(Thanks to @Caley_graphics. One of my favorite Twitter follows.)
*I’m going to do my best to get my general thoughts on Spurs games up every week. Once American football and college hockey starts, my time will all but evaporate…but that will still remain the stated goal. I generally live-tweet thoughts/exclamations at @NastyIsland, either way.*
*So, let’s attempt a format/voice and see where it goes…bullet points? Sure. Cartilage Free Captain does something similar, and I very much enjoy it.*
- Three Points. Let’s not lose the plot: The goal is to win and get three points. Spurs did that. Away to Newcastle is the farthest that Spurs will go in their domestic league. That’s rarely an easy go. Spurs have also had a few scuff-ups in the major Northeast city. Also, overall, they did not play particularly well… Or with any consistency, at least. Almost all of the normal starting XI were in the World Cup semis. All of those worries/intangibles did not stop them. It was a good, grinding win.
- Dele. I thought Dele was the best outfield player on the pitch (Hugo probably the best overall). Obviously, he had the easy header goal. He started the game more on the left in a midfield of three and carried the ball well. He also is still a master at making those runs from deep as his goal showcased. Hopefully, this is an exploding year from him.
- Davinson. Right behind -or next to- Dele in terms of impact would be Davinson Sanchez. While he did get a little lost on the goal, it was a terrific cross. Drop a ball on a guy’s forehead from there and you’ve got to tip your cap. I’m convinced that Davi’s development is the leading reason that Spurs have yet to cave to Toby’s contract demands. His catch-up speed and scrambling ability are top notch. Very much on display against Newcastle.
- New System? In the ICC, Poch opted to run a 4-3-3 and it carried through into the Week 1 of the EPL. It certainly is interesting. I still think that the 3-4-3 with a Back 3 of Toby, Davinson, and Jan is the optimal way to go. Against bunkering teams, Eriksen can drop into the midfield with Dier and Sonny or Lamela/Moura can play up with Kane. The 4-3-3 keeps a CB on the bench and forces a guy like Sissoko onto the field, instead. Also, can Dier play a true CM? We’ll see, I guess.
- Aurier. We have to talk about this. He’s… quite the enigma. I texted someone during the match saying that he’s a soccer body without a head. He’s prone to very rash tackles; a lot of them way too late. Then, he’ll put a cross on a dime for maybe Dele’s easiest goal of the season. Before one of Hugo’s fantastic plays/saves, Aurier got caught on the left side of the field, kneeling down to head the ball. To the opposition. After a possession pass and a switch, Newcastle had a semi-break coming down their left because Serge could not get back. Poch has done wonders with fullbacks. Kyle Walker was a bit similar to Aurier when Poch got him, and Walker became one of the top RBs in the world within a few years. He also momentarily turned Danny Rose into the best LB in the EPL before Danny’s injury. Tripps was a great crosser at Burnley and Poch sent him to the World Cup Top XI. This is his biggest project yet…
- August. Harry Kane still has not scored in August. And to be honest, he did not look so great on Saturday. He looked like he’s played soccer for like 11 of the last 12 months. Maybe because he has. Hopefully, another week of training will help a little… and potentially Fulham’s defense.
- 5+ years. Jan Vertonghen scored a goal for the first time since away to Liverpool in 2013! Apparently, it was by nine millimeters. That’s awfully specific, Goal Decision System.
- International Champions Cup Champions! Spurs won the ICC on goal differential! And it comes with a Trophy! Does that count???
- Non-Transfer Window. This is will be my last point because its getting long, but I want to touch on the lack of signings. I’ve read a lot of takes on it suggesting many different things. Who knows what the real reason is? But my reaction is that while its not probably ideal, I am fine with it. Spurs have a lot of talent. They resigned a number of their players to better contracts. Also, Lucas Moura (who didn’t have the game I was hoping for on Saturday) got a full Poch preseason and looked good in the games in the US. I wanted Spurs to grab Kovacic, but they didn’t/couldn’t. Other than that, there were not a lot of available targets that were adequately priced. People wanted Grealish and I didn’t NOT want him. 30+ mil for a guy who played in the Championship last season? I don’t know. Spurs are moving into their new stadium and can’t just throw around 30-40mil per transfer on fliers. Levy has been fantastic in his deals and Poch was desired my Real Madrid. He’s one of the best there is. I’m just going to trust them until they prove me wrong.