Spurs match reports

Burnley 2-5 Spurs: Four Tottenham Talking Points

UPDATE 24/9/23: A little note of apology for the absence of thoughts on Sheff Utd and the NLD – unfortunately my immune system flung open its doors and forgot to say when. A little under the weather. Hopefully back for Liverpool!

1. Son Up Top

(With apologies for tardiness. Was off gallivanting this weekend, don’t you know.)

The decision to give Richarlison a quiet bump off onto the sidelines and begin with Sonny up top certainly got the tongues wagging like nobody’s business. Never mind that Richarlison  was diagnosed with that peskiest and most prevalent of injuries (“a knock”) – around the campfire the conclusion was fairly firmly established: Richarlison had been dropped, paying the price for that alarming surge of ineptitude in front of goal.

Now much like a troublesome female juvenile in a nursery rhyme, when good Richarlison is rollicking, and when bad he’s something of a wash-out. And given that he’s spent the first few weeks of the season mooching about the place like a surly teenager, one can only imagine the sort of company he must be now, having seen his replacement dink and ping his way to a pretty effortless hat-trick.

The peculiarity in all this is that aside from his three goals, Sonny can hardly be said to have got up to a great deal during his little afternoon jolly at the weekend. Not a criticism in the slightest, to be clear, for as long as he’s knocking away hat-tricks he can spend the rest of the game grabbing a spot of shut-eye down by the corner flag as far as AANP is concerned. The point is more that Sonny’s while principal role was to crack away the goals, and crack away the goals he did, beyond that it’s difficult to rack up much in the way of his inputs.

He certainly hared away with all the energy and enthusiasm of a puppy chasing a stick when it came to closing down the poor old Burnley goalkeeper, which is actually a pretty critical part of the whole Ange-ball operation; but if anyone were donning the spectacles and keeping close track of the moments when he dropped deep or brought others into play or whatnot, they’d have been in for a disappointment.

And as such, poor old Richarlison’s sour expression would not have sweetened one jot. “Pfft”, one can well imagine him snorting, when being regaled with tales of Sonny’s heroics. And if invited to elaborate, no doubt the unfortunate young bean would have muttered something along the lines that bounding after a goalkeeper is pretty much the art that he (Richarlison) has mastered above any other, so far this season. It’s become his signature move, over the last four weeks (well, that and tripping over his own feet when in sight of goal).

Of course, the critical difference between the pair is that Richarlison spent three games looking like he’s been specifically programmed to do anything but score goals, finding ever more elaborate means of stuffing up opportunities as they fall to him. Sonny, by contrast, breezed about the place on Saturday looking the sort of young slab who has been hitting the bottom corner every time he touches the ball.

For a lad who hadn’t scored in a good half a dozen games, he took his first goal with a remarkable breeziness. A dinked chip, of all things! If he had put his head down and thumped the thing home, or carefully picked out a bottom corner, I’m sure we’d still have serenaded the loveable young charlie all the way back to North London – but to dink-chip the thing really made you stop what you were doing and mutter an admiring, “What ho!” Quite where that level of confidence sprouted from is anyone’s guess, but one cannot in month of Sundays imagine Richarlison tucking away his chances with such care-free nonchalance.

And there’s the rub, what? As long as Richarlison is labouring away up top with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Son is sending goalkeepers and defenders flying before dreamily flicking the ball over them and into the net, then the forward-line conundrum is actually devastatingly straightforward, and not in the least controversial. Sonny’s dead-eyed accuracy (easy to dismiss his second and third, but both were as emphatic as they come) complements the rest of the Ange-ball apparatus perfectly. If Richarlison can discover such alchemy I’m sure he’ll be welcomed back into the fold pretty readily, but it would be a pretty rummy sort of prune who adjusted the starting XI to reinstate Richarlison up-top after this weekend’s activity, and Big Ange certainly doesn’t seem the sort.

2. Manor Solomon

The other critical element in the whole ‘Richarlison Demotion’ episode was the introduction into the plot of young Manor Solomon, the musical chairs setup dictating that he took up Son’s station on the left, while Son, as discussed dashed around at the apex.

I’ve been a little taken aback to find opinions of the fine young fellow hovering around the “Unconvinced” sort of marker. Thought young Solomon beavered away pretty effectively myself, but it just goes to prove that old gag about Chap A’s meat and Chap B’s poison.

I suppose if judging Solomon by the very highest standards (and why wouldn’t we?) then one might argue that his outputs were in the ‘Solid but Unspectacular’ category. He had his moments, and set up two goals, which is not to be sniffed at (just ask Richarlison); all of which was useful, but I suppose some might argue that he did all of the above without necessarily giving the impression of being the pre-eminent performer in the whole spectacular.

