In a tense afternoon of football, Spurs came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 at home.
The Seagulls started well but faded later on. What did we learn as Spurs made it 14 games unbeaten on Boxing Day?
1. Harry Kane’s annual present
This is the time of year when Harry Kane always delivers. Like some sort of Chingford Santa Claus, the English striker is automatic on Boxing Day. Before today he had played four fixtures the day after Christmas and scored in every one of them for a total of seven goals. That’s an impressive record for such a specific time of year.
And again today the Spurs skipper was in sharpshooting form. For someone who can often be accused of a lack of pace, he never shied away from taking Brighton defenders on for speed and skill (even right at the end from the right-back spot). He scored twice, with one of them being ruled out for a nonsensical precision offside and the other, whilst it took two shots, was eventually finished off with a sumptuous half-volley. Kane now has eight goals in five Boxing Day games – only Robbie Fowler has more, and if he was Liverpool’s “God” then Harry Kane is surely Spurs’ own Personal Jesus.
Most Premier League goals scored on #BoxingDay
🏴 Robbie Fowler (9)
🏴 Harry Kane (8)
🏴 Alan Shearer (8)
🇮🇪 Robbie Keane (8)
VAR not taking away that one. pic.twitter.com/lJ8k0IE0Em
— Coral (@Coral) December 26, 2019
2. Harry Winks is the coal
If Kane was the present stuffed in the Spurs stocking then Harry Winks was definitely the lump of coal. The Englishman started the afternoon playing well and produced a beautiful through-pass for Kane’s disallowed goal. However, that refereeing decision seemed to switch his entire mood.
Winks was sloppy after that. He didn’t push the tempo as he did for Kane’s non-goal and just kept the ball calmly moving around midfield. That was okay if not sub-par for Spurs’ needs. Then he started flying into tackles and was extremely lucky to avoid a red card before being mercy-subbed as he edging towards being sent off. Winks can’t even hope for a quick rebound on New Year’s Day as his yellow card means he will miss the match vs. Norwich and will now have a week to wait before any more action.
3. Maty Ryan’s bad day
Brighton’s Australian goalkeeper Maty Ryan is a decent shot-stopper and has had a good season so far. Coming into Boxing Day he had the second-most saves amongst Premier League stoppers having faced the sixth-most shots. His save percentage of 71.88% is impressive without being outstanding. In short, he’s well-placed to help Brighton advance.
But at Spurs he had an afternoon to forget. It wasn’t like Spurs annihilated him, but he made a few errors at key moments that made a big difference to the game and could have done so even more were it not for some strokes of fortune. Early in the game he allowed Kane to score easily by rushing off his line with little conviction, and then for Kane’s opening goal whilst his initial save from the Englishman was good, he palmed the ball back into the danger zone rather than out and away. Ryan made no massive mistakes, but he was definitely the reason Spurs got back into the game.
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4. Dele is delirious
This is definitely the real Dele, isn’t it? As always the midfielder walked the fine line between nonsense and genius, and could have been sent off for an absurdly reckless aerial challenge – but he stayed on the field and that will anger Brighton greatly as the Englishman ended up being the match-winner with another moment of delirious dynamism.
Christian Eriksen spotted an overlapping Serge Aurier so lifted a lovely diagonal cross into the Ivorian, and Aurier clipped the ball back into the box for Dele to reach. But this was a hard shot, no sure thing at all. There was a defender in the way and Dele couldn’t generate much backlift. But did that stop him?
Dele Alli has now scored more Premier League goals this season (6) than he managed in the entire 2018/19 campaign (5).
Four of them have come under José Mourinho. ↗️↘️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/6MALqxVVEB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2019
Of course not. Dele contorted his body and then lifted the ball gently up and over Ryan. It was a frankly ridiculous expression of technique and skill, the kind of thing only those blessed with truly world-class talent are capable of. It was a stark reminder of just how delirious and special Dele is.
5. Spurs are all heart, no brains
Spurs keep on conceding goals. Yes – they keep on coming back and dragging their way to wins, but it’s quite clear that this is a dysfunctional side that doesn’t really play cohesive football. Occasionally Kane or Eriksen will produce a moment of magic to score or create a goal, but for the most part this is not a side that seems to ‘know’ how to unlock and break down defences.
Dele delivers & @SpursOfficial lead!
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 26, 2019
Spurs are loaded in terms of quality, and their players definitely have a sense of steel about them that Mourinho can exploit, but they are not a proper team. There is clearly no idea of how to attack and when Eriksen isn’t on directing traffic, Spurs look every bit as formless as Manchester United did under Mourinho just over a year ago.
Spurs will still win games, just as they won this one today, but if they keep on playing in such a disorganised mishmash manner then they will never progress to become the good side they want to be.