In my last article we had just drawn against Sunderland (a match we should have won), this then was followed by a Europa goalless draw against Partizan Belgrade, at their FK Partizan Stadium. That was an okish result and we played reasonably well. Saying that we had 64% of the possession so maybe we should have expected something better. Then we moved on to a team that was struggling at the bottom of the table, WBA. As I sat ready and waiting for the massacre to begin, I said to the guy next to me, at the match, “If we can’t beat them we might as well go home.” Well we did go home, but after the match, and with our heads held down. We had 62% of the possession and nothing to show for it. We had one shot to their four. We are talking about a team that was at the bottom of the table without a win to their name (that is up and until they met us, that is). What went wrong? The lone striker up front had failed us again; in particularly Adebayor. A total waste of space. Why we didn’t buy another striker before the season began, God only knows. If it wasn’t for the other teams performing badly (apart from Arsenal, who won that weekend) we might have written off our chances of ending the season in the top four.
Our next match was against the Championships leading team, Nottingham Forest, in the Capital one cup. Spurs put a good team together for this match (9 changes from the WBA game), but it didn’t show in the first half. Nottingham Forest played well and deserved to be on equal footing with a Premier League team (who on paper should have been far superior). The second half started well (for Forest). They went a goal up (Grant in 61 minutes). We hung our heads down again, thinking, “Here we go again”. A phrase that is starting to become too familiar for us of late. Then a couple of inspired substitutions by Pochettino. Mason for Stambouli and Kane for Paulinho (both in the 64th minute). Eight minutes later Mason scored, followed by Soldado 11 minutes after Mason spectacular goal. Kane, the other substitution, scored for Spurs in the 90th minute. Forest was finally dead and buried.
After the match Pochettino said “We always believed that we can come back into the game, always believed that it was possible to recover the result. Now I am happy, happy for the players because it was a great effort. Never in doubt. Going 1-0 down was difficult, but we got a great reaction, an important reaction for our supporters, who encouraged us and backed us. It was great after the result. We won and I am happy for the players.”
Pochettino had made 11 changes from the WBA game. Soldado is a player that works better up front with another striker. Mason showed his potential and worked well behind the two strikers. So the logical conclusion should have been to put Kane and Soldado up front with Mason in midfield. I would probably have also used Fazio and Stambouli for the up and coming game against our old adversary.
Along comes Saturday and the cap-shooters (or, as some may call them, “The Gunners”). What did Maurice Pochettino do? Well, he included Mason (great), but dropped Kane and Able (sorry, Soldado) in favour of Adebayor. Which I couldn’t understand. Soldado had scored two goals this season. Kane also had scored two goals (three if you count the own goal). Both times they scored their goals when they were together in the same team. What does that tell you? That those two together are a lot better than Adebayor alone. There was also no room for Kazio and Stambouli. The team he picked was Lloris, Vertonghen, Naughton, Kaboul, Rose (Dier – 83’), Capoue, Chadli (Bentaleb – 80′ ), Mason, Lamela, Eriksen (Lennon – 62′) and Adebayor. For that what did we get? Well, putting the draw to one side for a moment, we got 31% of the possession to Arsenal’s 69%. They had six goals on target to our four, but we got a draw.
Mauricio Pochettino had said after the game: “I think it is a good result for us. Maybe Arsenal controlled the game and had the ball more than us but we played well and defended well. We scored a great goal. This is our philosophy, which is difficult to keep for 90 minutes at the moment, but we are on our way.”
Were we lucky or was it just down to good defending? Whichever way you look at it our problems are still up front. Why is he staying faithful to Adebayor? He has a track record of blowing hot and cold; he is well passed his sell by date. Soldado is not a player that plays alone up front. He works well with another striker (that would be Kane, not Adebayor). In the Forest game Pochettino made an inspiring substitution, as I said. But for one of the most important games of the season he decides to stick with Adebayor. AVB eventually dropped him because of his attitude. He started well with Sherwood and then withered with time. So nothing unusual there then. Maybe we should look back at Pochettino’s comments, after the Arsenal game, when he said, “We scored a great goal. This is our philosophy, which is difficult to keep for 90 minutes at the moment, but we are on our way.” The word that sticks out is “philosophy”. Whatever he does have in his mind doesn’t include Kane and Able, therefore he is stuck with Adebayor. Now I don’t have a problem with that, providing we are winning. But we are staggering. Whatever he has planned, he needs to sort it out, and sort it out quickly.
The teams that are candidates for possible top four positions are Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Everton, United (maybe), and the Arse. I am quite confident in saying that Chelsea and City will be there. That leaves two places and five teams (including us) fighting for those two positions. Yesterday the Arse, Liverpool, and Everton drew, while United won. Liverpool and Everton are below us, while United have the same points as us. Arsenal is two points above us in fourth. This would mean, apart from Chelsea & City, that the other teams have obliged us with getting poor results (so far). We are relying too much on the other teams to drop points. If it wasn’t for those teams we would have been considered a write off for the rest of our season.
Our next two matches are going to be very interesting games. Besiktas in the Europa match and Pochettino’s old team Southampton, who are doing quite well at the moment. Both matches will be at White Hart Lane. Then we move on to some serious shit; City, away. Lose the first two at home, then God help us against City, is all I can say.
A personal message to Maurice Pochettino; For God’s sake get your philosophy right or you will end up like AVB and the lacklustre Tim Sherwood, and we don’t want that, you don’t want that! Getting your philosophy right halfway through the season and then shouting “Eureka, I’ve found the right mixture for Spurs to Premier league domination,” while the rest of the teams’ have passed you/ us by and we are mid-table or worse, won’t give your philosophy Brownie points! What it could end up giving you is a quick swift kick up the arse-nal and into outer space and oblivion. Or am I being unfair and the finger shouldn’t be pointed at you, but higher up the food chain and you are doing the best with a bad job lot, just like your predecessors?
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