You could see the relief on Vincent Janssen’s face when he scored from the penalty spot in the midst of Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 shellacking of Gillingham in the EFL Cup Wednesday night. It was his first ever Tottenham goal and it finally broke what has felt at times like a long streak of bad luck for the Dutch striker.
Turns out, he might not have taken that penalty kick at all. Christian Eriksen was sitting on a brace and could have easily gotten his hatty, but he gave up the chance for his third in order to get Janssen on the tally sheet.
"I did think about it but I saw on Vincent's face and in his body language that he really wanted, it and you can feel for a striker.
"And it is not as important for me. Two or three goals, it doesn't really matter. We had so many chances and we should have scored a few each in the first half, so I was happy for him also and he did say thank you also so it was a good one.
"Also especially today in the first half he had a lot of shots. I think normally he would have scored, but he was a bit relaxed after that and I think if you give him a penalty there is no better chance for a striker to score an easy goal.
Strikers are mercurial, superstitious beasts who are prone to getting stuck in their own head at times. A striker’s one job is to score goals, and it often feels that if they’re on a cold streak or are off their game for whatever reason the effect can snowball. And as we’ve seen with Harry Kane last season, sometimes all it takes is one goal to get that monkey off your back and start scoring again.
Janssen, in particular, has seemed a bit snakebit in his early appearances for Spurs. Against Gillingham he had numerous opportunities that just wouldn’t go in, and in his earlier matches in the Premier League he’s come close... but just hasn’t been able to put it in the ol’ onion bag. It’s probably incredibly frustrating for a player who scored 27 goals in the Eredivisie last season.
So hats off to Christian, who did the decent thing and gave up hat-trick glory to give his teammate his first ever Tottenham goal and, hopefully, a chance to really kick on. He’ll need that confidence over the next two months as he fills in for Harry Kane.
Another example of how this Spurs team is incredibly unselfish, playing for each other and reaping the benefits that good teamwork and collegiality provides. Long may it continue.