The outcomes hardly matter anymore, except to our opponents. Since Villa cared more they got the three points. Since Spurs didn’t and know they are headed for Europa purgatory no matter what they do, they got a deserved result: Nothing.
Of more significance is the perplexing disappearance of Tottenham’s attack, and nowhere is that personified more than in the play of Christian Eriksen. The general view last autumn was that he was our best player—perhaps the one real potential world-class component of our strike force. Harry Kane’s sudden ascension paired the two in our minds as a real foundation to build on for the future—each with the knack for the dramatic. If Lamela continued to disappoint, Adebayor smiled as he headed for the exit, Soldado remained mired in failure,Chadli displayed his limited form, and Townsend only briefly—and usually for England, not Spurs—flashed his brilliance, well at least we had the other two to depend on.
Not any more. The past two games—against teams fighting to avoid the Drop Zone—have consistently featured one frustrating image: Christian Eriksen with the ball, barreling toward goal, and nothing resulting. Rarely a shot, never a good shot, curious passing decisions that deposited the ball to the wrong person in the wrong position, heavy touches, surrendering of the ball—in short, it has been a litany of disappointing outcomes. And it doesn’t seem to matter if he is nominally on the left wing or in the middle—he’s getting the ball with a chance to create something. Eden Hazard doesn’t often fail to deliver; Alexis Sanchez or Santi Cazorla don’t either; Nor David Silva, Raheem Sterling or a handful of other top Premiership attackers. But lately Eriksen never produces something special. One can only hope this is a slump, born of a long season with little remaining to play for.
As for the rest, of course this defense would concede something today. Chiriches seems to be in the thrall of some Random Ball Distribution Program—as likely to pass it to the claret shirts as he is to a Lilywhite one. Fazio had one job—to fight Benteke for aerial balls—and failed miserably when it mattered most. Townsend did what Townsend does—a lot of sound and fury signifying next to nothing. And Kane cannot single-handedly tilt the field—opposition defenses have gotten rather good in bottling him up lately, which gets back to the other supposed difference-maker. If the Dane can’t be Great, we’re in for a much longer period of Europa penance than we feared.
As for the managerial drama, I really don’t care. Four-Four-Tim got his moment in the sun today. He heads back to the Midlands and mediocrity tomorrow. As for Spurs, it’s all starting to blur. Managers, players, styles, everything but the results: Europa… Europa…Europa… No exit in sight.
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