Teams all around Spurs, fighting for that fourth spot, lost at the weekend, leaving the door open for Spurs to go all Spursy against Aston Villa… but they didn’t.
Being the late game on Saturday, Spurs had seen Man United, Woolwich and Wolves all lose before they kicked off – Wet Spam would lose on Sunday – though they tried, they didn’t as if Conte wouldn’t allow it.
For the first half, bar two things, Spurs did their best to be Spursy and blow this opportunity to move further away from those chasing the final Champions League place. Sitting back and fannying about, they let Villa get on top and get at ’em.
Those two things I mentioned were important though, so important they stopped this being Spursy. While Villa had the best half they’d seen since Gerrard took over – according to himself and various tweets from Villa fans – they went behind early and Hugo decided to be Pat Jennings rather than Barry Daines.
That goal came just three minutes in, against the run of play. It came from a piece of play that was more reminiscent of what followed after the break, which finished Villa off, rather than the fannying about which invited Villa on in the first half. Dier launched the ball up to the Villa box, the defender weakly nodded it back to Kane, his shot was heading well wide before rebounding off another defender to Son in the box, he swung and smashed the ball into the net.
The other thing was Hugo’s performance. It seemed like a one man Spurs team in that fist half. Hugo versus Villa, as he made save after save. It was like the complete Spursy reversal. Tonight Matthew, it was Hugo who was going to be Tim Krul.
One final one just before the break from Coutinho’s free-kick was a real game saver. Score there and who knows what the second half was like but with Spurs going in with a lead, you felt another, on the break with the home side pushing forward, would just deflate them. Spurs needed that second. It came 5 minutes after the break.
It was a little later than usual, as there was a few breaks in the first half, meaning there was plenty of added time. Most of it due to the thuggish behaviour of the Villa players, who were given a free pass by the inept officials. Doherty departing 20 minutes in, a little while after a crunching tackle that’ll see him miss the rest of the season but wasn’t deemed worthy of a card.
But that second goal, it again came from a touch of route one – not a bad tactic when it works as well as it did here – Hugo launches the ball up the park, Kane nods it down to Kulusevski he takes it into the box, past a challenge, looks to nothing on… he’s scored. Well Paratici got this one right. He’s a proper addition to the front line. In half the game time he’s got more goals and assists than Moura. Where Moura has pace, Kulusevski has an end product and some pace.
That was it. No matter that Villa still tried to attack, I just felt that Spurs wouldn’t Spursy this. It’s an odd feeling. Conte sent them out in the second half and he wouldn’t allow them to play like they did in that first. So the fannying about was gone and it was get the ball to the guys that can do the damage and with Villa attacking there was the space to exploit.
The third was in carbon copy territory. Romero this time launching it, but Kane’s header on was a thing of beauty, looking around he knew where Son was and where Son was going, even though Son was behind him, headed nodded it on perfectly for Son to hit it past the keeper.
The fourth diverted from the script, but kept it’s element of beauty. As Spurs played the ball through Villa until Kulusevski turned Mings inside out then crossed to Son who banged it in off the post for his hat-trick.
Last game Spurs needed to win by two clear goals to go fourth, they scored five with a four goal deficit. This time they needed to win to keep ahead and they got it. As the goal difference keeps getting better, as the top scorers in 2022, Son being the top scorer in the league if you discount penalties – and to think he hasn’t actually been at his sharpest this season – Kane, Son and Kulusevski feature in the top five players with goal involvements this year, while Spurs have picked up the most points, bar the top two, since Conte’s arrival.
At the moment.. this ain’t your dad’s Spurs…