The vast majority of this ninety minutes was so bad it made Sunday’s feeble efforts against West Brom look like a tribute act to the Dutch team of the early Seventies. The danger of unpicking a display of this glutenous nature is that you’ll just end up getting sucked in and sucked down into a porridge of gloom where at the bottom you’ll find the footballer once known as Paulinho. It’s possibly unfair to pick him out of the dross but we’re right to expect more from our apparently box-to-box all action goal scoring one-time record buy than we’re getting.
What didn’t help matters was Pochettino’s choice of key personnel within his now trademark formation. Soldado isn’t strong enough nor does he work hard enough to lead the line on his own, the aforementioned Paulinho is not the man to supply the bullets and neither Bentaleb nor Stambouli moved the ball forward quickly and accurately. Elsewhere we watched players go through the motions or bring gasps of incredulity from the crowd as passes were misplaced, Forest players were allowed to get goal side and free kicks and corners were smashed into the first defender (why not aim for Mount Fazio?). They almost seemed to know that there was little point getting the ball forward to Townsend, Soldado or Lennon as sweet FA was going to happen when it got there. Slow moving lava had a quicker tempo.
Forest scored against the run of play. Of course they did, they were hardly going to come at us and on reflection it was the best thing that could have happened as Poch was forced into making changes. Kane was an obvious choice to bring on but Mason was a braver one given that he had Eriksen and Lamela as options as well. It proved to be inspired as all of a sudden the ball was being moved slickly and at pace. Kane was giving the centre backs some work to do, the full backs were getting involved and Townsend, to his credit given the way the ball was bouncing off him, never hid. Mason equalised with a pot shot that a decent keeper would have probably got to, Townsend hit the bar and then flukily assisted Soldado’s equaliser. All the puff had gone from Forest by this point and Lamela came on to join in the fun. His disguised through-ball to Kane was finished expertly and all was right with the world.
Brighton next. In theory a quarter final place is there for the taking, maybe this work in progress of a side will be more team and less molasses by then. Great to see Mason come on and do so well, if he stays injury-free we should see a lot more of him this season. COYS.
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