Spurs made hard work of their opening day fixture but in the best possible way: winning with two quick-fire goals late on to finish off a stubborn Villa side, who had defended magnificently on their return to the Premier League.
A sluggish, side-to-side first half from Spurs saw us go in behind at the break after Danny Rose dallied and then went to ground allowing the super-talented John McGinn to make his mark on the Premier League with the opening goal.
But Spurs showed the sort of spirit that got us to last season’s Champions League final. Not *only* spirit though: there was quality in all three goals.
Tanguy Ndombele had a storming second half, and his goal was a show-case of his ability. He planted a wonderfully controlled curling shot into the far corner to start the come-back. This seemed to give him a huge confidence boost and he was pulling out tricks and flicks to go with his composure and reading of the game. He’s a gem.
Spurs’ physical dominance showed in the last twenty minutes with Kane taking two chances with aplomb, his first touch on both pivotal in him having the time to make the finishes look easy. He looked ripped (swoon) and pumped up in pre-season – a strong start for him felt inevitable.
The key difference with Spurs this season will be our added depth and, therefore, ability to rotate.
We concluded our transfer business on deadline day with a back flip and a curtsy, adding Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon to Tanguy Ndombele and Jack Clarke; their average age just 20.5 years.
Not only did we start resolving the issue of the age profile of the squad starting to creep up, but we solved the biggest problem facing the club over the past twelve months: the lack of viable central midfield.
With Mousa Dembele’s decline and then departure, Spurs’ ‘make do and mend’ diamond midfield of Winks, Sissoko, Eriksen and A N Other barely cut the mustard and led to a drop-off in expected goals scored and an increase in expected goals conceded.
Pochettino made it work enough to secure a top-four finish and get to the final of the Champions League, but it was not fair for Daniel Levy to ask his manager to work miracles for a second season running.
So, here we are: a midfield to be proud of with two of the best young central midfielders in world football (Ndombele and Lo Celso), two super-young wingers (or a maybe-winger in Sessegnon’s case) with bags of potential and Spurs fans are thoroughly excited about what this can mean and how long we could potentially have this core in place for.
It’s the beginning of another cycle. Of course, that optimism would be diminished somewhat were Christian Eriksen and/or Alderweireld to leave before the European windows close.
Eriksen’s influence was so apparent on the opening day; his introduction on 63 minutes totally transformed the nature of the game from a Spurs perspective, with the tempo, the formation, and the way that Spurs found players between the lines almost immediately clicking.
He’s a world-class player, and keeping him has to be seen as a priority.