Glory glory hallelujah, the next crucial stage in the development of Andre Villas Boas’s new Tottenham has been reached - the team has started making chances. After weeks of wondering whether they would ever be capable of creating more than a couple of openings a game, yesterday the trickle suddenly became an avalanche - 31 goal attempts and 14 shots on target.
Why the sudden potency? Mostly it was because AVB, as is his wont, did the right thing with his team selection, going for craft over graft. Out went the laudably busy but relatively unsubtle Holtby, Lennon and Sandro and in came Dembele, Sigurdsson and Eriksen and although these individuals had mixed afternoons their collective presence seemed to give the team a panache and spontaneity that had hitherto been absent.
The consequence was that this 1-0 defeat was far more a cause for optimism than the previous home league game - the 1-0 win over Hull. That Spurs didn’t score in the first half was remarkable enough but the clean sheet Newcastle kept in the second was little short of miraculous.
AVB’s only misstep was his decision not to introduce Erik Lamela at any stage following his match winning Europa League display last Thursday. What might the newly confident Argentinian have conjured up in the closing stages had he been brought on for the fading Sigurdsson instead of Defoe, whose contribution was always likely to be more one dimensional?
Now the team and the fans need to see this performance - the best attacking display this season - as the beginning of a new and exciting phase in the team’s gelling process. After the unwelcome international break AVB and his men must maintain this exuberance for the stern tests that await them, specifically Manchester City away and United at home in the next two league games.
Not since records began in 2006 has a goalkeeper made more saves in a single game than Tim Krul did yesterday in a performance he described as the highlight of his career so far. When you consider this, the boos that came from some sections of the home support on 90 minutes were unwarranted and the welcome defeats later in the day of City and Arsenal ensured that no substantial ground has been lost in the race for the top spots. Indeed the weekend suggested once again that this season will see all the top teams dropping points with uncommon regularity, which means that improving Spurs are as in the mix as anyone.