I watched this one at a party where prizes were apparently being awarded for getting in the way of the telly but I did see enough of the first half to work out that Villa’s lead at the break wasn’t totally undeserved despite Adebayor and Soldado missing great chances to puncture the home team’s brittle confidence and get us back on terms, in fact with Kaboul struggling against Benteke and the full backs looking far from comfortable we could’ve gone in further behind.
We looked more solid after half time but it took some feistiness from Lamela and Mason and some letter-of-the-lawness from referee Swarbrick for the game to swing our way. Benteke’s offence would be at the bottom end of anyone’s aggression scale but by picking on poor innocent Ryan, the big lad gave – as I’m sure every other report on the game says – referee Swarbrick no choice.
Predictably Kane’s energy was at the heart of all things good when he came on for the lacklustre (is that officially his forename now?) Adebayor and he’d already tested the keeper before Chadli prodded home the equaliser. Lamela had 9 ironed a good free-kick opportunity during the second half so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Kane took charge of the dead ball 25 yards out after Townsend had been upended with a few minutes left. Guzan would’ve had no problem getting down to his shot if the ball hadn’t flicked off the unfortunate Baker on its way into an empty net. Cue mayhem on the pitch and the terraces and a celebratory beer from the ice trug in front of a for once clear screen.
I see that someone at the post match press conference asked Pochettino if he knew what the expression ‘got out of jail’ meant which is a bit harsh when you look at the possession and shot stats if nothing else. Benteke may feel hard done by but then 1) you shouldn’t go around raising your hands to people and 2) he should’ve taken his chances in the first half if he wanted to make a positive difference.
As I say, I didn’t have the best view but it was still obvious that we are fragile at the back, lack width in the middle and up front and are slow and toothless in attack. For the first time the manager has tinkered with his front foursome suggesting that he’s not happy with their collective progress towards understanding his philosophy and system. The only surprise to the spectator is that Lamela and Eriksen were taken out of the action before Adebayor.
We’ve a tough game in Greece on Thursday and then Mark Hughes’ unlovable Stoke come to WHL on Sunday. The coming of Harry Kane as saviour has seemed inevitable over the past few weeks, surely his time has come?
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