Three talking points as Tottenham romped to a five-goal victory over struggling Stoke City
Harry Kane’s double helped Tottenham return to winning ways in the Premier League as Mauricio Pochettino’s side easily swept aside a poor Stoke City at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Going into Saturday’s clash without a league win in four matches, the hosts started brightly and got the opener in fortunate circumstances when Ryan Shawcross deflected a low cross into his own net.
Stoke rarely threatened Hugo Lloris in a one-way first-half and it was Tottenham who should have gone into the break two to the good only for Harry Kane to tuck a shot wide when put clean through.
The visitors capitulated in the second-half though, and three goals in a ruthless 12-minute spell from Son Heung-min and Kane – whose second strike was a sublime low finish – put the result beyond any doubt.
Pochettino’s men weren’t done there though, and Son was afforded the freedom of the Wembley Stadium pitch on the counter-attack to thread a pinpoint ball through for Christian Eriksen to add a clinical fifth.
Shawcross did atone for his earlier own goal with a late consolation but Mark Hughes’ side now drop down to 15th, just three points above the relegation zone, whilst Spurs momentarily move above Arsenal.
Spurs claim much-needed league victory
Whilst their Champions League exploits have been catching the eye, Tottenham’s recent Premier League form has left a lot to be desired and they already find themselves all but out of the title race.
Heading into Saturday’s clash 18 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City, and with just a solitary league win to their name in the last six matches, they needed a positive result against Stoke.
Whilst a lot has been said about their form at Wembley this season they were never really tested against a woeful Potters side and it’s no exaggeration to say that Spurs could have scored a lot more.
It seemed that the frustrations of the past few months had finally boiled over and came out in an explosive display on the pitch, with Stoke the unfortunate recipients of a Spurs backlash, and Pochettino would no doubt have been pleased with the way his side ruthlessly picked them apart.
The first goal may have come with a huge slice of luck but it’s the way that the hosts completely played Stoke off the pitch in the second-half that will renew hopes of finishing inside the top four.
Dele Alli had his best game in a Tottenham shirt for a while, Christian Eriksen was back scoring, Son Heung-Min continued his excellent recent form and Harry Winks put in another classy midfield performance, whilst another cameo role from Erik Lamela was a pleasing sight for Tottenham fans.
They may still be a long way from rekindling their fluency from White Hart Lane last year but such a big win could prove to be the catalyst for an upturn in Tottenham fortunes and offer a timely morale boost.
Kane reaches milestone as prolific year continues
In a week where Tottenham striker Harry Kane was announced as the tenth-best footballer in the world at the Ballon d’Or ceremony there was almost an inevitability about the fact he would score.
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that the 24-year-old is one of the most prolific strikers at the moment, and he was in full flow on Saturday as his quick-fire double blew away a hapless Stoke City.
The Potters must be sick of the sight of Kane as, just months after striking a 23-minute hat-trick at White Hart Lane the last time the two sides met, he took his tally to eight in his last four games against them.
He rose highest above Ryan Shawcross to nod in his first of the afternoon but it was his second that deserves the plaudits, controlling the ball on the edge of the area before placing low in the corner and past the despairing dive of Jack Butland, signalling Kane’s 50th goal of an incredible 2017.
It also brought up his 90th Premier League goal in just 131 appearances – only Alan Shearer has reached that milestone in less games (113) – and Kane just shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Is Hughes running on borrowed time?
For all the talk of Tottenham finding some sort of rhythm on Saturday afternoon, nothing can excuse the abject performance that Stoke City put in.
It was certainly a harrowing afternoon for Stoke manager Mark Hughes, who will no doubt be starting to worry about his future after seeing his side drop down the Premier League table to 15th.
Three defeats in their last four matches have seen the Potters gradually fall closer and closer to the relegation zone and defeat to Tottenham now leaves them precariously placed three points outside.
Whilst they managed to hold their own during the first-half without offering any real threat themselves the manner in which they capitulated after the break will be a real concern as Spurs weren’t made to work hard for their goals, and the Potters’ defence was cut apart way too easily.
The current problems at the club were perhaps personified in Tottenham’s fifth, which came from an offensive corner for Stoke, where not a single player put in the effort to track back and help out.
As alluded to earlier it’s no exaggeration to say it could have been an even more demoralising final score had it not been for some heroics from Butland, who denied Eriksen and Kane brilliantly late on.
The warning signs are starting to flash and Hughes will know that there needs to be a big response against Burnley on Tuesday night or he could be the next top-flight manager staring down the barrel.
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