#wwwwdwwwww was a favoured trending topic of Tottenham fans on Saturday evening. An excellent run of form that began at the beginning of September following a 2-0 win over Wolves, it is now 10 games unbeaten in the Premiership and a run that has catapulted the North London giants up to third in the table, just two points off second placed Manchester United.
It makes for pleasant reading, made all the better after a disastrous start to the season. And while the 4-0 win over Liverpool, the 2-1 victory against Arsenal and the routine three points picked up in the 2-0 home win over Aston Villa was excellent to watch, both live and on TV, it was Spurs’ recent 3-1 win over West Brom that had got us salivating with expectation and optimism.
Heading into the game, fans were speculating as to what the starting XI would be. With Rafael Van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe both doubtful, many were expecting a 4-2-3-1 with Sandro slotting in alongside Scott Parker in the middle of the park and Luka Modric moved up to support Emmanuel Adebayor, in a frighteningly attack quartet that involved Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale.
Then when word got out the Modric was ruled out trough illness, a daunting away encounter suddenly became a whole lot harder. With Van der Vaart missing, Defoe was, thankfully, cleared to play. But, with two of Spurs’, arguably, best players certain to miss out, many had lost the confidence that been rising since the win over Wolves three months prior. The Hawthorns was a stadium Harry Redknapp’s side hadn’t picked up a win at since 2002, when Robbie Keane still donned the number 22 shirt.
The first-half was awful, no cohesion in the midfield saw Youssef Mulumbu absolutely dominate proceedings in the opening 45 and the Congolese international should have scored more than just the one he headed in after just 10 minutes. His header was an epitome of their over-powering first-half compared to Spurs’ lacklustre one. Fortunately, both teams went in level, Adebayor hitting the equaliser 15 minutes after the opening goal.
I don’t know what Redknapp said at half-time, and I don’t think we ever will, but whatever he told the players did the job. Spurs came out and after being stuck in neutral for much of the opening encounters, suddenly they kicked it up a notch to really demonstrate their capabilities as top four contenders.
Defoe began dropping deep to pick up Mulumbu, whose impact began to be stifled in the second half while Parker edging further forward of Sandro began to limit the creative influence of James Morrison and Chris Brunt. It was wonderful to see Spurs roll their sleeves up and dig deep when the going got tough. Not like the teams of old who, having gone in half-time, cold and under-pressure, would have simply rolled over and allowed West Brom the chance once again to take the initiative.
It was as if every player developed a Parker-esc mentality about them, working hard for each other and doing so to maximum effect. Adebayor continues to impress, when it comes to defending from the front, any football fan would be hard-pressed to find a better striker than the Togolese striker. Popping up almost everywhere in the opponents half, causing havoc on the Baggies back-four, is something that the former on-loan forward has never demonstrated before and it is clearly evident he is thoroughly enjoying his time at White Hart Lane.
His willingness to drift out wide or drop deep to collect the ball has seen Defoe really up his game once more and when the former drifts out of the centre to receive a pass, the latter relishes the space left for him to do what he does best; score goals. Was anyone surprised to see the duo link up so perfectly for the second goal? I doubt it, it’s as if the two have developed a rapport almost instantly. Finally, with the game almost at an end, Adebayor popped up with his second, and Spurs’ third, to win a very, very important three points.
Watching the players after the game, it was clear they had worked their socks off for the win and it was thoroughly deserved following a rampant second half performance. And it was the performances of each and every player that made a vast majority of Spurs fans stand up and applaud what had been a fantastic display.
For starters, the closeness and togetherness of the team was viewed throughout the encounter. When one player faltered, another was there to pick him up. When something went right, a team-mate was there to ensure they got the praise they deserved. And it is this new-found mentality that has helped the excellent push up the league.
Digging deeper than ever before has contributed massively to the upturn in fortunes and, for us a To the Lane and Back, that can only be down to one player; Super Scotty Parker. Women love him, men want to be him and, with a combover like his, it is hardly surprising PNB has developed such monumental rapport with the Spurs faithful already. His workman like attitude, his grit, his determination, his tenacity, it all rubs off on the team and while I never got the pleasure of seeing Dave Mackay in the flesh, the more senior supporters assure me that he is the closest thing to the fiery Scot since he left all those years ago.
This is, arguably, the best Spurs side a vast majority of the supporters has seen in their generation with many comparing this team to that of the double winning side of the 60’s. Which is why, without a shadow of a doubt, Saturdays win is one of the finest that has been witnessed in many a month. Without Modric and Van der Vaart makes the victory all that more impressive and respective duo have demonstrated why they both must not be sold at all. Ever.
Many Spurs fans see no reason why this winning streak cannot be continued up until the new year and with the way they are playing, can you really blame anyone? The mentality around the club has completely changed and it’s the winning one that could possibly see Spurs in second place by 5pm on Saturday evening.
On an another, we here at To the Lane and Back wish to pass our condolences out to the family and friends of Gary Speed. The Wales manager was found dead at his Chesire home on Sunday morning and even though he never played for Spurs, many of us grew up watching him do the business in the centre of the park. Two Spurs, Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker, were both mentored by the former Wales captain and the news of his passing must have hit the duo particularly hard.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and two teenage sons at this sad time and I’m sure every Spurs fan echoes out sentiments.
RIP Gary Speed (1969-2011)