What’s it like to see a crowd?
Wembley was a bowl of white sprinkled with the red dots of the occasional empty seat. The anticipation and excitement was almost palpable as people sensed that history was being be made. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan.
On another day Lamela doesn’t get caught arseing about, Vertonghen and Davies (I think) don’t get themselves in a mess yards from goal, Son and Kane take gilt edge chances rather than spurn them and we run out easy winners. That wasn’t this day though.
And for my next trick…
Pochettino’s rabbit from the hat tonight was the despatching of Wanyama to the bench to join Dembélé with Lamela coming in to supplement Kane, Eriksen and Son in attack, and I use the word advisedly as our movement forward, apart from twenty minutes at the start of the second half was familiarly slow and sluggish. The switching of Alli to play alongside Dier was supposed to lift the forward thinking of the midfield but all it did was remove a reliable and speedy runner from the danger areas.
It did allow Poch to squeeze Lamela in though, only for him to have one of those games where everyone in the ground, all 85,011 of them, knew what was going to happen next whenever he got the ball and generally it wasn’t good.
You snooze, you lose
You could count the number of defensive errors we committed last season on one hand, here though we made two in the space of ten minutes and were made to pay for both of them. We had made a few half chances before they scored with their first attempt with Son’s miss after he had time to pick his spot being the hardest to take. We carried on pressuring but it was Monaco who scored next. Even after Toby pulled one back from Lamela’s corner just before half time we could have equalised before the interval (and a particularly unpleasant reintroduction to Wembley’s ridiculously loud sound system) had Alli been able stretch a leg out just a few inches further and make contact with a cross.
Bring on the cavalry!
It was the introduction of Dembélé for Son and the movement of Alli back to his most productive position that was the catalyst for our best period of the match, the twenty minutes after half time. We could have scored in this time and may well have gone on to win had we done so but as it was we huffed and puffed ourselves to a standstill and Monaco survived the last twenty minutes relatively comfortably, notwithstanding Harry’s late close range effort straight at the keeper. By that time Janssen and Sissoko had been brought on with Alli again being asked to swap position and plug gaps in the formation.
Most people afterwards seemed philosophical rather than angry. We didn’t deserve to lose and with Mousa back we did look more like the familiar team of earlier this year. Once he’s match fit, we’ll be alright.
We need Harry in a hurry
We rely heavily on Kane for goals in big games and he didn’t deliver. In such circumstances we then rely on the defence not to mess up. They too didn’t deliver.
C’est la vie.
We need a win now from at least one of our three away games to stand a chance of progress. Let’s take this fight to Moscow!
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