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Tottenham top the Premier League once more as Ange Postecoglou’s band of brothers swat aside Fulham

Tottenham 2-0 Fulham (Son 36′, Maddison 54′)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR STADIUM — It is hard to tell which is more disconcerting – that Tottenham Hotspur will spend another week atop the Premier League or that they look as though they genuinely belong there.

With an effortlessly clinical dismantling of Fulham, Ange Postecoglou’s very merry band of brothers continued their best start to a season since 1960-61 thanks to goals from Heung-min Son and James Maddison.

The win ensured Postecoglou broke the record for the best start to a Premier League season after nine games and that his Spurs side remain unbeaten over 90 minutes.

Yet ahead of this game, perhaps more talk centred on off-field than on-field issues. Spurs, a club with a strong Jewish heritage and perceived identity, had come under criticism from parts of their Jewish fanbase for their decision to follow the Premier League’s lead in condemning “brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians” but not taking a political stance on the issue.

In the moments before kick-off, the stadium announcer called on fans to “hope and stand for peace”, with the ensuing minute’s silence punctuated by occasional cries of “long live Israel” and “viva Israel”. Multiple Israeli flags were visible, defying the Premier League’s ban on flags from either Israel or Palestine inside stadiums.

Once play began, Spurs’ best early chances came from three Maddison free-kicks, although opportunities from open play were limited in the first half-an-hour.

But as is rapidly becoming a trademark, Spurs continued to intensify the pressing and pressure until it became simply intolerable for their visitors. The increasingly unfortunate Calvin Bassey, whose Premier League career before today comprised two substitute cameos, one start and one red card, was twice embarrassed for Spurs’ opener. His pass to no-one was snaffled by a rampaging Micky van de Ven, who found Richarlison, who in turn found Son.

Bassey had recovered well enough to then run straight into Tim Ream, bouncing off each other like human dodgems. The Spurs captain dismissively glided past the ricocheting pair to whip a deft comet of a strike into Leno’s top corner.

Postecoglou’s side scored their first nine minutes before half-time courtesy of a Bassey mis-pass, and their second nine minutes after – from the same source. This time the former Rangers centre-back made it as far as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

September’s Premier League player of the month Son turned provider for August’s equivalent in Maddison, who took one touch with his left and finished with his right. The duo then lined up together to partake in Maddison’s trademark dart-throw celebration, before most of the line-up huddled together as one.

These were just two of a series of demonstrations of unmistakeably instinctive unity from the home players. Earlier on, Cristian Romero had squared up to Carlos Vinicius, who could barely move before Van de Ven barrelled in with an almost fraternal protective bond.

With Hojbjerg replacing the suspended Yves Bissouma here, seven of the home side have started every game this season, as well as Pape Matar Sarr and Pedro Porro both starting each of the last eight. Postecoglou’s renaissance of the good blokes has been aided by unrivalled consistency.

And past that, Tottenham simply appeared to have more space on the pitch than Fulham, than almost any other side in the league. Their passing is so sharp, their movement and interplay so intricate in such a short space of time, that they appear to physically bend the limits of a football pitch.

Contrasting the wild optimism of Spurs, visiting fans may be reasonably concerned that all their league wins so far this season have come against sides currently in the bottom five – Everton, Luton and Sheffield United. Fulham have not beaten Spurs for over a decade in the Premier League and that never looked like changing.

Logic would suggest that Postecoglou’s side will only become more unified, more fraternal, more clean and coordinated and cohesive. It may not be long before we get used to seeing Tottenham Hotspur with only fresh air and grand dreams above them in the table.

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