The Fault Lies Not in Wembley, But Ourselves

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I’m simply going to assign blame here. I don’t care that for a long stretch of this game—nearly half counting the final 6-7 minutes of the first period—Spurs were dominant. I don’t care about shots, possession, corners—any of it. We lost deservedly.

First, to the manager. This is twice now that Conte has gotten the better of Poch (well, maybe three times counting the first game at Stamford Bridge last season) with tactics. He put big people in the middle and told his charges to make it an alley fight and disrupt everything Spurs tried to do. For nearly the first forty minutes, it worked pretty damn well. Let’s face it—without Walker or Rose we lack the speed on the wing to get around a defence—Chelsea made sure we couldn’t get through them.

Second, to the captain. Lloris was culpable on both goals. The first because he was fooled into thinking Willian would take the free kick and gave away about a yard of space on his left—enough for a decent free kick to produce a goal, and Alonso’s effort was better than that. On the second, well, the less said the better. Beaten from an angle where a top flight Premiership keeper should not be beaten.

Third, to Victor Wanyama. I counted five giveaways where he tried to play hero and work the ball through multiple Chelsea midfielders or defenders and then the sixth cost us the game.

Fourth, to Kieran Trippier. Best I could tell, either he or Eric Dier were at fault for allowing Morata to have an easy header in the first five minutes which thankfully he missed. And on the winner, well what was he doing, and why was Moussa Dembele—five or six seconds after his saving challenge—still the only defender on Lloris’ right? The entire team switched off on that corner, allowing the Chelsea jail break to begin with, but Trippier was caught flat-footed at the end.

And finally to the entire team, save Dembele. They played hard but not well enough. Poor crosses, ineffectual free kicks and corners but for the one Batshuayi gifted us. And the end was reminiscent of the Arsenal game two years ago at the Lane, where after finally breaking through (in that case taking the lead), they went to sleep and allowed Sanchez to equalise.

Everyone will say Wembley. But really, it was the team itself. The stadium had nowt to do with it. And now the burden is on this team to shake it off and become who we thought they were, and not another Arsenal groveling for fourth place.

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.


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