Three nil smacks of a dominating and comfortable win and indeed, if you’d seen the first and last twenty minutes of this game then you’d have seen nothing to disabuse you of that impression.
In that middle period though, after Hull had got over the surprise of our three at the back system and before their heads had dropped, the Tigers gave as good as they got and came close to equalising on a number of occasions. Their midfield movement and quick passing caused heads to spin in our midfield, their lack of a cutting edge and skipper Hugo were our saviours, the latter especially so with a fine stop following a Hull break after Marriner had ignored what seemed a pretty genuine, Eriksen shoved to the ground, penalty appeal. Not that we didn’t create openings of our own, they did though seem rare compared to the number of times we gifted possession and found ourselves scurrying back to the edge of our own box attempting to avert calamity.
The first of our goals was probably the best, Rose (who essentially played as a left winger) was found by a beautiful pass from Vertonghen. He cut it back to Eriksen who scored at the near post. The second wasn’t that far behind it in quality as this time Dier, with a little dink over a Hull defender played in Walker (who, you’ve guessed it, essentially played as a right winger) who had a lot to do but got to the byeline and drilled a low cross which again found Eriksen, this time at the far post. The Dane’s attempt at his hat trick from a direct free-kick was thwarted by a fine save from Marshall, the rebound from the post fell though to Wanyama who buried it firmly before running off to embrace Poch and the coaching staff bizarrely.
The three at back was I presume an attempt to give us some more width but also to give Sissoko a chance in a more central position. This he took well, to many people’s surprise. He looked dangerous and relatively surefooted. He was substituted late on and got generous applause. Fair play to him given the stick he’s been getting.
Alli too was given a good hand when he was replaced but he had yet another match where not enough of his tricks came off and there was little sign of the understanding he developed with Kane last year.
We looked better when the again impressive Winks came on and Sissoko was moved forward. It was only then that we started consistently moving the ball at pace and with accuracy, though it did coincide with our second goal and a collective dropping of heads from the visitors.
In the end the win was comfortable enough for all of Dawson, Huddlestone and Mason to be serenaded by the home fans, I hope Livermore doesn’t take offence.
It’s good to see Pochettino trying things in an attempt to cure the malaise of snail paced attacking that has characterised us this season and made people make comparisons with AVB, ie good players doing things at half the speed the best teams are doing them at, I’m not so sure that three at the rear is the way to do it, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Our first two goals were well crafted and expertly executed, both at full speed, which is I’m sure what Poch was after.
We shall see what rabbit he produces from the hat on Sunday, don’t be surprised to see Alli on the bench.
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