Bournemouth 1 Spurs 4 (PL, 11.03.2018)
Swansea 0 Spurs 3 (FAC, 17.03.2018)
Spurs have bounced back from our CL exit with 2 comfortable away wins. In doing so, Poch revealed a ‘Plan B’ designed to cope without Kane. Instead of bringing on Llorente as the nearest option Spurs have to a like-for-like switch, Poch opted for Lamela and a buzzing quartet of tricky forwards.
I conceived this Blog a year ago when I anticipated an easier life of semi-retirement. In fact, the opposite has happened. Finding the time to write up my thoughts immediately after a game’s finished has been impossible.
An advantage that delay allows is time to see results in context. We went into our second leg against Juventus on a 17 match unbeaten run. We lost the 18th game, unluckily, to a hardened European beast. We’ve since responded with 2 wins and are now on a run of that 1 defeat in 20 matches. We’re in the Top 4 and the FA Cup semi-finals. Not bad for a Season away from our home.
Bournemouth came at us hard, testing our hangover, and for 10 minutes we did indeed look groggy. They hit the crossbar and then, after only 7 minutes, Stanislas scored. The turning point, ironically, was an injury to Kane, injuring his right ankle in the act of scoring an offside goal past Begovic.
Lamela came on and it was as if everybody else decided, ‘Harry’s off, we’d better step up’. Dele, Son, Lamela and Eriksen used clever movement, interplay and our press to bamboozle a Bournemouth defence set up to contain Kane. Goals from Dele (35), Son (62, 87) and Aurier (91) gave us a win that sounds more comfortable than it was.
Stats-wise we had 63% possession but only 12 shots (to 14) off which 8 were on target (v 3), 5 corners to 4. We moved up to 3rd in the table on 61 points (from 30 games), 1 point ahead of Liverpool and 4 behind Man United.
Six days later, we enjoyed a more comfortable stroll in the cold, as we travelled to Wales for the Saturday lunchtime Quarter Final. A fitness test for Dele resulted in him sitting on the bench. Poch selected Son as a false-9, with Lamela, Eriksen and Moura arrayed behind him, like a triple-headed hydra, another version of Plan B. Again, our movement, interplay and creativity proved too much for the home defence. Two goals from Eriksen (11, 62) and Lamela (45) reflected our dominance on the scoreboard. Stats-wise it was even more comprehensive; 75-25% possession, 25 shots to 3, 11 on target v 2, 14 corners to 1.
Eriksen’s first was a beauty, as he ran from the halfway line before curling a left footer into their net. Then Lamela proved he has a right leg, with a similarly neat finish using his weaker foot. Son scored a lovely goal given offside by the linesman and, although referred to VAR, too close for the decision to be changed. We could have scored more but the final half an hour was played in 3rd gear.
The critical moment was a double save by Vorm at the start of the second half. He dived to save a crisp volley and then recovered to catch the headed rebound. If Swansea had pulled back to 2-1 then, it might have given them the belief to fight back. After that save, any hope visibly drained from them. Llorente came on for a run out late on.
So we now have an international break. A chance of Kane to recover. And Chelsea in the PL on Sunday 1st April.