Either Mousa Dembele is the best player on this team, or something much more has been lost since the Chelsea fireworks than simply the Northeast corner of the ground. Where has the team that laid waste to this league for most of last season gone? Were it not for that shock Neuer transfer, this game would have been 3-0 at halftime…. But seriously who would have thought that after 45 minutes Michel Vorm would be the only bright spot in the biggest game of the season so far?
OK, Kyle was sick and thus Coutinho romped down his wing for the first twenty minutes. We’ll leave the speculating about why Kyle was sick to the tabloids. But somehow even after his departure Firmino got loose down that same right wing and Lamela couldn’t deal with it. But the midfield was a disaster for the entire first half—poor passing from the center backs, no possession by Dier or Wanyama, Liverpool winning all the 50-50s, it seemed, and the few times that the ball finally made it into the Reds zone, a familiar pfft feeling transpired as shots were not taken, or blocked or opportunities missed. This guy named “Dele” clearly is an impostor—none of the verve or pace or dynamism that Alli produced last season.
So I felt that the second half would be the test of whether this team might still have real promise, because frankly the first half Spurs wouldn’t get out of an Europa group stage, let alone one with CSKA Moskva or Leverkusen. And top four? We’ll need a UEFA edict granting 8 spots to the big leagues to make it back to the Champions League. Matip should have gotten a second on a header—no mind that the corner was unfairly earned after a bogus foul on Vertonghen—Spurs can’t expect anything from a referee when they play this bad. Mane should have scored after an awful Dier giveaway but Lallana was perhaps harshly judged offside.
We finally woke up around the 60 minute mark. Lamela was just a tad high on a free kick; Mignolet stopped Alderweireld’s header. Kane and Dier just missed the type of connection in space that would have produced a goal last year. The break finally came down Dier’s wing with an exquisite cross and Rose had pressed forward just enough to be clear when the ball bounced to him.
Perhaos the simplest explanation of Spurs’ offensive woes is that we don’t have Dembele, and neither do we have Eriksen or Alli at anything near their form last year. Victor Wanyama is a rock on defense, and about the same when trying to move the ball forward. Kane has been curiously passive so far—one hopes it is simply a repeat of last season’s slow start. But today’s point was fortunate—the harm was minimzed but the flaws remain for all to see. The international break probably comes at a good time.
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