Yes, it could be worse. We could be them. They are pure crap. We are simply crap with a hint of quality. But, on the other hand, they have an old manager who everyone knows should have left the building years ago. We are supposed to be the ones with everything in front of them. But I suppose when you have Kieran Trippier in the lineup, everything will never be in front of you.
Let me start at the beginning. The first half was poor. Not catastrophic, just poor. But for Kane’s mangled attempt to shoot directly in front of Heaton, Spurs could not manage a shot on net despite lording the possession. It was a familiar pattern—Davies and Trippier lack the pace to break down the defence on the flanks; the opposition packs the middle and if our attackers—in this case Eriksen and Son were particularly guilty—cannot manage a proper linkup, frustration will ensue. Robbie Brady’s cross turned shot and a couple of Burnley headers from corners were better chances than anything Spurs produced but for the Kane debacle.
In the second half, our team showed up and Dele’s goal was a deserved and unsurprising result. More vexing was the twenty minutes that followed, where Kane missed a wide open net, was turned away by a Heaton fingertip, Eriksen (from Sissoko) was also just barely denied by the Claret keeper, and then both Dele and Kane shot right at Heaton when two feet to either side produces the clincher. And then in typical Spurs’ fashion from years gone by, we waited around for Burnley to equalise. In the final ten minutes before Wood’s goal Spurs seemed either content or too spent to do anything other than watch Lloris make a goal kick, Burnley recover possession, and then start to defend. And repeat the cycle. And here’s where Pochettino deserves some of the blame. I’m all for continuing to press to score the second goal. To a point. At some stage, when a side realizes that maybe it’s simply not their day for multiple goals, you have to tighten up and deny the opposition. Instead, first Robbie Brady (Lloris with his best save of the day) and then Wood (after lulling Spurs to sleep with at least four (or was it five?) offsides violations in his 25 minutes on the pitch) were left alone in a dangerous position. On the latter (Kyle: “who’s laughing now?”), Kieran Trippier was stuck ten yards up field doing nothing to prevent the one thing he should have prevented—an open attacker down his side of the pitch. At least Walker might have had the energy and pace to recover and perhaps distract Wood enough to give Hugo a chance. Serge Aurier can’t come too soon.
The sad truth about today was not only that Kane missed multiple scoring chances but Moussa Sissoko did more to create opportunities in his twenty minutes than Eriksen or Son did for their entire time on the pitch. Spurs failed to get control of this game; and then they bottled it at the end. Poch will blame his team—as he should—and of course it is not the ground. But he needs to look in the mirror as well—it’s been three plus years for him to instill the proper discipline and effort to shut a game down. Would Mourinho have so blithely allowed an equalizer, particularly after the scare from Brady just five minutes earlier?
It is not premature to label the first two games after the international break as absolutely crucial for this season. Poch laid down the markers—the only two trophies that matter are the league title and the Champions League. Lose at Goodison and fail to win v Dortmund at Wembley and only a fool would fancy Spurs’ chances to compete on either front beyond November. Both Manchester sides, Chelsea and probably Liverpool are clearly ahead of us now—we don’t have the luxury of waiting a month or two to catch up.
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