An afternoon to forget mostly. Villa were pretty inept, providing little threat, we were not far off the same standard, and just as invisible as an attacking entity. I’m not sure we had a shot before half time.
The second half was better but not significantly until Pochettino had seen enough of Janssen and Dele Alli was brought on to provide a bit of mobility and cleverness. His impact wasn’t quite as instant as NKoudou however whose first involvement after he replaced Alderweireld on 70 minutes was to ping a cross towards Ben Davies who athletically steered a header into the bottom corner. Huzzah. Cue much relief all round.
Chances followed then as Villa heads dropped and it was Son who applied the game’s coup de grace when he finished adroitly from a Sissoko pull back.
Of the irregulars, Winks was outstanding, Carter-Vickers not bad though he sold himself a few times and clearly has a bit to learn, Janssen struggled to keep possession or make space and was pretty awful. Davies, Trippier, Vorm, Wimmer and Sissoko did what we know they can do; the cameos from Alli and NKoudou were probably the highlights, especially the latter’s backheel nutmeg of Hutton.
We started with the full on three at the back with Dier in midfield. Villa played with just Agbonlahor up front so we had extra players where we didn’t need them. We looked better when we switched to 4-4-2 after Toby went off though it was a tad hard to tell what was going on to be honest. Also we scored immediately which changed the way Villa approached the game.
The team selection I’d suggest shows once again where Pochettino’s priority lies. You suspect that he’ll only play a full side if we get to the latter stages but the evidence of Dortmund and Monaco shows that might not even be the case. He’s single minded in his pursuit of finishing as high in possible and doesn’t want anything to interfere.
West Brom next Saturday lunchtime and hopefully something a lot less turgid than this.
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