Sunday, 29 December 2013

Spurs 3-0 Stoke City, 29th Dec 2013


For the first time this season I, and probably everyone around me, and probably in the whole ground, and up and down the Tottenham High Road, actually enjoyed a Spurs performance. Astonishing that it has taken half a season and a sacking to achieve.

The stats really are quite remarkable and are looking very good for Tim Sherwood. AVB had failed to get Spurs to score three goals in a single game this season, yet Tim Sherwood has now managed it twice in just three games. His first three games.

It's as if that little old lady who only knew where the brake was has been replaced by someone who knows where the accelerator is and suddenly slammed down hard on it.

Two up front? Dont mind if I do. AVB wouldn't dare entertain such a notion. Yet Sherwood immediately switches to it, goes his three games unbeaten and has the onion bag overflowing to boot. Many of us have been saying two up front for a while now, but you do have to be blown away as to how quickly the change in formation has turned around the results.

There will of course be those who say that Spurs have played poor opposition, and to a certain extent that will be true. Southampton have been on a downward slide, West Brom are managerless and Stoke had to accommodate having two players sent off in their last game.

But on the flipside AVB's Spurs were losing against teams who were just as bad or worse, the 3-0 reverse at home to West Ham who were utilising exactly zero strikers at the time being a prime example.

Sherwood's opening three games can boast some impressive stats... seven points out of nine, seven goals in three games, three goals in two of those games, all of which highly doubtful that this would have been achieved under AVB.

Stoke's squad featured three ex-Spurs players in Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios and Matthew Etherington. On (AVB's?) recent form they could perhaps even have merited a place back in the Spurs side.

But today's performance was a massive improvement on what's been served up in recent times and was easily the best we've seen at home this season. From the start Spurs dominated and most of the time Hugo Lloris in goal was able to enjoy the action instead of taking part in it.

Again Emmanuel Adebayor was arguably Spurs' best player. When he plays well he isn't just one of the best players on the pitch, he's usually the best player on it. This of course has split Spurs fans about him, mostly in the past now, as he has always had the ability but not bothered to show it. Hopefully his excellent form will continue and he's not just showing off himself for the upcoming transfer window. It would be far better and easier for all concerned if he keeps up this form instead of him moving on and trying to settle in elsewhere and Spurs having to get someone else in.

I hate to say it but Spurs looked far more accomplished in the middle without Lewis Holtby there, and with Moussa Dembele back in. No one can complain about Holtby's passion and work rate but almost everything he tries fails to come off and little is geared around a team move. 

Dembele's return was even capped with an excellent goal, a typical one from him, searching for a gap near the edge of the area and letting loose with a low powerful shot that Stoke's Sorensen couldn't get anywhere near to.

That followed Roberto Soldado's opening penalty that was brilliantly won by the influential Adebayor. He had somehow managed to get a volleyed shot in from a Soldado cross that would have gone past lesser players and was then hand-balled by Ryan Shawcross. Soldado likes to see which way the keeper goes and has scored every penalty he's been asked to take care of in all competitions this season.

While Roberto Soldado is still waiting to start banging 'em in en masse though, and should really have bagged a hat-trick today, his extra curricular play in and around the area is a highly positive thing for Spurs to have. He contributes immensely off the ball, far more than most forwards you will see. You can't help but be glad to see that his partnership with Adebayor has much to do with the sudden increase in goals for Spurs, especially as two of the goals today came indirectly from his crosses. 

The welcome third goal came from the ever popular Aaron Lennon. His energetic performance was rewarded by a nice finish after another Soldado cross was almost accidentally cut out by Adebayor.

No one had a bad game and while Stoke were poor, in the recent past Spurs have managed to lose these type of games. Zeki Fryers and Kyle Naughton both came in at the back, and Vladimir Chiriches managed to barely put a foot wrong all game.

Paulhinho is slowly starting to show what he can do, and seems to be better enjoying his role under Sherwood. He was acting as a part midfielder part forward under AVB but playing in his proper midfield position means he can contribute far more to the team. You can probably buy Paulhinho's showboating DVD at the end of the season. 

A few days ago Christian Eriksen scored from a fantastic free kick against West Brom but today his free kick taking wasn't on the same level. His overall contribution though would have been missed had he not been playing.

And that was it really, a much better performance mainly down to better organisation, structure and form. The players at last seemed to know their jobs, their positions, their responsibilities. Such was Kyle Naughton's contribution at right back, easily slotting in as he did, that the usual incumbent Kyle Walker was hardly missed.

By the way, is it time for Kyle Walker to be given the captaincy? Perhaps that is a discussion for another time and place. 

The three goals, the performance and the possible return of Fortress White Hart Lane is what Spurs is all about, and been missing for far too long now. The players are being allowed to play their normal game again which is a good thing.

Upcoming games away to Man U and then Arsenal in the FA Cup would have been almost written off under the previous regime, under the previous thinking, under the previous way of doing things. But with a few wins under his belt, Sherwood's Spurs now have a chance of surprising us all. It may happen, it may not, but before, that chance would not really have been available to us.

So bon chance Tim Sherwood. If the honeymoon is soon to be over, you'll have earned the right to roll your up sleeves, show what you can really do and carry on as you are.

Come on You Spurs! 

Follow me on Twitter at @BruceEJLewis

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