Ten games in and we’re clear in third for yet another week, level on points with City after their loss today to Liverpool and top of our group in the Champions League. What’s not to like apart from the overall quality of the football,. But a win is a win as they say.
A narrow nail-biter is worth exactly the same points as a stylish demolition. And you surely believe what they say about playing poorly and winning. No me neither. But there is positivity in the air from Conte down. At this rate, he might even extend his contract.
Winning when not playing well is, of course, more satisfying than playing well and losing and I think that things, in terms of team spirit and attitude, are certainly improving so perhaps the football will come in good time. The various parts are playing well separately but don’t quite fit together smoothly somehow.
Ten games completed is purely a mathematical milestone and signifies nothing crucial but it’s a convenient peg on which to hang an ongoing assessment. If we should ever start to play consistently well we’ll be top of the Premier League and win the World Cup too at the very least.
And just as Global Warming is working its awful magic on the structure of our world so fixture pressure, injuries and suspensions have melted even the stubborn heart of Antonio and produced substitutions and varying starting elevens.
In fact against Frankfurt in a rush of blood it induced too many and we all but blew the game and re-defined the whole concept of ‘Spursyness’. Gil and Moura both at the same time with minutes to go? Really? Never mind; ‘All’s well that ends well’ as the man once said.
The victory over Everton lifted Spurs on to 23 points from 10 league matches – our highest tally at this stage of a Premier League season and indeed for almost 60 years, while Kane, on his 400th. appearance has now scored in five successive top-flight games for the first time in his career.
If this is only mediocre stuff then give us more I hear you cry. Perhaps it’s just me demanding style and performance as well as results. On Saturday though we could easily have gone in a goal or even two down but the Football Gods were sleeping and don’t seem to have noticed us yet.
We’ve got our Sonny back and Kane though severely overused and looking tired is still doing the business. Apart from lapses by Dier against Frankfurt and Lloris against Arsenal the defence is performing well, under the stern gaze of Romero.
Lenglet seems to be a step up from the dull but ever-reliable Davies; Sessegnon and Doherty are both in contention; Betancur’s elegant drive has lifted both the team’s performances and that of Hojbjerg.
Even Spence is reported to have made an appearance but I sneezed and missed it. He’s young, his time will come even if he wasn’t Conte’s choice.
Richarlison, now injured, hasn’t quite settled into an effective role but the introduction of Bissouma into a midfield three has worked well. However I think Antonio will need more convincing before he dispenses with his favoured 3-5-2. It’s a useful in-game option though as he himself has realised.
With Skipp and Moura returned and Kulusevski poised to come back we would seem to have the necessary resources to face the coming avalanche of fixtures: eight games in the five weeks before the start of the World Cup break in November.
We have certainly racked up the points which some would say is the only thing that matters. But we promise to do so much more but rarely deliver. In the 10 games so far we have lost just once but only a couple of these performances were at all convincing.
For the rest, we were dependent on the shortcomings of the opposition in failing to score and for the finishing talent of especially Kane and Son. Apart from the games against Southampton and Leicester, it’s been more of a grind than is comfortable.
Before the World Cup break we face Manchester Utd; Newcastle, Bournemouth Liverpool and Leeds in the Premier League; the final two games in the group stage of the Champions League; and Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Quite a tough schedule and a very mixed bag which will stretch and test our resources to the limit. Antonio’s newfound flexibility will certainly help. By Xmas the crystal ball will start to clear with almost half the Premier League schedule completed and our fate decided for the next stage of the Champions League.