Tottenham Hotspur earned a 3-2 win over Swansea at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening, and while things got tense there at the end it wasn't at all a bad performance. Tottenham played on the whole exceptionally well, dictating play, keeping possession, and scoring three times. While they let in two goals off of minor defensive lapses (and fantastic shots), it's difficult to say that anyone played especially poorly.
And in fact, the stand-out performances came not from the usual sources but from Ryan Mason and Danny Rose, two young players who fans (and writers) have criticized as much as praised in recent games. Both Mason and Rose have legitimate claims to our Man of the Match award, so let's lay it out there and let you decide in the comments.
Ryan Mason had perhaps his best match in a Tottenham shirt on Wednesday. Aided by Swansea's baffling decision not to press the midfield for more than 5-10 minutes the entire game, Mason was given room to operate in midfield and it brought out the best in his game. He was able to move easily and find space in midfield, which allowed him to lift his head and more easily find open teammates for passes. This same space allowed Mason to make several secondary runs into the box, something we've been clamoring for and which seemed to completely catch Swansea by surprise. One such run led to his first Premier League goal which put Spurs up 2-1.
This match was Mason at his best. We've been hard on him in the past, perhaps overly so, but nobody wants him to fail and his performance rightfully deserves praise. The Swansea match seemed to indicate that given enough time on the ball Mason can not only display good decision making, but fantastic vision in knowing where his teammates will be and when to make those forward runs to draw away defenders. On Wednesday he was the box-to-box midfielder we all expected Paulinho to be when we purchased him. A very good all-around game from Ryan.
Danny Rose has not always been known for his defensive tenacity at Tottenham – that's been more Ben Davies' bailiwick. Rose is known more for getting forward on the left flank and putting in crosses, and while this is wonderful stuff it can often lead to breakdowns in defense if he's not defensively disciplined. On Wednesday, Rose was on his A-game. Not only did his pass to Christian Eriksen help set up Ryan Mason's second half goal, he also assisted Chadli's goal, and kept Wayne Routledge firmly in his pocket the entire match. He also tamped down his propensity towards dumb tackles in defense, as his positioning was solid enough that he never really had to resort to such measures. He barely put a foot wrong.
Rose's crosses were likewise on target and well-envisioned – we actually scored off one, which is a minor miracle in itself. Again, he was helped by Swansea's bewildering tactics, and he also played behind Nacer Chadli for most of the match and not Christian Eriksen who tends to drift centrally more often leaving the left side more exposed. But let's not take away anything from Rose's performance. This is the Danny Rose we all hoped he'd be after his loan at Sunderland, and if he plays like this consistently not only will he keep Ben Davies out of the side but we'll all scream at him a heck of a lot less.
Christian Eriksen/Hugo Lloris/someone else
Tottenham played very well, and I'd be remiss in not mentioning Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris as MOTM candidates, since both were pretty fantastic. Eriksen had the assist for Mason's goal and was his usual dynamic playmaking self in the #10 role behind Kane. Lloris had that astounding save in the dying moments of the match and while he possibly would like to have that Ki goal back, it was a well placed ball from an acute angle that got past him. The reason I'm including them here is to acknowledge that yes, they both have MOTM shouts, but a) I feel Rose and Mason put in better performances, and b) it feels like we give it to Eriksen, Lloris, or Kane all the damn time when they play decently well. But if you feel strongly enough, by all means, give them their due and explain your choice in the comments.