81 min So can Spurs win the league? It already looks like it’ll take a lower points tally than the past three seasons, which should mean more teams can stay in the race for longer. Spurs have plenty of goals in them, but it’s worth remembering that the way they’re playing is fairly new on opponents, and plans will be made. Though teams have been making plans for Harry Kane for five years now, and how did those work out for them?
79 min “Kane is unassailable in the Prem,” says Mike Ollier, “but, he just doesn’t score in the big England games against the big teams.”
No that’s true and … EXCUSE ME WHILE I INTERRUPT MYSELF! Son sweeps the ball across the face of the box to Kane, left alone while Bale run into it draws defenders, and first-time, he sweeps a left-footer that leaves Fabianski dreaming of green clouds and furry combine harvesters, as the ball clatters the post. As we were saying, from 12-22 yards, he is absolutely disgusting.
77 min Double change for West Ham, Antonio and Fornals coming off with Lanzini and Yarmolenko coming on.
77 min Kale runs away from Coufal, so Soucek comes over and can’t help but introduce forearm to phizog. He’s booked.
76 min Nice passing in midfield from Spurs, then Kane lofts a ball over the top for Bale, but it’s slightly too strong.
73 min Bale invites himself to take the kick, plopping over the wall and straight at Fabianski. I think Winks may have come on as well, but if he has we’ve not been allowed to see properly, in all the Bale excitement.
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72 min Ogbonna is late on Bergwijn, earning himself a booking; free-kick Spurs, in prime Bale territory, and right on cue, yerman makes his return, replacing Bergwijn.
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70 min West Ham win a corner down the left which Cresswell drives in, hard and flat, but no one attacks it and Spurs bring the ball away.
68 min “REM wrote a song all about Kane: Superman,” says Paul Mills. “I would add that Hugo (or CuyaHugo as he is known somewhere or other) is definitely the Number One I Love.”
Man, Life’s Rich Pageant is so, so good. There are fewer than 10 acts in the entire history of popular music who were as good for as long as REM. To still have Automatic For The People to say, eight albums deep, is astonishing.
67 min West Ham knock it about then Spurs rob them, Son feeding Kane whose shot is blocked; Kane scrabbles about like a madman trying to retrieve possession, but can’t quite manage it.
65 min “Seeing Kane this season,” says Rohit Dixit, “I am wondering if Firmino is just a poor man’s version of him. Kane is doing everything that Firmino gets plaudits for, just much much better. By the way, he also scores goals.”
Well yes, Kane is a much better player than Firmino, but Firmino’s style works in a successful team, so.
63 min “More than Chelsea, this Spurs side is starting to resemble Mourinho’s Real Madrid,” reckons Chetan Narula. “That was when a Mourinho side was at its devastating counter-attacking best. Remember the 100-goal season? That too when Pep’s Barca were in their prime. Spurs are still not the finished product though, lacking some quality at the back. I would say a star centre-back signing should do it – Skriniar would have been perfect. But even with current defending options, this is brilliant to watch.”
The title Mourinho won, Guardiola’s Barca were probably a season past their best, but yes, the comparison is a fair one – Guardiola certainly found out all that at Bayern, who Madrid dematerialised on the counter in the Champions League. Skriniar is one of those players I’ve never seen be great, but yes, I agree Spurs need a better centre-back, and I’m still not convinced by their midfield.
61 min Kane drives towards the West Ham box, starting deep and turning. He should really find Son, outside him and unmarked, but hat-trick hunting, he opts to shoot, dragging just wide of the near post.
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61 min We’ll be seeing Gareth Bale before long, I shouldn’t wonder.
60 min Hojbjerg clears Rice’s ball into the box and Soufal swings back in, but Lloris is able to collect unchallenged.
58 min “Begin the Bergwijn” says Alan Morgan; “Son Central Kane” says Peter Oh.
56 min “I’d make a change to your Mourinho rankings,” says Ursolin Waxoh.
‘1. Back to back Europa League and Champions League with Porto.
2. Inspiring a team that lasted a generation at Chelsea.
3. Winning the treble at Inter.
4, Taking a league title off the greatest club side ever at Madrid.’
I’d put his triumphs with Chelsea ahead of his Porto wins. Remember: Andre Villas-Boas achieved similar results to Mourinho’s at Porto six or seven years later. His Porto team would have definitely been a contender for the CL title had it not been stripped of its best players and AVB himself after an astonishing Europa League campaign.But whereas Mourinho conquered London – a new club, a new country – on his first try, AVB found England a tougher proposition. The real question is, if Mourinho somehow wins the title with Spurs – Spurs! -, where would THAT rank?”
