Spurs traveled north into Scotland and paid Hearts a visit at Tynecastle in the qualifying round of the Europa League last week. Harry Redknapp has made no secret of his dislike of the Europa League mainly because of the scheduling and the possibility of long distance travel. He was very public as were his assistant coaches that many of the younger players would be appearing in the Europa League matches, so senior players can focus on league matches as Spurs turn their attention to a Champions League spot and possibility of the league title. However, Harry didn’t want to underestimate Hearts and took many of his key starters to Tynecastle. Harry fielded a mix of young and first team players. Spurs provided an excellent display of their talent and ability with a complete destruction of Hearts ending in a 5-0 victory for the north London side.
In watching the first half of the match I was in awe with the speed, passing and the flow that Spurs provided on the pitch. I think Spurs went into the match with a healthy respect for their opponent. I was truly delighted in what I witnessed. I think this was one of their best matches that I have seen them play in a very long time. What I liked was the fusion of the established players along the young players of the club. Harry put together a very impressive squad.
Redknapp went with Gomes in goal, which I had a feeling he would. Give credit to Gomes he did keep a clean sheet. However, in evaluating his performance I am not convinced that he should be the starting goalkeeper. I witnessed some of the same silly and sloppy errors. However, the defense did a very good job in clearing the box of danger particularly in the first ten minutes of the second half when Hearts were really threatening.
With all the stories I have read concerning the ultimate fate of Modric. I was pleased how well the midfield performed against Hearts. Both Modric and Sandro were absent from the match due to injury. As I have stated in pervious articles I am still yet to be sold on the ability of Sandro. I firmly believe he requires more time to establish himself as a regular first team player. If Modric is to be sold to Chelsea I think the club will do just fine as displayed on Thursday night. If Spurs wanted to tell their critics that they are a dead team without Modric I think their display in Scotland would suggest otherwise. Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjcar, Gareth Bale and Jake Livermore along with Rafael van der Vaart did a marvelous job in the midfield with Rafael van der Vaart scoring a goal within five minutes of play. Hearts did a poor job containing the Dutch midfielder further demonstrating what a great deal van der Vaart has been for the club. I really hope to see more of Jake Livermore in the regular squad. I thought he did a fantastic job along with Kranjcar in the center of the midfield. Kranjcar had been sidelined for much of last season but did remarkable well in this game and dominated the center midfield as Harry stated in the post match summary. I still think Harry plans to sell Kranjcar but he certainly helped his case for a possible future at Spurs. If nothing else Kranjcar provided an excellent display for any possible buyers. The speed and the mobility provided by Bale and Lennon were excellent with both scoring goals. The introduction of Andros Townsend shows that Spurs has a wealth of young talent, which Harry should use more often instead of loaning them out.
The defense under the leadership of Michael Dawson showcased a stellar performance. I thought and said previously that Kyle Walker is the future at Tottenham. Walker provided a strong defense and disrupted any attempts by Hearts to score. Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou Ekotto did very well and I think Walker could be the new right back for the team. Of course there is Danny Rose, who I believe is another young player with a strong future at Spurs. I would still prefer Harry to bring in a new center back because King and Gallas will not be long term solutions. King may follow Woodgate out the door at the end of the season unless he can stay fit and healthy. I have been a fan of Gary Cahill and what I saw of his delivery against QPR strengthen the case that Harry should bring him to White Hart Lane.
With all the misery of last season for Jermain Defoe I really enjoyed watching him play. He produced a memorable night. Defoe scored the second goal and delivered the necessary assists on the pitch and he appeared back to his old form, which is good news for Spurs as they evaluate their striker dilemma. I still believe a new striker needs to be introduced into the squad but I was delighted in what I saw in Defoe on Thursday night, which gives me hope.
After missing the opening match against Everton due to the London riots it was refreshing to see a stellar accomplishment. Tottenham have one of most talent group of players in the league. On Thursday night they showcased their talent and skill against Hearts and provide ammunition to all of those individuals who have been questioning or doubting whether Spurs can place in the top four. Some may look to Hearts management problems as an excuse to their weak performance. Since December 2005 under the ownership of Vladimir Romanov Hearts have gone through nine managers (the longest tenure just 20 months) and certainly that can create a sense of instability within the squad or a lack of confidence. However they did finished third in the Scottish Premier League last season and that would suggest even with all the management difficulties they are a competitive club. Tottenham had a very impressive win against the third best performing club in Scotland.
Tottenham should walk away from this victory with a sense of pride and accomplishment as they travel to Old Trafford and take on the league champions on Monday night. If Tottenham can continue and repeat that breathtaking performance against Hearts throughout the rest of the season they could be an unstoppable club in the English Premier League.