A snoozefest of a game if truth be told, a good three points but a performance that lacked a lot of tempo and quite a bit of precision. We’ll need to up the intensity by several notches if we’re going to overcome Chelski next weekend.
There were lots of positives, Dembélé was excellent and lasted ninety minutes, Eriksen made both goals belying his normal quiet start, the defence looked as solid as ever, despite the lack of the Pauper Rose, and Walker-Peters gave as an impressive a debut as one could ask for. Confident and assured on the ball, keen to occupy any space in front of him and good enough to cope with Atsu, Newcastle’s only threat.
The headlines will be occupied by Shelvey and Alli. The home team’s attempt to wind up Dele in the end appeared to have the complete opposite effect as the Geordie captain, their best player according to many home fans, in their first game back in the Premier League, in a season that is likely to be a struggle from start to finish, disapproved of the Spurs player’s behaviour enough to clearly stamp on Dele’s ankle whilst the latter was on the floor. Within ten yards of the referee. What an arse. The home fans can boo Alli all they want but they know where the fault lies really. What. An. Arse.
The preseason/training ground level of tempo and intensity of the game to that point left one feeling that a draw was most likely – we had the majority of possession and control but seldom looked incisive – but once Shelvey had seen red it was backs to the wall for the Barcodes and they never mustered a proper attack from then onwards.
We scored after Kane and Eriksen worked enough space for a perfect cross from the Dane which Dele stretched to turn home. Number two came when Davies intercepted another interchange involving Eriksen and poked in. Harry had a couple of chances to increase the lead but in truth, we looked happy enough with what we’d got.
We looked settled, focused and confident, but rusty. It wasn’t with total ease that we beat a newly promoted side who lost two defenders to injury and whose skipper got himself red-carded with forty minutes to go. Three points away from home on the opening day though. I’ll take that.
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