At the risk of sounding like The Grinch, I have never really been a fan of Christmas, certainly not since I moved to Australia anyway. It’s strange but the older that I get, the more I realize that there is very little difference between the Christmas holidays and my sex life (or the sex life of any married man, for that matter). Firstly, the real excitement appears to lie in the anticipation of the event, rather than in the actual participating. Secondly, it rarely lives up to anyone’s expectations and finally, it is a rather underwhelming experience for all concerned. Not to mention the fact that it also only comes once a year! Now try to imagine going through all of that disappointment and misplaced hope in 40 degree heat and you can understand why my enthusiasm is waning….amongst other things apparently. And to make matters worse, this year we got the added kicker of George Michael’s untimely death to contend with, as if 2016 hadn’t already been more devastating to the celebrity community than an in-form Aaron Ramsey. This Christmas, it took one of our own. I only found out after the event that George Michael was a massive Yiddo, which not only saddened me but also came as a huge surprise, as I always had him down as a Cottager…….
Anyway, enough depressing shit. As they did last year, Tottenham’s performances carried me through the festive period and one man in particular was responsible for rekindling my childlike sense of Christmas wonder……Dele Alli, take a bow son. Your name may sound like a row of small, up-market sandwich shops but you have single handedly saved my Christmas! Is there nothing that this kid cannot do? His performances over the festive period have been nothing short of remarkable and as a result, our form has gone through the roof. I don’t think I am getting carried away when I say that Dele Alli is the greatest thing to come out of Milton Keynes since…..well, nothing good has EVER come out of Milton Keynes until now, so I have nowhere to go with this reference. Still, if Hull can be awarded the City of Culture Award for 2017 then I suppose that there is still hope, even for a dump like Milton Keynes. As I write this, our very own boy wonder currently has as many goals to his name in 2017 as there have been days in the year. Admittedly, it is only the 4th of January but that is still a very impressive statistic….however I have a feeling that it’s going to be very difficult to maintain for much longer. Unbelievably, he has managed to score a brace in each of his last three games from midfield, which is why he is justifiably drawing glowing comparisons to a young Frank Lampard……just without being encumbered with the physique of a professional darts player, of course.
Despite his heroics, it would be remiss of me to imply that Dele Alli did this all on his own. It has been a team effort and everyone has been pulling their weight but it is the return to form of another key player that has really galvanized our change in fortunes over the last five games. The Christmas period is generally when you would expect the Christians to come into their own and that is exactly what has happened to our very own little Christian, who appears to be back to his diminutive best. Despite enduring a shaky start to the season, which was overshadowed by contract disputes, Christian Eriksen has risen above all of this to show his class in the last few months. Just to put his 2016 in to context, Eriksen has actually provided 12 assists and scored 9 goals in the Premier League, compared to Arsenal’s “assist king” Mesut Ozil, who has scored 8 and assisted only 6. This is all the more impressive when you consider that Ozil’s eyes are permanently loitering in an offside position! Combine this return to form with Dele’s recent resurgence and it is no surprise that Spurs have won all 5 of our last games, scoring 15 and conceding only 3. Of course, as I said before, it is a team effort and the likes of Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and Victor Wanyama should not be overlooked but when Dele Alli is making all the right runs and Christian Eriksen is pulling all the strings, we look a totally different proposition. Somehow, they have even managed to make Moussa Sissoko look half decent. Truly, this must be some sort of Christmas miracle!
Without taking anything away from the victories at Southampton (we were only the 2nd team to win at St.Mary’s in 2016) and the slapstick defending of Watford, the litmus test really came against Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. If we genuinely had any title aspirations, this was a must win game. And win we most certainly did. As previously mentioned, Dele Alli won us the game with two goals, both perfectly placed headers from two laser-guided Eriksen assists. For a player who is normally recognized for his nimble footwork, I sat mesmerized as Dele rose like a salmon at the far post, not once but twice to beat Thibault Courtois…..our very own little Christmas jumper. Anyway, we managed to end Chelsea’s latest Cup Final with ruthless efficiency as we restricted them to hopeful shots from distance and set pieces. Toby Alderweireld had Diego Costa in his pocket for the entire game and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Hugo Lloris had taken the time to send out all of his Happy New Years text messages, such was his actual involvement in the game. After last years “Battle of the Bridge”, this was the result that every Spurs fan was gagging for and I am not ashamed to say that it made both my Christmas and my New Year in one fell swoop. We now have the best defence in the league and are 6 points better off than we were at this stage last year. In fact, when you look at the statistics, Tottenham are becoming quite a Christmassy club. Not only because we sell quite a snappy range of festive knitwear in the Club Shop (on sale now) but mostly because over the last two years, we have claimed 22 points from a potential 24 on offer over the festive periods. It seems that we play our best football in December/January, so I for one may be forced to revise my views on both Christmas and the prospect of a Winter break. You know what? Fuck it. If we keep playing like this, I wish it could be Christmas every day. It would even be worth the inevitable heat stroke and dodgy seafood BBQ's.
Unfortunately, the Christmas period is now long gone and the harsh realities of 2017 are starting to set in. Before Dele Alli had even finished celebrating his second goal against Chelsea, Florentino Perez was already dusting off his copy of our “special relationship” handbook and re-adding Daniel Levy’s mobile number into his speed dial. Based on his recent form and the fact that he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award last year, I am genuinely surprised that it has taken Perez this long to start grooming his latest youngster. I suppose that this is always going to be the price of success. But rest assured, I for one am not worried about Real Madrid……at least not yet. Having only recently signed a new 5 year deal with the club and being an integral cog in Mauricio Pochettino’s future plans, I am quietly confident that a Dele is for life, not just for Christmas.