And the real version seems to have shed themselves from their funk and are headed back to the top half of the table under Big Sam. One can only hope that sixth place is our floor this season—it certainly appears to be our ceiling.
Lucky to get the point given Doucoure’s blast off the post and Martin Atkinson generous interpretation of the handball rule at the death? Yes, we were. Unlucky that Davinson Sanchez’ aggression was, in one error of judgment, responsible for the total change in the game’s direction? I guess, though my instant reaction was that it was probably a red, and while on occasion a sending-off doesn’t accompany a foul such as that one, I can’t argue the case.
The bigger issue was that the game was only level at that point. The dreadful early goal reared its ugly head again, as after ten minutes or so of Spurs being totally on the front foot, the first real Watford attack led to a corner and somehow Kabasele wasn’t marked and there we were again—as with United, Arsenal, West Bromwich, Leicester—and Dortmund, come to think of it—behind. The response was immediate as MOTM Kieran Trippier played a lovely ball forward to Christian Eriksen who found Heung Min Son for the easy goal. But that was it. There were a few moments after we went down a man, though none as promising as Doucoure’s chance. But the team got more tired—understandably—and it became obvious a draw would be the best outcome. Perhaps the most telling moment was with about five minutes left, Trippier and Sissoko combined to break free down the right wing, centered the ball to Kane in space with all sorts of possibilities in front of him, but one heavy touch and the chance was gone.
And so pretty much is our ambitions to stay in the Champions League, unless we can do a Chelsea 2012 number and win the darn thing. As for individuals today, Kane might have been fit entering action, but he soon got a knock and never seemed 100% as he hasn’t for most of the time since the Liverpool game. Eriksen played better than his last two desultory efforts, but his early removal in favour of Sissoko—who set up a couple of good chances and nearly had one himself—suggests Pochettino is still not completely convinced he’s back in form. Son was aggressive—too much so at times as I counted at least six offside violations. Dele played well, but all four attackers were still missing that collective or clinical talent to boss the game. Davies had a poor game, and both he and Vertonghen made near-disastrous slips near the end that could have swung the game to the HHornets. Dembele was active but missing that final pass or conversion to make his energy and physicality pay off. Dier was, but for the unfortunate handball he got away with, fairly resolute.
As for Sanchez I have been quick to sing his praises. But this is now three mistakes in the past several weeks that have cost Spurs dearly. He allowed Rondon to score the opener at Wembley; he gave Vardy far too much space for the opener on Tuesday; and now this. Poch went to a back four today, and I wonder if Juan Foyth, who will almost certainly be given the start vs Apoel, might start rotating as Aldeweireld will clearly miss all the remaining games in the calendar year and, from the look of things, a while after that.
This is now a retrenchment year in which the two cups—foreign and domestic—must take priority over the league. I could see us catching one of Arsenal or Liverpool—but both? Not with this squad, not with these problems.
What are your thoughts? Have your say below