I have said all along, a game like Huddersfield can be more dangerous than playing the likes of Liverpool, City or Chelsea or even Barcelona or Real Madrid. We raise our game against high profile teams but drop our guard against those at the other end of the table. Luckily for us, we weren’t victims of our own undoing this time.
Our third match at our new unnamed stadium was also our third match as undefeated and unconceded. With one eye firmly on Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City, our manager made seven changes to the starting XI that beat City 1-0 in the first leg. This could have been a dangerous tactic as the Huddersfield game was just as important to us at the City game.
If we lose against City (and I believe we can go all the way) then we will need to beat teams like Huddersfield to give us another crack at a top-four finish. Of course, we had injuries to Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks, all dropping out of the squad, while in-form Son Heung-min was named among the substitutes, leaving Llorente and Moura to lead the line alongside Eriksen. Nevertheless, our new-look front three were impressive; Llorente helped create the first by holding off his shadow to make the space for Wanyama to run into, while Eriksen was his influential self and Moura became the star of the show. The Brazilian produced two brilliant finishes for his first and third while he displayed impressive skill to control Eriksen’s cross for the second.
On what we’ve seen on Saturday Pochettino has plenty to think about – all good – and what formation he wants to hurt Manchester City with. Even without Kane.
Our league form had dipped and dived recently with only one point gained from our previous five league games, but it was the Palace game, our first in the new stadium, that turned things back around.
The first 15 minutes, we had 88% of the possession, which set the tone for an uncomfortable afternoon for Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers failed to get a shot on target in the first half and did little better in the second, meaning our makeshift back five were rarely tested. At the other end, Llorente failed to convert a host of chances as Spurs played through Huddersfield at will to claim our most comfortable three points of the season.
Because of our win, we are back in third position.
Let us look at some statistics coming from this match, and we all love statistics (well, when we win, we do).
We have won all five of our Premier League games this season without Harry Kane (a good omen, more so with Kane injured) and our next two opponents are City (twice). We have won our first four Premier League games against Huddersfield without conceding a goal, something we had only previously done against Cardiff.
With seven goals and five assists in 853 minutes of action, Fernando Llorente has registered the best minutes per goal involvement rate of any of our players this season in all competitions (71.1). Christian Eriksen registered his 60th Premier League assist, eight more than any other player since his debut in the competition in September 2013.
So there you have it. All good reading before the all-important game against City in the Champions League second leg. But we faced a relegated team, not a title-chasing team. But as I said at the beginning of this article; we raise our game against somebody like City, as we did against them at our new stadium. But that doesn’t mean it is a done deal. City are no pushovers. They are challenging in all available competitions (for them). They know it is in their hands, but we also know that such a momentous hurdle has been the undoing of the most fervent of challenges.
We have blown hot and cold this season, but on our day we’ve been magic and can take on anybody and get satisfactory results, with or without Kane. If we can get that early goal against City, then it could wrong-foot them. They could end up tied in knots trying to get that goal that will see them maneuver out of their own quagmire. Of course, whatever happens on that day, a few days later we repeat the process all over again. We can win both if we stay concentrated and mentally efficient. Both matches could decide the rest of the season for us and categorically state our future intentions.
Hopefully, I’ll see you at the match, and we will have something to cheer about.
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