For sixty minutes I wondered if I was watching a football match or some dreary television drama – one of those where nothing much happens and you have to come back next week to see if anything ever does.
Everything about our play was too casual, too sloppy, there was no drive, no verve, no purpose. It was almost as if we felt that we only had to turn up to win – which obviously is never the case.
Of course I am only speaking about ten of our starting eleven as thankfully there was one player who at least tried to liven things up, who took on defenders and struck fear into them every time he touched the ball.
It has been a while coming but finally we are beginning to see what all the fuss is about our most expensive ever player – Erik Lamela.
His performance stood out like a beacon – if this had been a dreary TV drama he would have been Laurence Olivier delivering his lines with natural aplomb.
Then on the hour mark, the ball fell kindly at Lamela´s feet and swiftly and without fuss it was despatched into the bottom corner. Seven minutes later and another pulsating run was brought rudely to an end as three Sheriffs wrapped their legs around his, the penalty was converted by Defoe to bring up his record as Spurs all time European golascorer, and suddenly we looked comfortable, we looked safe.
But more casual and sloppy play allowed them to score, much to the annoyance of Brad Friedal who had done all he could to deny them, on the day he broke the record as the oldest player ever to appear in the Europa League. Had we kept a clean sheet we would have set a third record as no team has gone six consecutive games in the competition without conceding a goal – we managed 5 games and 74 minutes.
At 2-0 we looked to have the game sewn up, at 2-1 it was backs to the wall yet again and an anxious last 15 minutes. We survived, we got the three points and we are now definitely through to the knock out stages next year, so despite the casual approach it is very much a case of job done. We have two more group games but these need not worry us unduly as only us losing both and Anzi winning both theirs (and this could happen) will prevent us from topping the group.
Back to the Premiership at the weekend with the visit to the Lane of the French Foreign Legion, also known as Newcastle United. A weird kick off time of 12 midday UK time (1pm in Spain) means that fans will be streaming into the ground just as others a few miles away will be streaming past the Cenotaph in Whitehall paying their respects.
Expect a much changed team although Walker and Vertonghen are likely to be on duty for the fifth game in succession – at least they may get a break during the international friendlies that come up in a week´s time – along with Dawson and Chiriches.
Lloris will be back as will the usual suspects (Dembele, Paulinho, Holtby and Soldado) further upfield but has Lamella done enough to warrant a starting place – but instead of who. Townsend is currently one of the first names on the team sheet so could we see Lennon dropped?
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