Some people have to clear a fat ball the size of a double decker bus from the sewers of London. Mauricio Pochettino had to watch the Man City game again – it’s his job. Apparently, he shared with the media what he said to the players, what they all learnt from the exercise. There was plenty to learn.
Of course, Mauricio Pochettino ‘sharing’ with the press is a contradiction in terms. He responds to questions like a tourist caught up in a tv vox pop on the economy. In his replies he puts a stream of bland platitudes into a syntactical blender and says precisely nothing. It’s both effective media management and utterly charming. Trouble is it leaves the humble supporter in the dark. What did they learn? What are they going to change? We can only watch the next game to find out.
Well, I’m going to hazard a guess. I think he told them ‘a month ago we were playing great; let’s get back to doing that.’ Simple enough. They came out and pressed with urgency. They moved the ball quickly … no, fast. Even when not on the counter, they attacked at pace. They initiated the play from the back progressively. They beat players. They moved the ball comfortably in tight spaces and their touch in passing was pleasing. What a relief! The bigger mystery is why they stopped doing it in the first place.
Just when our profligacy in front of goal was inviting pressure from the otherwise thoroughly modest Burnley side, Harry stepped up with two superb finishes to complete his hat trick. I can’t wait for him to go one better and take Shearer’s record alone – I would love it!
Lloris – 6
Is it a coincidence that the mixing of his distribution, his more progressive playing out from the back, was matched by more progressive play generally? It seems intent from the first play at the back sets the tone. So, we could admire his sweeper keeper performance. Even if we might also question his punching and general vulnerability under the high ball against physical strikers.
Aurier – 7
Acknowledged himself he gave the ball away disastrously on one occasion, offering Burnley a chance of an equaliser when they had been nowhere. But he was quick, defended well otherwise and joined the attack so effectively, almost providing a superb assist.
Davies – 6
Determined in the first half to give a masterclass in overhitting crosses, he settled better in the second. Hard working contribution.
Sanchez – 8
He gets the plaudits today because Burnley didn’t look like getting a sniff and he was the difference. Apart from a piece of clumsiness towards the end, looked the composite defender. Luck or judgement, delighted we’ve got him.
Vertonghen – 7
Dier – 6
Played at times as a centre of three centre backs and then increasingly in midfield. This tactical flexibility he offers is a positive. Played well today.
Sissoko – 6
Good in parts. Looked powerful and actually mobile at times. Loved how he powered through midfield and hit the target twice on receiving Dele’s exquisite through ball. Disappointed he didn’t have the class to score. Disappointed he still looked clumsy at times. But, in the main, was pleased to have his energy in midfield today.
Dele – 8
Announced to the crowd he was playing in the opening minutes – committing a rash foul and then obtaining a reasonably soft penalty. Thereafter, he played great, like the old Dele. He drifted into space ‘between the lines’ and looked majestic on the ball. Two assists(?). Also, making those runs forty yards from the ball, ghosting into space – might have been found. But, above all, it was his touch to provide opportunities (that has been so conspicuously missing in recent weeks) that was so exquisitely in evidence tonight. Well done!
Eriksen – 7
Great to see ‘Eric the Dane’ looking his old self: quick feet, lovely touch on the ball, running and looking up, looking to create opportunities.
Son – 7
Was busy and threatening. (Spurned the opportunity of a goal at one stage to go for three points by lashing a golden chance over the bar!)
Kane – 9
A seventh hat trick, equalling Shearer’s Prem calendar year record, it was one of those games when he could easily have had more. He was so direct throughout (apart from uncharacteristically attempting to play in a colleague and overhitting the pass). A privilege to watch him, ecstasy that he plays for us!
Llorente and Dembele came on but it was the appearance of Lamela that caught the eye. He looked so hungry and so dangerous.
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