So often this season, we had been undone by a slow start; here, it was played out in reverse like a film running backwards and then unravelling in chaotic spools across the projection room floor. We started fast and gradually ran out of drive, spirit and finally ideas. Some of us were left sitting in the middle of all this, in tears of frustration and disappointment.
Our goal: what a ball from Sanchez, even better from Eriksen, and Dele arriving, as supremely he can, to lash home. Oh, the euphoria and the movement and penetration of that first quarter of the game.
Then Mousa actually lost possession and something like The Fog descended on the defence who, blinking in disbelief, went into a kind of trance and somehow allowed their Sanchez to score with a header.
And then the winner. How often against the unspeakable Mourinho have teams felt ‘we were better but we didn’t win’. A season of such promise and such great performances. Right now, let’s make sure of Champions League for next year.
Vorm – 6
It says something, I wasn’t unhappy to see him between the sticks (especially after his last game – he deserved it). He made one great save and couldn’t do much about the second and, although he fell under the same spell as the rest of the defence, perhaps not for the first either.
Sanchez – 7
He had a lot to do (occasionally up against Lukaku) and was everywhere with speed and strength.
Vertonghen – 7
Another fine performance.
Trippier – 6
Full backs in a back four aren’t back five wingbacks. Trippier isn’t Walker. I look to him first and foremost to tackle and keep it tight on his flank. This he did. OK, he didn’t threaten going forward but that’s not his issue – it’s a strategic question for those considering purchases over the summer. Whatever their question might be, Aurier isn’t the answer.
Davies – 5
As ever, put in an honest shift, but was the logical piece to remove when we needed to slot in greater creativity.
Dier – 7
A theme for me in this game was taking responsibility and your man did precisely that with some excellent tracking and tackling, a greater sense of urgency than early season and a preparedness to embrace risk. And, lest we forget, a shot against the post!
Dembele – 7
OK, a strange case of fallibility for the first goal, but it is a joy to watch a player whose like we will seldom see again (and we do so with that bitter sweet appreciation that comes with anxiety that he might choose to leave us).
Son – 6
More than anyone defined both hope and hopelessness. He’s great on that left hand side and threatened consistently in the opening twenty minutes. But, as time wore on, increasingly misjudged his moments and brought anticipation to its knees.
Eriksen – 8
As he should have done all year, took control and dictated our play from the playmaker’s position in the centre of midfield. Everything came through him. But, as time wore on, that might have been the problem. His fulcrum became a little predictable and static. Where were other creative players to broaden the base of the attack?
Dele – 7
He looked fabulous at times, especially early on. Runs he made. Exquisite passes that opened up defences. He was the threat in the box on this day.
Kane – 5
Always a willing runner in the first half, gradually he gave way and accepted the cloak of invisibility. To my eye, he looked fitter today, just never commanded the line, the box, the space. By the end, he was completely impossible to find.
Moura has such quick feet and real purpose and intent. Wanyama and Lamela also tried to forestall the inevitable.
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