Tim Sherwood bagged his first home win as Tottenham Hotspur manager as his side saw off Stoke City 3-0 at White Hart Lane.
Roberto Soldado opened the scoring by converting a penalty in the first half, then strikes from Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon sealed a comfortable, dominant victory.
Tottenham started with purpose, controlling the ball and passing it around patiently, probing for openings.
It became immediately clear that Erik Pieters, playing at left-back for Stoke, had been targeted in the attacking strategy, and Spurs' forward line began interchanging to afford Aaron Lennon space to use.
The English winger continually bested his marker and worked good positions, and all that was needed was a strong final delivery to seemingly get the ball rolling.
After that, a few testers arrived, but Emmanuel Adebayor—a man in form—inexplicably failed to convert from five yards despite finding himself unchallenged. His shanked effort went sideways, hit Roberto Soldado's legs and ended up in Thomas Sorenson's grateful arms.
At this point, Stoke were playing almost exclusively on the counter, and aside from two chances—one to Jonathan Walters, one to Oussama Assaidi—the Spurs back line went largely untroubled.
The Assaidi chance was contentious, as replays suggest it was a foul (from behind) by Michael Dawson and a penalty should have been awarded.
The home side began working more and more outlets into the game, and after 30 minutes, Paulinho came alive. After being restored to the starting lineup upon completing a suspension, his tricks and flicks were out in full flow as he did his best to spark the attack.
Ezekiel Fryers, making his full Premier League debut, also looked fantastic, but it was the Soldado-Adebayor combination that eventually crumbled the Potters' resistance.
The Spaniard's accurate cross picked out his partner in the box, and as the former Arsenal man went to acrobatically turn home, Ryan Shawcross stuck both hands in the air to block the goal-bound shot.
Soldado stepped up to convert his fourth penalty of the season, with relief spreading quickly through the ranks of the home supporters.
The second half lacked flow for long periods, but individual moments of brilliance from Spurs brought the game to life.
After Charlie Adam fired a rare shot on goal from 30 yards, Dembele broke the shackles of the midfield and converted a stunning, fierce grass-cutter from distance.
The Stoke resolve then collapsed for good, and just minutes later a swift counter made it three: Soldado's cross was deflected into Lennon's path, and the winger hooked a delightful, expert finish into the top corner to seal the win.
There was even time for Erik Lamela to come on and enjoy himself, with the Spurs supporters fully behind Sherwood's attacking brand of football. After mustering 20 shots on goal and converting a trio of those, the terraces sloped out in a positive mood.
Stoke's total of two shots—with just one on target—is perhaps the most worrying statistic of the weekend.
Tim: "I thought we were excellent from start to finish and I’m really pleased with the performance." #THFC— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 29, 2013
Tim: "It’s really hard to single out individual players though because there were so many outstanding performances." #THFC— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 29, 2013
On New Year's Day, Spurs travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United, while Stoke host Everton at the Britannia Stadium.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!