And frankly, if this were indeed the criticism to be levelled at Solomon, I’d mark it down as mightily harsh. In his first meaningful start for the club I thought he did a spiffing job of things. He looked pretty dashed lively every time the ball was rolled his way – and not a ‘Lucas Moura’ brand of lively either, that involves bowing the head, setting off on a dribble, losing all sense of direction and falling over at the end of some obscure cul-de-sac. Rather, I thought that his eyes generally lit up and he wasted little time in taking on whichever foe was shoved his way, often with a goodish level of success.

He set up Son for two goals, popped a few shots away, pinged a few threatening passes across the area and looked as likely to skin his man as not each time he opted for a dribble. Admittedly, the general sense was of someone of a Bergwijn or Gil sort of level, the sort of imp who can dizzy an opposing defender on a good day, but who may well infuriate a bit on other occasions – but as mentioned, for a first stab at the role it was decent enough. Truth be told, he struck me as being every bit as effective – if not more so – as Sonny had been in the previous three games.

3. Udogie

The disinterested observer might not have registered, and Gary Neville would presumably have described his efforts as Championship-standard or some similar rot, but with his each passing interaction I became increasingly taken with young Signor Udogie.

As alluded to above, if you one were the sort watching proceedings in the way AANP watches a game of cricket – glass charged, conversation flowing, typically not more than three-quarters of an eye on the match itself – one might feasibly have taken in the match in its entirety without even noticing Udogie on the pitch. For here was a chap who operated, if not exactly by stealth, then certainly in fairly unobtrusive fashion.

If the ball needed to be won, down in his little patch on the south-western corner, he simply put his head down and went about doing exactly that, with minimum fuss or fanfare. Similarly, if a pretty incisive pass needed executing, or even a tight corner needed wriggling out of, Udogie seemed always to be one step ahead. The more one noticed it, the more impressive it became.

And the gold stars rack up even more freely when one considers that young Udogie has been fulfilling a role that presumably is a tad foreign to him, what with inverting and popping into central midfield areas one moment, and then sprinting off in a diagonal towards the left wing the next, in order to fulfil his precise role within Ange-ball.

Maddison understandably attracts the headlines, and Son toddled off with the match-ball, but in terms of scuttling around behind the scenes making sure that everything was perfectly in place for the principals to hog the limelight, few can compare with the boy Destiny.

4. Maddison, and the Scenario One Dares Not Contemplate

So after a slightly gormless opening five minutes, our heroes rolled out yet another pretty breathtaking demonstration of Ange-Ball at its finest. All concerned spluttered out their superlatives at Pedro Porro’s pass for our fifth, but to me this detracted from the preceding 14 consecutive passes, which brought about the goal. Few passages of play this season will better sum up the quality of the fare currently being peddled by the soon-to-be-crowned Premier League winners 23/24.

At its heart once more was the marvellous young Maddison, and rarely has a lilywhite looked to be enjoying the nine-to-five quite so much as this fellow. His goal could not have been struck more perfectly, flying off to its destination like a missile, and boasting, when viewed from one particularly becoming angle, the joyous quality of starting outside the post before curling just sufficiently to wind its way back inside. A rarely-spotted specimen, and one that certainly prompts some pretty excited nattering amongst the regulars.

So all is rosy in the N17 garden, and we would be well advised simply to drink it in and enjoy the moment. Nevertheless, at that point in the evening in which one realises with horror that the whiskey bottle has run dry, I did find myself contemplating a more severe scenario, in which young Master Maddison, for whatever reason, might happen to become incapacitated; and here, the thought experiment took a pretty jarring turn.

For this chap really is the heartbeat of the operation. Bissouma is an absolute diamond; the VDV-Romero axis is surely destined for greatness; but Maddison really makes the thing tick. Should some ill fate befall him, I’m sure Our Glorious Leader would shrug it off in that philosophical and ever-so-slightly intimidating manner of his – but a certain unspeakable trouble would most definitely be afoot.

As it happens, I thought Lo Celso looked a pretty shiny sort of object during pre-season, all well-spotted passes and intelligent positions – but Maddison has swiftly elevated himself to the level of the indispensable. Put in the most vulgar terms, Lo Celso would have to play out of his skin to replicate the chap’s efforts.

