A slightly different looking Spurs side travelled to The Britt… Bet 365 stadium (that’s going to take a bit of getting used to, huh?) today. With Mousa Dembele serving the final game of his suspension, Victor Wanyama kept his place, with fit again Hugo Lloris replacing the in-form Michel Vorm who, despite the obvious quality of our club captain, was desperately unlucky to lose his place. An injury to Danny Rose also saw Ben Davies slot in at left back, and Erik Lamela dropped to the bench alongside club record signing Moussa Sissoko, with Heung-min Son taking the vacant position on the left.
Stoke looked the better side in the opening minutes, and a fantastic through-ball from Imbula nearly led to the opening goal, only for Marko Arnautovic to stray marginally offside and thus his fine finish was instantly ruled out by the raised flag on the far side. An early warning for Spurs. The home side continued to cause problems though, and the first heart-in-mouth moment came in the form of a Glen Whelan volley from outside the area, which was tipped over for a corner.
After the initial excitement, the rest of the opening 20 minutes passed with nothing of note happening. Spurs continued to look lost without the talismanic Mousa Dembele and were struggling to create chances. Dele Alli found space for a shot from just outside the box which was tipped over for a corner, our first real chance, which seemed to spur us into action. Mark Hughes was sent to the stands, and then a moment of controversy in the six-yard box as Bruno Martins-Indi appeared to shove Dele Alli, but the latter was penalised after his fall was judged as a little too theatrical for referee Anthony Taylor. Shortly after, there was some intelligent play from Alli as he played Eriksen in down the right wing, who beat his man easily and played the ball into Son, who was in space inside the box and cooly slotted into the bottom corner to open the scoring. First blood Spurs.
A spell of pressure from the home side on the verge of half time culminated in a Spurs counter attack, with the impressive Son breaking into the City half, only for his eventual pass to lack the conviction needed to find a teammate and Stoke gratefully regained possession. The halftime whistle blew.
The second half had a much livelier start than the first. Dele Alli had a shot blocked, followed by some superb defending from Kyle Walker to put the ball behind for a corner and prevent the dangerous Arnautovic, who had got to the ball first, from putting the ball into the six-yard box. the resulting corner almost lead to an equaliser. Pochettino then altered his tactics, with Wanyama making way for Erik Lamela. Some sublime skill from the back-in-form Christian Eriksen set Son free on the edge of the area, and he simply curled the ball into the top corner for his and our second of the game, as well as a second assist for Eriksen.
An excellent block from Toby Alderweireld prevented Wilfried Bony from pulling one back for the home side. The resulting corner lead to a Spurs counter attack, Kyle walker was sent free down the right, before playing it into Dele Alli who guided it past Shay Given to put us three up. It was all Spurs at this point, with Eriksen breaking through and nearly making it four but only to be denied at the near post by Given. A matter of seconds later, Harry Kane obliged in making it four and in doing so, finally grabbing his first of the season with a tap-in from close range.
The rest of the game was all Spurs, with Stoke looking a beaten side and making little attempt to prevent Spurs setting up camp on the edge of their area. Some exceptional football was on show from the Lilywhites, and they toyed with the home side until the final whistle sounded.
Between the sticks –
Hugo Lloris: 7/10.
Apart from the first 20 minutes, he didn’t have a lot to do. But even so, a successful return from injury for our skipper.
Kyle Walker: 8/10.
A superb game from Walker.
Ben Davies: 7/10.
Did okay in Danny Rose’s absence. A more conservative option at full back, in a game where we largely dominated. But he did well when called upon.
Jan Vertonghen: 8/10.
Another good performance.
Toby Alderweireld: 8/10.
Not even sure I need to write anything here, exceptional as always.
Victor Wanyama: 7/10.
Did well. Nothing spectacular but provided a physical presence to help nullify the influence of Imbula. Came off early in the second half.
Eric Dier: 7/10.
Good performance as ever.
Christian Eriksen: 8/10.
Getting his contract sorted seems to have sorted out his form. A lot better today, he really pulled the strings in the middle of the park.
Dele Alli: 8/10.
Looking much more like the wonderkid from last season. Took his goal well.
Heung-Min Son: 9/10.
A welcome return to form for Sonny. Took his goals superbly. Needs to work on his decision making though. He was perhaps unlucky to be denied a hattrick when Dele Alli scored.
Harry Kane: 8/10.
Off the mark at last! Had a very quiet first half. But he’s back on the scoresheet and that’s all that matters.
Erik Lamela: 7/10.
Certainly made us more attacking. Hair looked fantastic too.
Vincent Janssen: 7/10.
Another promising show from the young Dutchman.
Moussa Sissoko: 7/10.
The match had already been won when he entered the pitch, but he added some physicality to the midfield and got in the face of the opposition.
Man of The Match:
A tough one this week, but I think it goes to Christian Eriksen. A return to form today and it’s no coincidence that it meant a return to winning ways for us as well. Honourable mention to Son who will no doubt be todays MOTM for many Spurs fans.
Monaco at home (well, Wembley) in the Champions League. Wednesday 14th September. Kick off 19:45.