Well we’re ahead, but there’s not much else good to say about the game, or even worthy of mention. Soldado’s touch that forced the handball for the pen, Townsend’s spot kick under pressure, Adebayor’s first touch to bring Eriksen’s ball down before he hooked wide in the first half, Dier’s header that forced the game’s only save I think…and that’s about it. A really poor 90 minutes of football, where for long periods aesthetics bowed to athletics.
Pochettino had a bit of a ‘mare tactically. His perverse decision to start Adebayor and also make him skipper was matched by his forcing Kane to play on the left and out of the main danger areas for most of the game. Harry also provided little cover for Davies who needed it as Campbell-Ryce was the Blades main source of ‘danger’. (They never really looked like scoring).
Eriksen in the middle was muscled off the ball or inaccurate with his passing, Townsend was willing but erratic and that was it as far as any creativity went. Mason looked like man just coming back from injury and whilst Stambouli tidied up neatly and provided a good outlet, he’s no goal threat.
Sheffield United ran their socks off, were disciplined and their fans made a racket, just as you’d expect. We improved once Soldado came on, which shows how ineffective we were with Adebayor playing up top. The skipper for the night was jeered and abused for doing or not doing things that should Soldado have done them, there’d just be the odd slump of the shoulders and shake of the head. There’s no logic to it in my view. Adebayor’s langorous style, attitude, lack of fitness and end product and recent comments in the press mean that even though a good second half of the campaign from him (he’s relatively fresh and is capable of scoring goals remember) could be the key to our view on the season when we look back in May, he is a scourge on the side as far as many fans are concerned. There were boos when he left the field which doesn’t help anyone, it’s not as if he’s keeping Maradona out of the team.
Sheffield United will feel they are still in the tie, which of course they are. We have a tough time in store for us next Wednesday, but we’ll have 5,000 fans behind the team, a one goal lead, and hopefully a better formation and a more match fit side. We’ll need to play with more craft and class than we did in this game though.
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