A tricky trip to Cyprus at midweek was a game Spurs needed all 3 points from. Thanks to hat trick hero Harry Kane who makes those nights look almost routine, Spurs handled their business and the ending score line looks rather lopsided. For anyone who watched the game they’ll know it was far from it.
No Alli, Eriksen, or Vertonghen. Still no Rose, Wanyama, or Lamela. At least 5 of those names comprise your first-choice starting 11 when fully fit and healthy and possibly all 6 (Lamela being the one). Due to various injuries, suspensions, and sickness Spurs squad depth was tested and it passed with flying colors thanks to some hard work and a few brilliant moments from Kane.
We began in the preferred 3-4-2-1 which is worth noting as even with the selection headache Poch still opted for this formation with several players asked to play out of position. We’d see the switch back to a more standard 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 later in the game, mostly due to Aurier’s rough evening.
As previously written about I believe Poch got it wrong at Swansea opting to use Son Heung-Min as a makeshift LWB in Davies’ absence. But even he realized the error and fixed it this time, opting to slide Trippier to LWB as Davies was brought into the back three CB’s to cover for Vertonghen (something he does for Wales and looked more than capable at the position on the night). While Trippier never quite looked his normal self on the left, mostly opting to pull the ball back and make horizontal passes instead of his usual bombing runs down the flank, it was still the better call to have a natural defender there. Trippier was largely untested but the same can’t be said of Aurier, who looked a bit off the pace at times.
Poch made his intentions clear with the first substitution early in the second half for Aurier and we switched to a 4-2-3-1 of sorts as Poch looked to shore-up the defense as APOEL chased an equalizer and were finding plenty of chances. Trippier moved to the right and and within minutes had sent Sissoko down the channel to square to Kane for the second goal and the game was all but killed off there. Kane added the icing on the cake just a few minutes after that as the result of a Trippier cross.
Harry Winks played the full 90 and looked back to his best as he turned in a fine performance alongside Dier anchoring the middle. Same goes for Davidson Sanchez who looks like he’s been with the team for years with how comfortable he is. Early comparisons to the King are looking more and more justified.
All in all a good result in a far away land and we now sit joint-top the group with Real Madrid with 6 points from 2 games and a +5 goal differential. A draw or a win in the next game will virtually assure us advancement to the knockout phase and we can hope to be back to full squad strength by then.
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