Boro’s results elsewhere at the homes of the ‘big six’ they’ve already visited were warning enough that we were in for ninety minutes of attrition and that’s what we ended up with but only because we failed to take any of the multiple clear chances we created in the opening twenty minutes. Son and Dele missed one-on-ones with Valdez, crosses flew across the Boro six yard box and Alderweireld hit the post.
We were outstanding for most of the first half, it was only our finishing that was letting us down. Elsewhere though Wanyama and Dembélé were muscularly brilliant in midfield and we were never threatened at the rear where Traore got no chance to use his pace and Negredo had no service. Middlesbrough were so lacking in forward ambition that they didn’t even bother to press Hugo or the centre halves, despite the chaos this caused at the Etihad. They were free to start attacks at will.
Good things come…
After half time Boro’ continued in obdurate mood and held out until the 56th minute when Son’s trickery won us a pen and Kane fired confidently home. The search for a second ended in disappointment generally due to either Valdes, a wayward finish or our four musketeers getting in each others way.
As the game approached its denouement Middlesbrough finally showed some interest in giving Hugo some work to do but they failed with De Roon dragging their best (ie their only) chance wide at the death.
Bring back my Danny to me
It’s a real shame that three at the back isn’t possible without Rose and Vertonghen but Pochettino clearly doesn’t trust Wimmer and we have no replacement for Rose if Davies is given a chance on the left side of the three.
As I said, Dembélé and Wanyama were totally in control in the middle, though a little bit more ambition in their passing wouldn’t go amiss, whilst the movement and trickery of Son, Alli and Eriksen was a pleasure to behold. Walker too was excellent.
A week off before Anfield next Saturday. They’re currently in disarray but have time to sort out their problems and I’m sure we’ll be faced by a formidable Mane led beast. Should be good fun.
Have something to tell us about this article?