Ah, that wasn’t an order, it was a list in chronological order. I change my mind repeatedly, so all I really know is that I’d have Chelsea bottom. But I don’t think we can saw Villas-Boas did what Mourinho did, given he didn’t win big ears and given he inherited a far better side than Mourinho did; when Mourinho took over, Porto were fifth and Boavista had won the previous title.
54 min West Ham have started the second half well, Masuaku beating his man – honestly – before shooting into legs. Of course, the upshot of all this will be more Spurs goals on the break.
52 min “Arsene Wegner used to get a lot of slack for justifying Arsenals’s lack of transfer activity by saying their wasn’t value in the market,” says Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo, “but it appears Daniel Levy has followed that same philosophy. When it was a seller’s market Spurs did little. When it was a buyer’s market they reinvented their squad. Wouldn’t you say?”
“Value in the market” was an Alex Ferguson obfuscation when he was justifying the Glazers taking hundreds of millions out of Man United; Wenger was talking guff about young players when Arsenal needed to sell season tickets while paying the mortgage. But yes, you could argue Spurs spent well in the summer, but not without noting that when they had their best side since at least 1987, Levy refused Mauricio Pochettino the money he needed to reinforce and refresh it, and ended up having to sack him.
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50 min WHAT A MISS! Antonio runs at Alderweireld, nips inside as the defender haplessly allows it and drives a shot which is blocked, but rears up to the far post, where Fornals arrives, unmarked! All he has to to do is not into the empty net, but instead he thunders over the bar! If anything, Clive, he’s headed that one too well.
48 min Nice from West Ham, Rice spreading to Soufal whose cross is deflected further across by Sissoko. It’s dropping beautifully for Soucek, who volleys home fresh air in spectacular style, while the ball passes between his legs.
47 min Spurs have played a load of games and have a load of games coming up. But, on the other hand, they have plenty of players playing for places and the other two are Son and Kane, so who knows what’s going to happen during the rest of the game?
“Comments on Shearer MkII” says George. “I completely agree that as greats age, they are no longer front of pack raw speed/ jump/ etc. Of course, the veteran’s wisdom paired with his residual formerly fantastic ability places him in an altogether different sphere.”
Yes, Shearer was still good, but his knowhow didn’t compensate for the lost gas. Thinking about it, I’d probably have Kane above Shearer now, given his record in Europe.
“Taking Nicholas Walsmley’s pass, and running with it,” says Matt Dony. “Must be really pleasant to play Kane and Son in this kind of mood. Near Alderweireld Heaven. I’m sorry.”
No apology necessary; I ran through the track listing of about six REM albums in my head while looking at the teamsheet, trying to find something similar, and missed this iteration. But I agree, who can cope with Son Son H?
“What has happened to the Jose of old?” asks Jonny Bull. “His previous teams would have shut up shop at 1-0, suffocating the opposition and, eventually his own team’s fans with his miseryball.
This Spurs team have been averaging three goals a game this season and show no interest in easing off when ahead. Did Mourinho take the criticism of his style to heart? Or has he been visited by a ghost from his future imploring him to change his ways?”
I’m not sure, because one characteristic of his later career has been trying to impose a style of play and being on squads and players to whom both are entirely unsuited. I guess Spurs are still a counter-attacking team, and striking opponents who come forward is part of the plan. But it’s also fair to say that his first Chelsea team were devastating going forward when Robben was on.
Half-time: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 West Ham United
Harry Kane. That really is all there is to say.
45+2 min A ball into the box from Masuaku and Soucek tries to shoot then Coufal does, but his effort is blocked at source by … Harry Kaneavaro! Unbelievable behaviour.
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45+1 min “Did you really say that Shearer wasn’t elite?” asks Robert Lin. “Are you out of your mind?” he wonders.
No I didn’t say that, I said that Shearer Mk III wasn’t elite, which I don’t think is especially controversial. Still good, but not one of the best in the world.
43 min Excellent from Spurs, one-touch stuff pinging the ball about before Ndombele tries a pass over the top for Kane. He can’t gather, but Ndombele then manages two decent challenges to keep West Ham down. Is he the first player since Joe Cole who’s come back and been useful to Mourinho, after being victimised by him?
