One rarely sees a game with the separate parts so easily distinguishable. The opening period before Dier’s headed goal from Eriksen’s corner was notable for the ease with which we were allowed to keep possession in front of a timid Stoke side. The concession was like an off switch in the away end as their previously noisy supporters now watched in silence as their team continued to struggle on the pitch despite a more positive approach. Chadli’s slightly fortunate finish meant that we were two to the good at the break and sitting pretty… Hmm.
If Kane had been able to finish successfully from Chadli’s clever pass shortly into the second period then maybe the rest of the afternoon would’ve unfolded differently, instead Pochettino’s substitution of our boy wonder brought us to the third part of the game where we gave a bizarre demonstration in how not to kill a game off. The first twenty minutes of the match saw us in total possession of the ball even if we unable to do a whole lot with it; in the final twenty minutes our inability to string more than a couple of passes together before being back on the edge of our own box fending off the inevitable was embarrassing. The Stoke fans refound their collective voice and via Arnautovic’s pen and Diouf’s smart header, roared their team home to a deserved draw.
Dier, even without his goal, looked the senior partner in the centre of midfield when partnered with either Mason and Bentaleb both of whom struggled to impose themselves though Mason did come close to scoring a couple of times. Dembele was forceful without being particularly effective, he should be played down the middle if he’s going to play. Chadli was the same as usual, you wonder quite what he’s doing out there and then he scores a goal. He should’ve had another after Eriksen’s simply beautiful ball over the top and would’ve had an assist if Kane hadn’t sidefooted too close to Butland in the second half. If you ignore his goal stats he’s a frustrating player to witness in action – his goals are extremely valuable however.
Kane was quiet throughout but who wouldn’t be given the lack of help? You’ve got to feel for him and hope that the addition of the speed we’re expecting to see in place from the Walker stadium onwards will give him a better opportunity to find and make the most of some extra space. His pass to Davies did lead to the second goal despite his ‘quiet’ game.
Having given Erik Lamela another chance it seems harsh to give up on him so early in the season but he was a waste of space after replacing Kane. His lack of presence and composure contributed directly to us caving in with 20 minutes to go. Carroll or Alli would’ve been a better option.
Leicester will be licking their lips in anticipation of next week; we look nowhere near the finished article. We were ponderous in our movement, hugely over reliant on Kane but also very vulnerable to crosses at the back. N’Jie and who ever else is coming in need to settle in quickly to make sure we get going before the season is beyond us. We’re already in catchup mode to the likes of Swansea, Liverpool and even Everton; teams that we’re likely to be battling with come April and May.
Early days though – no point in getting too upset just yet….
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