We ended 2013 in fine style at White Hart Lane on Sunday as goals from Roberto Soldado, Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon saw us defeat Stoke City 3-0 to register our biggest Premier League win of the campaign so far.
Soldado gave us the lead in the 36th minute from the penalty spot – his 10th goal in our colours – before two goals in four second half minutes from Dembele and Lennon sealed the win and brought the curtain down on 2013 on a positive note.
Head Coach Tim Sherwood shuffled his pack and made five changes from the side which drew 1-1 here against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day, with Kyle Naughton, Zeki Fryers, Aaron Lennon, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele coming in for Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Nacer Chadli, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson respectively.
Both sides saw early glimpses of goal, with Christian Eriksen drilling a 25-yard free-kick into Stoke’s defensive wall, while on eight minutes the visitors had shouts for a penalty when Jon Walters went down under the challenge of Fryers but referee Kevin Friend waved away their appeals.
After that though it was pretty much one-way traffic throughout. Michael Dawson volleyed well wide from 12 yards out when he got on the end of Eriksen’s corner on 11 minutes and four minutes later we almost went ahead.
Naughton’s fine ball inside Erik Pieters found Lennon dashing to the byline and his cut-back fell to Emmanuel Adebayor but he didn’t connect properly with his side-footed effort from eight yards. Eriksen, at the far post, was surprised to see the ball come to him and he also couldn’t convert.
Soldado then sent a half-volley just past Thomas Sorensen’s far post when he latched on to Paulinho’s delightful back-heeled flick, before some excellent one-touch football between Emmanuel Adebayor, Paulinho and Eriksen saw the Dane released down the left channel of the area, but good covering from Andy Wilkinson denied him the opportunity to shoot.
We kept piling on the pressure, dominating possession and chances created and on 32 minutes, Lennon’s deep cross was collected wide on the left by Fryers who delivered a delightful centre which Soldado glanced goalwards but again, just past the far post.
Four minutes later though the Spaniard opened the scoring. He created the chance, sending over a chipped cross which Adebayor controlled on his chest and his attempted scissor-kick hit Shawcross’s hand. The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped Soldado to coolly send Sorensen the wrong way and slide his penalty into the bottom left-hand corner or the net.
We finished the half on the front foot when Paulinho latched on to Oussama Assaidi’s loose pass 30 yards from goal, the Brazilian midfielder driving forward but he lashed his shot wide from the edge of the area.
And the second period started in the same fashion, with Paulinho the recipient of a fortunate rebound in the area but he again failed to find the target, before Eriksen’s low drive was a comfortable save for Sorensen.
Soldado almost had his second of the game in the 58th minute following a swift breakaway led by the excellent Dembele. He burst through the centre of midfield before sliding a pass to Lennon down the right, he cut the ball back slightly behind the Spaniard and his effort from eight yards bounced up into the arms of Sorensen.
An injury to Paulinho saw him replaced by Etienne Capoue in the 62nd minute, while we continued with our attacking impetus, Eriksen testing Sorensen low down to his right with a 20-yard drive with the keeper gathered at the second attempt.
But the Stoke stopper could do nothing to prevent our second goal a minute later. Dembele picked up possession 20 yards out, shaped to go one way, cut back and then drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner, a fine goal and richly deserved.
And 2-0 quickly became 3-0! Just four minutes later, another rapid break saw Eriksen pass inside to Adebayor and he knocked it out wide to Soldado, who in turn played it back across to Lennon. The winger took one touch and hit a dipping volley which flew into the top corner of the visitors’ net as our dominance was turning into goals.
That was Lennon’s last contribution as he made way for Erik Lamela and the Argentine’s first touch almost resulted in goal number four. Jermaine Pennant’s wayward backward pass was collected by Adebayor who released Lamela and only a last-ditch block from Ryan Shawcross denied him a goal.
Just to underline how on top we were, it wasn’t until the 84th minute that the visitors had their first effort on target, former Spur Peter Crouch heading Pennant’s cross straight into Hugo Lloris’ arms.
But the final chance of the day fell to Soldado, after Nacer Chadli released him down the left but his effort went across the face of the goal with no-one to apply the finishing touch. By then though, the damage had well and truly been done.
Spurs: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Chiriches, Fryers, Lennon (Lamela 75), Dembele, Paulinho (Capoue 62), Eriksen, Soldado, Adebayor (Chadli 80). Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Fredericks, Veljkovic, Bentaleb.
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Muniesa 81), Shawcross, Cameron, Pieters, Assaidi, N’Zonzi, Palacios (Pennant 69), Ireland (Adam 50), Crouch, Walters. Substitutes (not used): Butland, Etherington, Ness, Jones.
Goals: Spurs – Soldado penalty 36, Dembele 65, Lennon 69.
Yellows: Spurs – Dembele, Lamela; Stoke – Walters, Shawcross.
Referee: Kevin Friend.