Following our wanderings from the San Siro to the Amex to Stadium MK in the space of eight days, we now head to the Kirklees for 3pm Saturday, virtually a year to the day since our last visit there.
Which, incidentally, saw us record our first league victory away to the Terriers since we dished out a 5-2 thwumping way back in the black & white days of 1954 (match report from Ronwol to follow 😊).
That 4-0 last season made it four out of four on the road for the mighty Tots following victories at Goodison, St James and (as Chauvelin rightly pointed out on the bloeug last week) what started out as the proverbial stroll in the Upton but soon disintegrated into what could have been the tossing away of a three-goal lead to those pikey little Spammers in Stratford.
Thanks to our sporadic home-form, though, we travelled to Huddersfield on eleven points this time last season, with a goal difference of plus five, one point and two goals worse off than we are this year.
I’m always slightly wary of simply comparing seasons by games played, though, as so much is dependent on how kindly or unkindly the fixtures fall, so I’ve taken a look at our results against the equivalent opponents last season to see how we fared, and have smacked myself in the mouth with the discovery that our stats are still ever so slightly better, this time by three points and two goals.
Which, being honest, just doesn’t seem possible given the fact our performances since United away have left so much to be desired.
Admittedly, trying to compare like-for-like this way involves some jiggery-pokery as I’ve had to swap last season’s home-draw against West Brom with this season’s home-win against Fulham (bottom of last season’s prem compared to the team which came up via the play-offs, so, theoretically, the weakest of the promoted and relegated sides), but, still, it at least shows that our premier league results are presently better than last time around, when we finished third, no matter what way you want to compare them, and no matter how negative some of the spin around this season’s performances have been over the past couple of weeks.
Still, though, something about Tottenham’s performances in the last eight days just doesn’t seem right, even though we’ve squeaked two and narrowly pipped another: To paraphrase something Nutty posted during the Brighton game, at times it’s just not been enjoyable to watch. Our five goals in those games have been a slight fluke from Eriksen, two penalties, and two great goals finished on the counter by Lamela, whereas four of the five conceded have come late, one being a great strike from a great striker given waaaaaaaayyyy too much space on the edge of our box, another being a shoddily defended corner, and the other two coming from counter attacks where we had been pressing the opposition high up the pitch rather than sitting back trying to protect what we had.
We also presented Brighton with a great chance straight after they’d scored in a very similar fashion, so, like Watford, that game could have ended two-two.
At this point in time, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve been nowhere near as resilient as our best performances under Poch, and nowhere near as exhilarating either.
Despite this, I don’t mind admitting I’m dumb (-dumb?) enough to walk away from pretty dire overall performances such as Wednesday’s Carabo Cup game against Watford or the late scare against Brighton with a greater sense of satisfaction than I got out of last season’s game against Huddersfield, which was pretty much done and dusted by the time Kane scored our third with a sumptuous spin and finish from the edge of the box in the 23rd minute: Other than the novelty of Sissoko scoring in injury time, who really remembers anything else about the majority of this game?
It’s all context, I guess, and a stroll in the park against a team you have no real rivalry with and totally outperform on the day just doesn’t get the blood thrumming and the Peroni tops popping the way a topsy-turvy ending can, even though our topsy-turvy endings in the last few games have been caused by shoddy performances at other points in the game.
Plus, in all three of the matches we’ve played since last Tuesday, I feel there have been hints of an overall return to aggressive pressing football with a goal-threat on the counter, and – towards the end of the Brighton game, at least – some actual proof that Harry Kane is… well, Harry Kane.
As slight as these hints have been, I never got the sense any were present in the games against Watford away and Dippers at Wembley.
I’d still rather sit through a stroll in the park this coming Saturday, though, so I’ll be hoping for a repeat of last season’s performance against Huddersfield, and another welcome three points ahead of the small matter of Messi & co at Wembley next Wednesday (for anyone wanting to watch either of these games on the net, by the way, I’m reliably informed they will be streaming in high-definition on hartleycam.co.uk).
The fact Huddersfield are having a pretty miserable season of it themselves at the moment, with only two points to their name and having been beaten 6-1 by City and 3-0 by Chelsea in their last two games (compared to something like nine points this time last season), suggests anything less than a repeat of our four-nil win really will represent this season’s first true backward step from Poch and the boys: It’s unlikely we’ll be the only ‘big’ team to lose to Dippers at home and Watford away before next May rolls around. A slip up against Huddersfield simply can’t be excused the same way.