Truth be told, the concern can be repeated for a couple of other positions. As mentioned, the central defence pairing looks ever more impressive; but remove one of VDV or Romero for a few weeks, and replace with Davinson Sanchez, and I suspect we’ll be squirming in our seats. See also Messrs Udogie, Bissouma and so on. The main cast is breathtaking; the first reserves, decidedly less so.

But fie upon such dreary supposition – it may never happen, and if the gods smile upon us (which will be necessary in order to confirm the Title in May) it never will. Going into an international break, when have we ever enjoyed life this much? The football is scintillating, the results are excellent and one simply doesn’t want the matches to end.

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18 replies on “Burnley 2-5 Spurs: Four Tottenham Talking Points”

I enjoyed the article and it’s Olde English tone, but was gutted to find a reference to ‘whiskey’, whether Irish or American, rather than to Scottish whisky, which I’m sure evert true-blue British sportsman prefers!

The folks that occupy space in my little world have tired of hearing this but you are the finest online author I have ever read. Your opinions are well-cultivated, not half-baked and your literary acumen is far beyond the average blogger, most of whom don’t even take the time to proofread their material. Keep up the good work, and may your most recent prognostication come true. Of course that would mean the world has come to an end but if Spurs win the league, so be it.

Totally agree about the literary standard of this blog. Unlike many blogs, or even mainstream media these days, even the correct spelling of the word ‘principal’!
Also, I’ve read many reports and heard several match commentaries and am amazed that only here has someone remarked on the incredible 15 pass move leading to Sonny’s hat-trick goal. I’m sure it involved all 10 outfield players and may be the best ‘team’ goal I’ve seen in my 57 years of following Spurs.

A lovely, fun and erudite post, as usual. But there were typos (whole not while) principal… in (a) month). And a whole lot of words that probably shouldn’t be hyphenated. It’s been a long time since I lived in the Brit but the following words may not need hyphenating (well, they don’t over here in the colonies): Washout and hattrick…shuteye, carefree, deadeye or dead eye, match ball, rarely spotted… Perhaps, hyphens earn more play over in AANP’s world. Cheers and COYS!

Once again, a great read – thanks! Especially the “…soon-to-be-crowned Premier League winners 23/24” bit which I both loved and assumed, was ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Amongst the growing chants of ‘We’ve got our Tottenham back’, I’d like to say, perhaps, ‘not quite’ – for two reasons. Firstly, while Ange’s teams are well-known for their fluid, attacking football, what is less spoken about is that they all have a certain defensive steel about them, which starts with a strong back four, but actually runs through the whole team. I notice in the last day or so Gary Neville and Roy Keane have written Spurs off with the onset of winter. Lazy journalism, as they’ve done no research on Ange and said defence.

The second reason? Absolutely no offence intended here, but Ange’s teams win. There’s a hunger about this group of players that you can almost see – and that will only increase as the belief grows. Granted, injuries could derail things somewhat, so one or two more transfer windows may be needed. On the other hand, if fortune favours Spurs and players remain fit, who knows? I, for one, am strapping in for what could be a fantastic ride.

I hope your prose is prophetic
Our players look really athletic
A trophy in May
Will make us all say
Our football is no longer pathetic

I think that the good sense in the content you report is the key and your delivery is as entertaining as the Ange brand. You cover many of the issues occupying my mind – currently we have just a well-put together 11 or 12 (with Brennan Johnstone) and I can foresee issues once we pick up 1 or 2 injuries to any of the current lineup. I think this was most likely Ange’s thinking for the Fulham selection rather than giving the reserves a trial. I hope I’m wrong.
There is strength coming through the U-21 ranks – another 4-0 win without being at their best and without Harvey White – who is a very intelligent footballer with a wonderful left foot but now sold-on and Alfie Devine now out on loan but sure to be in the squad as back up to Maddison next season.

Hell,s teeth AANP. You’ve got a fan club! Of course, I am in total agreement with them but you,d never catch me saying it out loud. One needs to keep one’s boots on the pitch, don’t you know.

Anyway, I have a favour to ask. Unfortunately I should be in mid air for the Sheffield United game, so could you keep my seat warm please? However, should be down to earth (literally and metaphorically?) for both Arsenal, away and Liverpool, home. That should give us some idea of the not-to-be-mentioned scenario.

A perfect review of a near-perfect afternoon that we may all look back on in winter’s harsh reality as a glorious Wind in the Willows sleepy summer day.

I am absolutely addicted to your intelligent analysis, wonderful prose and understated humour – I have been on this site every day since the Sheffield United match praying for your safe return almost as much as I do for Bentancur.

Keep the whiskey/whisky flowing and make a speedy recovery.

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