It was interesting to hear Tim Sherwood´s remarks after the Arsenal match.
He did not think we were overrun or outnumbered in midfield, which did appear to be the case, but statistically we had slightly more possession and only one shot on goal less so he does actually have a point. When Le Arse had the ball they used it better and took their chances when we did not.
He then took the opportunity to suggest that his players were fatigued after a hefty Christmas schedule, which again is true, but Le Arse had played nine times in the previous 35 days or so, we have played just one more.
He finished by giving the excuse that we had a long injury list, again no word of a lie with the likes of Vertonghen, Sandro, Townsend plus others all out, yet he failed to mention that Le Arse have a similar problem – without Giroud, Ramsey and Ozil (okay the latter was on the bench but clearly not fit) and some fringe players unable to play.
All these are excuses but in reality there is no excuse. Regrettably the simple truth is we did not play particularly well, we competed, but were found out. They were better than us – again.
Was their first goal down to defensive deficiencies or just particularly good running on and off the ball by their players? I suggest a bit of both with the emphasis on the latter.
Their second, however, was purely down to bad play on our part. Soldado had loads of room wide left and could, should have lumped the ball into the area where Dawson and Chiriches were still waiting. Instead he played the ball infield and back where Rose dallied, was pressured and dispossessed and then failed to track back. Walker almost got there but it was too late and we were two nil down. One bad decision and one appalling piece of play gifted them the second goal.
Pre-match much had been made of the difference between the two managers, the sorcerer against the apprentice. The Arse Whinger does not tinker with his team unless he has to. We had a winning team against ManUre, why make any changes, unless someone so much better was available?
Bentaleb may well be one for the future but is he better than Capoue in what Capuoe does best? The younger Frenchman certainly isn´t as experienced when what was needed out there was experience in the central areas, someone with the steel and drive to get stuck in and make life difficult for the opposition – an older Frenchman.
Tim lost the tactical battle but then so has every other THFC manager over the past few decades. (Harry did manage to win a couple but he still lost more NLDs than he won.) The old sage has seen something like 11 Spurs managers come and go during his lengthy spell in charge, how we would benefit from such stability.
But, and it is still a big but, is it such a bad thing that we will not be having our usual rollercoaster ride of an FACup run? No midweek replays to get all het up about, no rearranged matches shoved into an already overcrowded fixture list.
With the players “fatigued” or worse still injured, and with a new management team at the helm for barely two weeks during which time they have had a game every three days, there hasn´t been the chance to sit down and clarify the new formation, the new system and style of play – this is now the time. Time to allow players to recuperate and get fit.
During January we have just three more games, against Palace, Swansea, and Citeh. Consider what the fixture list is for the last of those named – Citeh.
Between now and their visit to White Hart Lane they have to play five, possibly six times, against WetSpam, Newcastle, Blackburn, WetSpam again and then a potential fourth round FACup tie if they beat Blackburn, which they almost certainly will. They too had ten games in 30-odd days during December so have not had a break since before they hammered us at the end of November.
Which team will be the more fatigued? Which team will have more players on the injury list? Which team then has to face Chelski a few days later?
But that is still a while off – as I said time to recuperate, time to get the squad together behind the new manager and his new style, time for us fans to relax and allow the fingernails to grow a bit.
It is never a good thing to lose a game, let alone lose one to Le Arse, but could going out of the cup actually be a blessing in disguise?
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