Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0 (PL), Eriksen
Never mind the quality, feel the win. Without being anywhere near our incisive best, Spurs dominated Bournemouth, registering a first PL win at Wembley and consolidating 3rd place in the table.
As if to make his teammates’ point for them, Kane failed to score, leaving Eriksen upfront, and Lloris in goal, to make the decisive contributions in this match. One man team? This Spurs squad are the embodiment of ‘one for all, and all for one.’ I suspect that was Guardiola’s intention by referring to Spurs as the ‘Harry Kane team’. To try to niggle at the foundations of morale and selflessness that Pochettino has nurtured in his charges. I think Pep fears that for all Man City’s advantages, one area that Spurs outscore them is in our team ethic built up over the past 2-3 seasons.
Spurs v Bournemouth was the match with which this Blog started (Post 1), recording a 4-0 hammering last April as the cranes hovered over White Hart Lane in the Spring sunshine. Yesterday, Eddie Howe brought his cherry men to Wembley with the ambition of avoiding a similar drubbing. He set them up with a 5-man defence and a game plan that relied on Josh King’s pace and support runners to stretch Spurs back line.
It was one of those ‘close’ games that really shouldn’t have been. Spurs enjoyed 73% possession and outshot Bournemouth 18 to 5 (with 6 on target to 1), earning 9 corners to Bournemouth’s 5. With Ben Davies ill, Spurs lined up first half with Vertonghen at LB in a slightly lopsided 4-2-3-1. A shift in the second half produced an Eriksen goal (47’) and a handful of decent chances.
The Press have dug up a new one; ‘the Harry Kane Wembley Hoodoo’. Now that Spurs have their first PL home win, it’s been pointed out that Harry is one of only two strikers to fail to score in his first 4 home games of the season, despite scoring 6 PL goals overall. Fortunately, the only other player to do this was Alan Shearer! (Blackburn, 1993).
I can already hear it now. Next January, the press still clinging to their narrative. It’ll be ‘The Son Wembley hoodoo’. The first Korean with 3 letters in his name to miss with an overhead kick at Wembley under the floodlights. Or whatever.
But let’s be honest. Yesterday wasn’t a great display. We did enough but our play was a touch ponderous again, as it was earlier in the season, (discussed in my Post 31), before we loosened the shackles against West Ham, Apoel and Huddersfield. The international break had probably thrown our rhythm out. Maybe minds were distracted by Tuesday’s upcoming challenge in Madrid?
Fortunately, Lloris was in fine form, with one magnificent reflex save after a corner ricocheted off Dier’s shoulder. And Eriksen was superb throughout, finding the one moment of calm in the storm, to caress a left footer into the net. Vertonghen was imperious at the back. Winks was very good. Dele is struggling for his best form but still causes danger to opponents (not always visible to some of our fans). The defence was solid. Yesterday we had a line up missing not only Davies with illness, but Wanyama and Dembele from midfield, and long term absentees Rose and Lamela. Our bench of Vorm, Aurier, Foyth, Walker-Peters, Nkoudou, Sissoko and Llorente shows the multiple options that Pochettino would have with everybody fit.
It was nice to see Defoe get a run out and a great reception from Spurs fans; ‘Jermain Defoe, he’s a Y***O’ rang around the stadium. He had a decent shot well saved by Lloris’s outstretched foot. Everybody happy.
With 8 games played, Spurs are 3rd with a 5-2-1 record, 17 points, and a +10 goal difference. City have 22 points, United 20, Watford 15 (after beating Arsenal 2-1), Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all 13 points. It’s a real big week ahead. Madrid on Tuesday and Liverpool next Sunday. Can’t wait!