit the sublime heights of the second half of last season yet. He doesn’t look as mentally ‘on it’ as he was last May.

And Sonny of the broken forearm. We’ll see him tonight. He’s been eased back gently. Like Kane, one senses it’s as much his personality that he brings to the squad as his actual play on the pitch; that smile, the silly handshakes, whether off-the-bench or starter, fast feet, pace, goals, assists, Korean role model and one-man Asian marketing campaign. Our ‘Sonaldo’.

Kane and Son are our Batman and Robin, with Lloris cast as Commissioner Gordon. They define the three sides of our squad; superhero, smiley and yet serious.

With Rose and Lamela back, Llorente as Plan B (also enabling a 4-4-1-1 formation with Kane in the hole), our new signings and academy prospects, we have a team and squad to challenge for trophies yet again.

Tonight I expect us to take the game to Dortmund (who have 6-7 injuries, yet are still formidable) but, obviously, keeping it tight at the back; probably a 3-4-2-1 similar to our Everton line-up, but with Aurier, Dembele and Son in for Trippier, Sissoko and Dele respectively.

So: Lloris – Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen – Aurier, Dier, Dembele, Davies – Eriksen, Son, Kane.

COYS: let’s slay this Wembley beast tonight

And over to you boys!

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