In our by now traditional seasonal opener in the North East, the traditional win. We
did play with awkwardness of people having drinks at the beginning of a reunion
party, but it’s three valuable points we might not have got with late returnees from
the World Cup and no fresh signings.
Lloris – 8
No chance with the goal and a great second half from the World Cup winning captain. Highlights: a super reflex save and coming out to the feet of Kenedy. With the price of quality keepers going sky high, how lucky are we to have one in place.
Aurier – 3
Credit where credit is due: great cross for the winning goal. But still lacking in almost every respect. He doesn’t seem to have the basic skills; positioning at times is woeful (that same Kenedy chance); rash when he should be circumspect; hesitant when he should be decisive (always a sign of lack of belief, not helped by whingers like me, I’m sure). If only we’d gone out and bought the best right wing back in the world to replace him – oh, hang on, we didn’t need to!
Davies – 5
Another of those workmanlike displays.
Sanchez – 7
His decisive header for the first goal wasn’t the only time he threatened. He lost his man for their goal but any defence would have been undone by the quality of that cross. He looked positive in his decision making and assured generally. Is keeping out of the team one of the best centre backs in the world. When all recriminations and petty revenges are set aside – not the worst outcome: we have him for a season then he goes for £25m – who should start? I don’t know, you tell me. And it’s cheating to play three at the back!
Vertonghen – 7
Always an excellent judge, he managed to score by the narrowest of margins possible – don’t burst the onion bag if you don’t need to! Classic diving interception (Rondon) and general all round excellent play.
Dier – 7
Played as the sole central midfielder (we haven’t got too many functioning) with, in my opinion, Sissoko functioning on one flank, Dele on the other, he was a reassuring presence. OK, I was hoping we might buy a very different player in the summer to drive the team from that position but he had one of his good games today. Still uses a pitching wedge for long passes when it should be a shut down one iron.
Sissoko – 5
As I suggested earlier, didn’t take a position of responsibility in the centre and played peripherally on the right – probably a tactical decision admittedly.When you compare what you get from Dele in addition on the other side … there is no comparison. Took a chance and ran well – the benefit of no WC distraction for fitness.
Dele – 7
Worked hard breaking up play in his defensive game. Couple of lovely touches, one that was outrageous. Then, from working away in midfield, he ghosts into lovely scoring positions. (Is it Martin Peters he reminds us of?) Comfortably taken goal.
Eriksen – 6
Cross for the first goal. Has that quality of great players of appearing unhurried. When he has the ball things look likely to happen. Not a game in which he shone, however.
Moura – 6
His touch makes him stand out. Running at pace can do also (though perhaps only once – in his first half chance). However, was largely a peripheral figure. Work in progress bedding into the side.
Kane – 5
I no longer think it’s ‘just one of those things’ that he hasn’t scored in August. It’s not
unrelated to his summer performances generally: for instance, the last three WC games. Some sort of torpor descends, a mental tiredness that manifests itself physically. He becomes what he could have always looked like (but clearly isn’t), awkward, clumsy, slow. Being the sole out and out centre forward of sufficient quality at a top club is a massive ask and we have to be careful with our most precious resource that we don’t burn it up recklessly.
Dembele (so poor at the WC) came on and was immense from the off. Son ran joyously and nice to see Amos start.
Have something to tell us about this article?