And to be honest, Burnley might flatter us today. At the end of the day the point we gained matters a lot less than the two points City lost—and once again Liverpool sits at the end of the rainbow as the likely beneficiary. I will start with the shots total—30 to 3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen us with such a disparity against. And I certainly have never seen so many passes in our back third, and passes, and passes, and all leading to absolutely nowt. Yes, they have terrific players but for most of this game I felt that Poch had been badly outcoached by Pep—because surely there should have been some way out for Spurs involving a long ball to the flanks or some more imaginative use of Winks, Eriksen or Ndombele. And to be brutally honest as much as Poch worked a miracle with the Lucas substitution his insertion of Skipp was about the opposite—it was Laporte he was tracking—badly—on the corner and was bailed out by the minimal touch on the City defender’s arm.
So in a way perhaps this was the perfect result. We got our toughest game out of the way in August—without several of our top players. Yet Poch can simply show the film to his team and tell/show them just where they fell short in advance of a NLD in two weeks and tough group stage games and a few other league games against pressing teams later this autumn. And we gained a point in the standings.
Where do I begin with the shortcomings? City targeted both flanks and I thought Rose and particularly Walker-Peters were each exposed. KWP lost Sterling on the opening goal. Danny was easily rounded by De Bruyne on the second and for that matter several other times where Lloris or good fortune prevented another goal. Sanchez was beaten by Aguero on the second goal. Nobody knew how or where to get the ball out of our end. I will admit my inferior tactical nous and thus not focus on one or two particular players—it was obviously a teamwide shortcoming. By the second half I had the feeling that nobody wanted the responsibility for the pass to get us out of trouble so they just passed the ball—and the buck—to the next guy. Hugo came up big at least twice and Danny also had a key clearance plus Aldeweireld and Sanchez did a reasonable park the bus impression.
As for the attackers, what attackers? Give Lamela credit for seizing one chance and Lucas again—impossibly—for an amazing header for the second. Kane was kept pretty ineffectual all game and when he did have an opportunity wasn’t at his best. Neither Ndembele nor Eriksen stood out—Sissoko was his usual galloping self but also lost the ball at least two or three times which reversed the field and led to yet another City assault. Son and Dele were missed today.
By the final 15 minutes or so it was obvious we had parked the bus and were holding on for the draw. That tactic rarely works for Spurs, and thanks to some tired or passive play it appeared it would fail again. (we weren’t passive in the UCL second leg. Eriksen simply made a horrible decision) But fortune, VAR and the new rulebook intervened.
So we got the point but Burnley (or West Brom/Norwich/Stoke in other days) can get them too. Next week against a desperate Newcastle side we’ll get a better idea of just where this team stands. And then the next week we play THEM at their place. If this game had been played 100 times, City wins 98 of them. Take the early Christmas present and move on. As for Eriksen—in really don’t care anymore. The sooner he leaves, the quicker we’ll be able to find out just what we have in Ndembele and particularly Lo Celso. He will always help us beat the Villas of the world—in games like today the verdict is more harsh.
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