43 min “Losing My Reguilon is the song of the night for whoever’s supposed to be marking him,” sniggers Nicholas Walmsley.
42 min Spurs counter and Kane finds Sissoko; he squares for Bergwijn, who wafts wide. Spurs are playing through West Ham so easily.
40 min “Considering a Moyes-less West Ham’s last two league games garnered two wins (against Wolves and Leicester),” says Charlie Pulling, “and a total of seven scored and zero conceded, I hope, I think, I know that the Hammers would surely prefer the Scotsman would take a lesson out of Gareth Bale’s favourite Oasis album and please do go away. D’know what I mean?”
In fairness, he was managing remotely, and this team absolutely reeks of Moyes – in both good and less good aspects.
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39 min Reguilon, who’s settling very nicely, arcs a cross into the space behind defence and keeper that has too much gas on it for Bergwijn.
37 min Antonio looks to budge the ball across Alderweireld, anticipating a challenge that’ll win him a penalty, but Alderweireld is firm, fast, and first to the ball. Excellent defending.
36 min “Harry Kane channelling Don Revie,” says Mal Simon, I imagine referring to the progenitor of the withdrawn centre-forward role.
I actually think someone else played it here first but can’t remember who – I shall investigate – but yes, it was inspired by Nandor Hidegkuti.
35 min Eeeeesh! Aurier again makes ground down the right and crosses low and hard; Son slides in, but can’t quite make contact so Fabianski collects. That was very nearly 4-0.
33 min I guess we oughtn’t be surprised that Kane is thriving under Mourinho – Mourinho is still a genius, but more than that, Kane is exactly the sort of monomaniacal freak of nature on with whom he gets.
33 min Reguilon finds Son, who finds Kane, but Soucek just about gets a foot in.
30 min “On Twitter last year,” says John Tumbridge, “one on of those pointless surveys” – are there any others? – “the question was ‘What is your unpopular view about Spurs?’ My response was that ‘We’ve seen the best of Harry. I was wrong .”
Yes, I also used that humiliating medium to wonder if Mason Greenwood was already better than him. Ahem.
29 min I wondered about Spurs in midfield, but they look alright so far. Maybe it’s just the addition of Kane, but Hojbjerg is playing really well and Ndombele is growing too, taking a chipped pass from Kane and sliding a nice ball inside the full-back for Aurier, who can’t pick out a man with his cross.
26 min “Thanks for the pop video,” says Charles Antaki. “The music is a bit on the hectic side for me, but great to see Helsinki’s beautiful Cathedral Square featured. I didn’t last the whole clip, but if the kids made it to the extravagant Orthodox cathedral a couple of hundred metres down the road, we’d have had the full travelogue’s worth.”
There’s only one Helsinki.
24 min A stat comes up: Mourinho has never lost a match to David Moyes.
22 min Spurs win a free-kick down the right which Son will swing out, and just as Kane looks poised to attack it, it prangs off Ogbonna who was looking the other way. Then, in the repechage that follows, a stray elbow cracks Sissoko – Antonio’s – and he goes down.
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20 min The aspect of those 12-22 yard finishes that sets Kane apart is how quickly he sizes up the situation then does whatever it demands. Neither keeper nor defenders can set, and the purity of his technique – as much a facility of practise as nature, I shouldn’t wonder – means there’s nothing they can then do about it. Oh, and Antonio slid in late on Son, earning himself a booking.
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18 min I’m not going to lie, I wondered about Kane. He’ll be able to finish and pass until the day he does and probably after then, but I wondered if he’d lost his gas, and whether that would have him like Shearer Mk III, a good player but not an elite one. If it was not already clear, I am a moron.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 West Ham United (Kane 16)
It’s absolutely rrrrrrridiculous! West Ham have five defenders and they still can’t get close to Harry Kane! Hojbjerg finds Son, he goes wide to Reguilon and everyone knows what’s coming next: a perfect cross, an expert’s header, and Spurs are ravaging West Ham like wild dogs!
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15 min “Thanks for the interesting mix of images today,” says Justin Kavanagh. “It got my slightly murky Sunday mind thinking how football has changed from the 1920s to the 50s and 60s to the present day. For example, who could picture either of the Charlton brothers with a man bun? Or Gareth Bale sitting in Madrid airport before his physical this summer with a beer and ciggie on?”
I guess there were footballers in the 60s with the equivalent of the bun, just as there will be players now who enjoy a tab.
14 min And where would winning the league with Spurs rank on Mourinho’s bedpost?