Saturday morning was a good one for me. I awoke with no hangover (a massive achievement in itself) knowing that I could banish international football from my mind, like the bad nightmare it is, because Premier League football was back! It wasn’t just that it was back, it was that Spurs were playing on a Saturday (rare as rocking horse sh*t in these Europa League times) and it was actually a 3pm kick off – football as it should be.
The other slight tingle that I felt in my mid-region was due to the fact it was the first game after the transfer window closed, providing a chance to see some new blood at the Lane.
It is amazing, no matter how old you get, you still get that ‘kid at Christmas’ excitement at the thought of a new player in your team.
Specifically, I was excited to see whether Christian Eriksen would be the clichéd “missing piece in the jigsaw” for Spurs.
Since Rafael Van der Vaart departed for German pastures, Spurs have hugely missed a traditional playmaker and were the only Champions League-chasing team without such a player. Last season Gareth Bale was able to gloss over the fact, but without him, as Spurs adopt a reverse winger style of play, the side’s weakness in the area has been exposed.
I reflected on this en route to White Hart Lane, sending out a few tweets about what was on my mind.
First was the hope that we would see Christian Eriksen start and that he could be the player that the team was crying out for. It is easy to wax lyrical about a player’s performance in hindsight, but pre-game I had a feeling about Eriksen needing to come straight in and make an impact. I was both relieved and excited to see that he would feature from the start as Twitter delivered the team news. Roberto Soldado was just one player that needed someone like Eriksen in the team.
As I tweeted about my disappointment that Sandro and Kaboul were not starting, it was Gylfi Sigurdsson’s inclusion that was also playing on my mind. He is a good player, but it is quite easy for squad players to get lost at Spurs. For me, Gylfi Sigurdsson could easily become the next Niko Kranjcar.
As the final whistle blew on the 2-0 victory, those fears were unfounded as the Icelandic international’s brace was more reminiscent of Frank Lampard than anyone else, with some well timed runs in to the box. I hope Gylfi can become more like a ‘good Clint Dempsey’ this season, someone who will chip in with 10 or so vital goals over the course of the season.
Rather than celebrate the performance of a two-goal hero, the pundits, newspapers, and also my fellow supporters, decided to fornicate with the performance of Christian Eriksen 71 minute debut.
Instead of joining the masses in paying further homage to Eriksen, I will sum up his performance via his headline stats:
- 3 key passes
- 1 assist
- 1 assist of an assist
- 90% pass completion
His performance was as good as another ‘new’ playmaker that made their debut over the weekend, which probably gets across just how good Eriksen was and is.
Away from Eriksen’s performance, there were so many positives from the Norwich game.
Roberto Soldado put in a big performance. The Spaniard didn’t have a lot of ball, but his real skill was how he plays the number 9 role working tirelessly off the ball – the hardest skill of all to teach. The positions he takes up, his movement, and how he dictates centre-backs mean that he is the type of player that is doing things you don’t even know about.
Soldado played a big part in both Tottenham goals. His involvement in the first was obvious, somehow controlling a 100mph ball drilled in to him courtesy of Danny Rose before laying it off to Eriksen, but it was his input in the second goal that was pure genius.
As Eriksen plays the ball across the box to Paulinho, Soldado gets in the way of the Norwich defender Javier Garrido, holding him up for just a couple of seconds, which meant the Garrido could not recover enough to block Paulinho’s cross that lead to Sigurdsson’s second. It was nice to see Soldado’s subtle contribution and see what he does other than just score goals.
Elsewhere, performances from Paulinho, who was neat and tidy in everything he did, Danny Rose, whose performance up and down the field bread confidence in himself and with supporters, and also Andros Townsend, who looks like a real shot of life, always happy to run at opponents with tricky and speed despite his insistency to shoot at any given opportunity, were no doubt all huge pluses for AVB.
Christian Eriksen’s may well have taken the plaudits for an individual performance, but it is the affect that Eriksen had on the wider team that was more pleasing.
Spurs are not in danger of lacking the quality in depth this season, especially considering that Adebayor, Lennon, Chadli, Chiriches, and Capoue were not even available for the Norwich game.
Spurs are a team in danger of lacking cohesion, needing too much time to gel, with the potential of new players taking too long to settle. It is early days, but the signs post-Norwich are encouraging and it could be the arrival of Eriksen that brings Spurs together as a team that much quicker.