Tottenham’s relentless star quality overwhelms Cardiff – but can their squad carry them to a title?
New year, same old Spurs. Should they ever get that fancy new gaf finished on the Tottenham High Road, Spurs might be onto something. The 45 points registered in 2018 were the most of any Premier League team on the road. Few came easier than the three with which they began 2019.
Whether the Wolves defeat might have signalled a deeper malaise linked to the summer’s non-transfer policy was a washed up idea within 150 seconds, the time it took Harry Kane to fluke the complete set of goals against every Premier League team. They all count. A knee cap is as good as a boot. Besides, after the unravelling against Wolves at Wembley, during which he was booked for diving, Kane would have taken a goal of any hue.
Read more: Cardiff vs Tottenham Hotspur: Player ratings
Watching Kane it is sometimes possible to wonder how a striker who does not move at express pace, who is not particularly deft, manages to rule the world. Perhaps it is his innate appreciation of simplicity. There is nothing fancy about this old fashioned English centre crash. He gives and goes, he turns and runs towards the opponents goal, he shoots on sight and tracks back when required. And best of all he is a proper right place, right timer.
He didn’t know much about his 14th goal of the season. It was enough that he had spun away from his marker just inside Cardiff’s half, sent Kieran Trippier galloping down the right and occupied the requisite spot in the six-yard box when Sean Morrison’s attempted clearance was looking for a leg off which to rebound. Easy peasy.
Flurry of goals
As is customary, Christian Eriksen had the magic wand out on the edge of the Cardiff box to produce a trademark finish for Spurs’ second and his 45th in the Premier League. It wasn’t that Neil Etheridge couldn’t be bothered to dive. It wasn’t an option. The ball was past him before he could compute which muscles to engage.
Twenty-six minutes into the New Year, Cardiff would have walked in at 3-0 if offered. This might have been double. Taking manager Neil Warnock rather too literally with their reluctance to “breathe” on opponents in their own box for fear of conceding a penalty, Cardiff allowed Spurs to do as they pleased. The third was a peach; Moussa Sissoko ripping through Cardiff’s soft centre, Kane first time to Son Heung-Min, a couple of touches to clear the ball from under his feet, back of the net.
Warnock wandering as Spurs stroll through
Warnock, without the resource to make any difference at all nevertheless spent the match trying to look useful in the technical area. There is a school of thought that would have him the manager of the season, somehow guiding Cardiff out of the dead zone. The win at Leicester on Boxing Day was Cardiff’s fifth of the season and first away from home. All but the 4-2 trolling of Fulham have been by the odd goal. If Cardiff are to navigate safe passage this is how it must be, nicking results against the equally impoverished while hoping the big dogs keep it social. “We would have settled for four points for three games. Happy New Year,” Warnock said.
“You can’t give quality players a life. We wanted to put them under pressure with that result (Wolves) but it was a stroll. Pleased with second half, didn’t want to lose six to them. We were let down badly by one or two individuals not doing the roles, that disappointed me. I don’t think we were tired. It just looked like that because of the goals. They were too good for us.”
Spurs might easily have followed the Manchester clubs on to the stadium honours board with five-fers. Dele Alli was twice guilty of over-elaboration in the second half before making way. Danny Rose and Kane were denied by all-or-nothing tackles. And with time ebbing Sissoko opted to fill his own boots instead of feeding Kane’s.
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There was a rare sighting of Fernando Llorente, on for Alli, and 18-year-old Oliver Skipp was given another 15 minutes in place of the sitting Son as Mauricio Pochettino looked to the near and distant future. “We were clinical from the beginning and dominated the game. We have to congratulate the players. They were fantastic. They showed massive energy.” Pochettino said, succinctly summing up the game.
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