Jermain Defoe will get most of the plaudits for this huge victory, and rightly so, but the striker will no doubt be among the first to praise the service he received from Niko Kranjcar and Aaron Lennon
Tottenham Hotspur 9
Crouch 9, Defoe 51, Defoe 54, Defoe 58, Lennon 64, Defoe 69, Defoe 87, Kirkland (og) 88, Kranjcar 90
Wigan Athletic 1
There is simply no containing Tottenham Hotspur on occasions such as these. To gawp at the sight of this team shredding Wigan was to acknowledge that, where Manchester City have the money and Liverpool the expectation, Spurs boast the firepower to keep them in the top four this term. At their slick best, this side is utterly irrepressible.
Jermain Defoe's seven-minute hat-trick, and a five-goal haul all plundered after half-time, took the breath away but this was a remarkable show of team attacking. Aaron Lennon, recovered from an ankle injury, and Niko Kranjcar offered contrasting if equally stunning play on either flank. Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios steamrollered a Wigan midfield that is normally physically imposing. The Latics departed the pitch a collection of quivering wrecks. Real psychological damage may have been inflicted.
For Spurs this result will merely swell conviction. They are back level with Arsenal, pepped by a nine-goal swing in goal difference this weekend and the memories of the frustrations endured at the Emirates and at home to Stoke have been partially erased. Wigan will survey the wreckage of this scoreline and wonder at the reality that, at half-time, it was Harry Redknapp who had been livid at the way this contest had been veering. Tottenham may have scored early through Peter Crouch but momentum had petered out and slackness set in. "They needed reminding at the break," said Redknapp. Lessons were heeded to devastating effect.
The helter-skelter nature of Tottenham's dominance thereafter, and Wigan's capitulation, was hard to comprehend. The goals that flurried were all horribly sloppy in their concession, yet ruthlessly taken: Defoe's thumped volley from close range evaded Titus Bramble; Emmerson Boyce failed to intercept Palacios's through-ball for the England striker to add an immediate third; another Lennon sprint to the by-line away from Erik Edman and centre for Defoe to complete the hat-trick.
Lennon added the fifth, spitting a low shot beyond a visibly shaken Kirkland and into the far corner, with Defoe's fourth and fifth both pilfered from that same area. By then, the visitors' resistance had evaporated. Edman's abject attempt to cut out the pass for the seventh summed up the Swede's hapless return to his former club, though the agony did not end there.
The substitute David Bentley's free-kick cannoned in via the woodwork and the back of Kirkland's head before Kranjcar spun and revelled in the ninth when the ball crashed in off the crossbar.
The wingers' displays were, in their own ways, as much of a fillip as Defoe's bite. Lennon's zip and improved awareness make him a full-back's nightmare these days. Edman looked a broken man at the final whistle and will be haunted by this experience for some time. Fabio Capello should be buoyed. Kranjcar's abilities are more sedate, his influence more serene but his clever passing illuminated Spurs' midfield, with the hustle and bustle of Palacios and Huddlestone in the centre eclipsing the Latics' shambolic attempts to stifle.
Wigan have never endured a defeat this comprehensive in their 31-year existence as a league club. In truth, they were lucky to ship only nine. Their manager, Roberto Martínez, has only been in management for a little over two years and admirably attempted to write this off as freak, though his team have conceded 31 times in 13 games now this term. "The result is not normal but I'm not bothered about the final scoreline," he said. "I'm more bothered about how naive we were. We'll get stronger from this. You learn a lot from situations like this and the damage of this game will not be carried into the next match. We have enough characters in the dressing room and will react the right way."
Their revival must begin at home to Sunderland on Saturday while Tottenham attempt to maintain momentum at Aston Villa. Their only blemish here – other than a first-half dip in their power and poise – was Paul Scharner's consolation, though even that should not have stood. The Austrian cradled Hugo Rodallega's cross with his right arm as blatantly as Thierry Henry had collected with his hand in the Stade de France last week, before belting his shot in off the bar. Robbie Keane, warming up on the touchline, must have wished the Republic of Ireland had been as clinical as his club-mates to render that handball irrelevant.
Spurs, of course, must now prove they have the pedigree to reproduce form this impressive regularly. The collision at Villa Park will test whether this really was a unique occasion, though few clubs in this division boast the attacking options now at Redknapp's disposal.
Jermaine Jenas, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane began this drubbing on the bench. How Arsenal, shorn of Robin van Persie, must privately wish they had this amount of firepower in reserve.