On paper a disappointing result, in fact a very encouraging performance.
The goal scoring touches that have been with Kane and Mason through their careers seem have deserted them, one hopes only briefly, but if at least one of the half a dozen chances that fell to them, and Chadli, and Alli, had been converted then we’d have won this game at a canter.
We weren’t Brazil 1970 don’t get me wrong but we were by far the better team. Despite our continual profligacy in front of goal a winner seemed inevitable even approaching the last quarter of the game but when Martinez threw in the towel, cut his losses and parked the bus by taking off Lukaku, the only Toffee threat, and replacing him with the niggling Naismith our pressure fizzled out. The Scot plugged the gap in front of Rose and somehow triggered referee Taylor into indulging in some of the most eccentric & frustrating decision making I’ve seen since we last had the pleasure of Mark Twattenburg’s company. The stats will point to a ridiculous number of yellow cards conceded by us late in the game, almost all as a result of petty pontificating rather than any acts of aggression.
A previously entertaining game dissolved into a stop start affair until Taylor called time.
The away fans sang of Chelsea’s inability to prise John Stones away from Goodison but they’d have been better off praising the services of Tim Howard who made a number of point blank saves to keep their team in the contest after the much lauded Stones and England’s Jagielka had been by-passed and left as spectators.
Much has been made of the sluggishness of our attacking play over the last few seasons (post-Bale essentially) but this was less evident today even before Dele Alli’s impressive cameo brought a movement and energy up front we so often lack, a lot of this was down to Chadli who was an impressive creative influence in the first half.
You can see easily that we’re an improved team compared to last season. We look better defensively even though we’re still vulnerable in the air. Rose is unrecognisable from the player of a year ago, Walker is as frustrating and error prone as ever but in the middle Alderweireld, as long as he keeps his hands to himself adds assurity to Vertonghen’s eccentricities. Dier is doing his best to prove the doubters wrong with his consistent performances in the middle whilst Dembélé was having a good strong game on the right until his injury. It was this incident that brought Alli on though he’d probably have been active before long anyway as Mason was having an inconsistent game as he took his turn as Eriksen’s replacement.
Whilst a step up from Lamela, Mason’s lack of physical presence and proper pace holds him back despite his habit of getting into goal scoring positions – he needs to belt his shots not poke them – and the vision and technique that put Kane away for what should have been the opening goal.
No wins after four games isn’t the best return but the performances thus far should save Pochettino from any pressure in the short term. Sunderland in two weeks and by then all the new signings should be fit and the totally brand new MoPo stamped Spurs will be ready for action. With the added goal threat and pace of N’Jie and Son we should expect three points, anything else and mutterings of discontent may well begin in earnest.
The season feels like it has started without us in many ways. With 34 games left though there’s plenty of time to catch up. COYS.
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