Yes, we could have won it at least twice in the final ten minutes. But they could easily have scored a second at least twice before that. And given the listless effort—particularly from our attack force—put forward for 70 minutes, the result was deserved.
Let’s start with the positives. Except for some typically curious set piece defending early on, the back four was as advertised. Solid in the middle—and Rose and today mainly Walker was marauding down the flank but still came back to defend at critical moments. Vertonghen was a bit rusty but that was expected. Janssen came on and played hard from the get-go—but for Stekelenburg he would have been the hero in his Spurs debut. Vorm saved our bacon—one presumes Hugo is still not 100% from the injury he suffered vs Portugal that contributed to Eder’s Euro winner—it might be prudent to rest him at least a couple more weeks. And Dier and Wanyama do what they do—defend and disrupt. The latter’s discomfort going forward (Moussa—we miss you) was eminently predictable. It was telling that it was Dier who was subbed for Janssen—Poch likes and trusts his former charge. And Lamela rarely had a misstep and deserved the equalizer, as opposed to his teammates.
Kane was largely invisible and didn’t do much with the ball. There was an impostor with a different name wearing Number 20—oh, that was really Dele (the artist formerly known as Alli), you say? Could have fooled me. He was curiously tentative all afternoon. And the less I say about Christian Eriksen the better other than Daniel Levy has some leverage with his agent now—Idrissa (I’ll undress Christian again and again) Gueye had his way with the Dane all game long.
It’s a point and about what I figured. But we learned the hard way last year—when you are the better side and drop points, it adds up. We had better dispose of Palace but I worry—they can’t win at home (lost again today) but they sure are able to cause us trouble at the Lane.
It’s early (Newcastle supporters: repeat those words because the alternative is simply too horrible for the Toon Army to contemplate) but we had better learn that in this league (Leicester knows this) you can never assume a thing.
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