Be honest. You didn’t think it was ever going to come, either. After a frustrating afternoon of ignored penalty shouts, missed chances, crazy bounces, innumerable poor crosses and, to be fair, solid Hodgson-directed defending, I had resigned myself to a disappointing draw. Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane in particular would have been singled out for respectively poor and invisible performances. But the energy in those final fifteen minutes was greater—Kane in particular—as if they simply were not going to leave these two points unclaimed. A good cross for a change, and a brilliant header back to the near corner—textbook stuff and away we go to a date with Rochdale.
As for the rest of it, on the first penalty Kevin Friend was obviously not looking—choosing to follow the ball just like a defender might. But Hennessey tripped Davies—open and shut. On the second I guess I can understand a reluctance to reward an attacker surrounded by three defenders, particularly when it’s Dele. But he was whacked in the shin by Van Aanholt as clear as day and it should have been a spot kick. Of the various chances, give Hennessey credit for the early save on Kane, and the late ones from Aurier and Davies. (The fact that it was those two who had two of the best chances speaks volumes about how Palace bottled Spurs up this day) Aurier should have had the winner from Davies’ superb cross near the end, and a revitalized Kane sent a ball just wide soon thereafter.
The Vertonghen absence caused me some worry, with a back line of Aurier, Dier, Sanchez and Davies reading like the greatest hits of Spurs calamities this season. Dier did gift a ball early and Aurier seemed to have a strange relationship with the touch line on various throw-ins, but overall they were solid against a pretty tepid Palace attack. Dembele, Eriksen and Lamela all had moments of profligacy—I guess one shouldn’t be too harsh given how tightly packed Hodgson had set his defence. The booking of Mousa was outrageous—Townsend auditioning for the British Olympic diving team there.
Lamela was only average—running around to little effect—Moura was not a lot better but did occupy the space a bit more menacingly, as did Son in the final ten minutes. I thought Dele had one of his better games but Palace limited the damage with a smart game plan. Wanyama looks better every time out—we will need him if the Champions League parade keeps moving. Eriksen’s crosses were uninspired until the only one that mattered—and his playmaking skills seemed on holiday, as did Kane’s holding efforts.
We haven’t had many of these games since early Wembley this season. It is clear that this version of Spurs will more than often win these games then settle for the disappointing result. The loser of United and Chelsea becomes are mark for the Top Four.
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