In the grand scheme of things a 2-2 draw probably isn’t good enough but given the opponents and the overwhelming feeling of foreboding I, and I suspect most other people who made their way to White Hart Lane, had before the game, it’ll do.
Two goals in a game for us is a rare enough event so it seems churlish to point out that we should have had well more than that just before half time and could’ve been well clear. Various combinations of Lennon, Paulinho and Soldado all had presentable opportunities to increase our lead after Walker’s clever and well-executed free-kick under the wall had given us the lead. United’s main threats were coming when we were caught in possession and it was from one such occasion when Dembele was robbed (by Jones?) that Rooney equalized by prodding home Walker’s poor attempt to clear Jones’ not very dangerous cross.
The second half was mostly lots of effort from both teams without much end product. Sandro’s annual thunderbolt was matched by Rooney’s pen and the points were shared. The game was very stop start throughout thanks to Mike Dean’s unwillingness to do anything about the liberal amount of hacking down going on. He could’ve booked both United fullbacks in the first five minutes but instead waited to get his card out until near the end when it was too late to allow the game to establish a rhythm. It was poor reffing that drew umbrage from both sides and sets of fans.
As usual, particularly in the second forty-five, we lacked creativity, the wingers started from too deep, there was a lack of tempo all round and a distinct lack of leadership up front – apart Paulinho that is who worked his socks off all game in an unfamiliar position and was at the centre of most things good. Minus Eriksen and with a misfiring Soldado AVB is floundering a bit as he looks for a system that will accommodate the best of the players and allow them to express themselves. Chadli did ok, in a restricted sort of way – no idea what happened to Lamela. Perhaps he’s still rocking backwards and forwards in the dark somewhere trying to forget last Sunday’s experience. Lennon had Evra in his pocket for the first half an hour and then never touched the ball after that. He was replaced by Townsend who needs to relearn the surer, less cavalier side of his game.
Having looked so solid at the start of the season the defence is now accident prone and uncertain. Chiriches gets caught on the ball, Lloris isn’t getting away with stuff he used to and Dawson is getting found out every time he plays against a decent player – or even a half decent one in Wellbeck’s case. I don’t think he’s good enough to be first choice. We need Rose back before we might see some decent balance in the back four and that’s not something I thought I’d be saying at the start of the season. Our strength is still in the work rate and power of Dembele, Sandro, Paulinho and Capoue. It’s not ideal as they tend to sit deep and play at a slow tempo, it’s true though and we stray from it at our peril.
And what about Man United? Well they’re not what they’re used to be, an often overwhelming force of nature. Their supporters seemed half-hearted too – Moyes has a way to go. They won’t win the league this season. Someone needs to put a big old run together to stop the smuggers, but it won’t be them. It won’t be us either.
Managerless Fulham on Wednesday night and then Poyet’s Sunderland on Saturday. Four points at the very least needed. COYS.
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