A post Europa League home game, coming from behind, Soldado scoring, pressing, securish defensively, hanging on in the dying minutes for the victory against Everton, Spurs found that gear and clicked into it.
It didn’t look that good, post Europa home games haven’t exactly gone well and while the visitors Everton have also suffered and had travelled midweek, unlike Spurs, they had a good victory over the then second placed team in Germany while Spurs struggled past Belgrade who had nothing to play for.
When the team came out there was a feeling that things wouldn’t go that well with an inexperienced midfield of Mason and the returning Bentaleb. Wasn’t too bothered about Mason in there but feel he needs someone of a better quality than Tim’s boy there passing it sideways.
It looked to be confirmed early on when Barkley went on a run, aided and abetted by some inept attempts at tackling by Bentaleb a few times and Mason a couple, before Hugo had to save the day.
Then the usual go a goal down happened. Initially partly cleared free-kick found it’s way to Mirrallas who curled a cracker past Hugo who had no hope.
From there you figured it’s down hill but that clicking into gear started to happen. Instead of the usual doldrums that brought more energy from Spurs, finally that pressing game. Epitomised by the newly emerging Lennon. Now he was on the right, thankfully, but we never really saw him play as a winger as such but he hared round like a blue arsed fly.
Now Baines might still have been getting over his recent injury but he wasn’t really seen while Lennon was on the park. The combination of the little winger getting back and Chiriches nullified one of Everton’s best weapons. No receiving the ball on the one-two into the box.
While that was going on Kane was picking the ball up and running at the old blokes in the visitor’s central defence. Now you can’t go into the rapturous state many were over Kane’s performance, yes it was decent enough but there was a lot of it that resembled Andros Townsend at his worst. Cul-de-sac running, heedlessly running into crowds when others were well placed to take a pass.
The equaliser came from one of those runs, just 6 minutes after Everton’s goal, some nice quick build up and he was off before a weak scuffer of a shot wasn’t held by Howard in goal and Eriksen brilliantly knock in the rebound. The little grin on his face as he was falling back and could see the ball heading into the net was a joy.
All hail the hair. Not so long ago it was looking like the hair was having the anti-Samson effect but Eriksen has been slowly getting into the season.
It certainly excited Pochettino.
There was some good play from Spurs, triangles, one touch, quickly forward – when Bentaleb wasn’t passing back or sideways – but Soldado wasn’t getting anything to feet, least nothing he hadn’t come deep for. While Kane was being a touch greedy. So the Spaniard had to make his own chances and he did so with a brilliant bit of anticipation. Knowing an Everton player was going to head back to goal he set off to cut the header out before it reached Howard, he did so but the finish didn’t come off.
Some then wondered what abuse, the thankfully absent, Adebayor would have got for such a miss. Oblivious to the fact that Adebayor would never have been there in the first place. Anticipation, Adebayor? He’d have been on his heels wide or deep, moping about without a care in the world.
Finally though Roberto got the ball he wanted the ball he needed.
Great work by Kane in dispossessing Barry – ludicrously claimed a foul by Martinez – Lennon charged forward and played the perfect ball to the Spaniard who did what those with a brain know what he can do. The joy was all around, Soldado, Pochettino, the bench, the rest of the players.
It happened just before the break and as they were going off Lloris joined in, congratulating Soldado and showing why he should have been picked for the club captain – role he was playing in this game with Kaboul out.
The second half was reasonably comfortable until Pochettino made another head scratching change on the hour taking Lennon off. Maybe he thought with Everton substituting Mirallas it was the right time but after the winger’s departure Everton saw a lot more of the ball. When Chiriches left just 10 minutes later holding out for that last 20 minutes looked a more dodgy prospect.
That last 20 was classic Spurs, hanging on for dear life, just waiting for the equaliser. Lloris making saves and then getting away with a penalty shout. Most right minded people said no penalty when the ball it Fazio’s arm. Martinez was the odd man out. Wonder what he would have said if it was given against Jagielka.
For all the misgivings about Fazio starting he pretty much kept Lukaku out of sight for most of the game, along with a strong performance from Vertonghen. The latter happy not to be flanked by Kaboul and Rose?
Spurs of course had their penalty shout turned down as Besic tangled with Kane in the box.
In the end it didn’t matter and the whistle went, leaving the home fans satisfied by a Sunday evening game like never before. A game that bar the final 20 flew by. It was helped by the fact both teams wanted to play, one didn’t just sit back with a flat back ten. The visitors though had most of the ball, two thirds, but it felt more fifty fifty than the that.
It also felt good coming from behind, yet again, but this time not needed an opponent sent off and against a team of a higher calibre than Villa or Hull. Best performance of the season at home, some say Soldado’s best game, don’t know last season at home to Southampton when he bossed Lovren could have been his best.