Tottenham earned an invaluable 4-0 win over Bournemouth, sustaining their home winning streak and temporarily closing the gap to Chelsea at the top.
Perhaps most remarkably — this twelfth consecutive home win matches a 50 year old record for Tottenham. There is an unstoppable air about the club.
Harry Kane’s return to the lineup heralded great things, but it was a truly team effort to bury the Cherries in Saturday’s early match.
With Kane leading a full-strength attack, it’s no small wonder that Bournemouth found themselves leaning on their heels early in the first half.
Among Spurs’ early chances was a well-struck effort from Mousa Dembélé. Hovering outside the area, the Belgian received the ball right on the edge and sent a shot fizzing along the turf to the near post. Artur Boruc was equal to the effort though and kept Dembélé’s effort out.
Never known for his goals, such a display of attacking bite seemed at first to be the sum total of Dembélé’s offensive contribution on the day. Minutes later, however, he defied expectations.
A narrowly won corner saw Christian Eriksen send a arching ball into the box. Dembélé, free of his marker, expertly controlled the ball and smacked it into the back of the net.
Their lead secured, Tottenham declined to let off the gas. Eddie Howe wants his Bournemouth side to build up play rather than hoping for the best with punted balls. In many cases this means a calmer, more deliberate attack — and with players like Josh King on the end of a string of passes it often works out well for the Cherries.
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Against Spurs’ maelstrom of a midfield, such tactics actually work against them. Dembélé, Eriksen and Dele Alli are all primed to exploit the missed pass, the awkward control, the briefest moment of hesitation. No team can hope to avoid those relatively minor mistakes over the course of the game.
Three minutes after Dembélé’s opener, on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere attempted to get the ball forward — specifically around Eric Dier. The England international again proved his value as a wall, and the deflected ball ended up at Kane’s feet. One simple pass and a manic Heung-min Son dribble later, and Spurs’ lead was doubled.
It was the South Korean’s fourth goal in the past three games. For perhaps the first time in his Tottenham career, there’s a sense that Son definitely gets the Premier League. This might not be just another streak.
Bournemouth were supremely lucky to not concede a third, fourth or fifth goal before the interval. With Mauricio Pochettino bellowing from the sidelines, Spurs never let off.
Nor did they content themselves with a mere two goal margin after half-time. Within three minutes Kane added his first goal since coming back from injury. He was unlucky not to add to that tally just minutes later.
The second half continued on much as the first. Bournemouth were virtually without answers to Tottenham’s onslaught.
Further chances from Kane, Son, Dele and Eriksen all failed to get past Boruc, but the fourth goal was coming inevitably.
As it happened, it came from an unexpected source. With Pochettino subbing off his key players after the win became assured, Vincent Janssen found himself on the pitch.
The Dutchman has struggled to find his footing at Tottenham in his debut season. Until Saturday he hadn’t scored a non-penalty Premier League goal for the club.
In stoppage time, however, his moment game. A deflected shot fell into his path and Janssen slotted it through. The match would end 4-0 in Spurs’ favor.
Janssen’s goal was superfluous, but felt exactly in keeping with Spurs’ momentum. In contrast to last season, the club are entering the final weeks seemingly possessed with the belief that anything is possible.