To say that this was the nadir of the Poch era would be misleading for two reasons: 1) because it could clearly get worse and b) because it’s giving Spurs a bit too much credit.
The first half was a first-class train wreck. Give two class players full credit for how they scored—but the simple fact is Davinson Sanchez gave Jamie Vardy far too much space on the opener, and the second by Mahrez was a collective defensive breakdown that should shame the entire squad. Meanwhile first Sissoko then Dele were thwarted on much better chances the ones Leicester converted—again credit Schmeichel but Sissoko should/could have found another six inches of air and Dele was a bit unfortunate he was on his weaker foot and couldn’t place the ball better.
Christian Eriksen appears to have left his game somewhere in Copenhagen or Dublin—the disturbing pattern of poor touches, poor decisions and poor passes continued tonight. Nowhere did the Dane’s shortcomings rear their head more than in the buildup to the Mahrez goal—a buildup that appeared to be giving Spurs the chance to equalize. First Eriksen got the ball in space and in the box and rather than challenge Schmeichel he elected to try a touch pass to Kane that was a yard off direction. Then a matter of ten or fifteen second later he got the ball again, with the clock counting down, and rather than bulling his way toward goal he sent an ineffectual chip toward Rose on the left—Leicester easily intercepted and off went Mahrez with Spurs akimbo just watching the three points disappear. In the second half twice in 30 seconds he had the ball in the box, easily surrendering it the first time, then kicking well wide alone in front of goal on the second. Take a three week holiday, man. Or something. And of course within a minute of his removal Erik Lamela found Kane to give Spurs hope.
On the same pitch where Spurs could do no wrong just six months ago, they were outclassed tonight. Serge Aurier appeared to be afraid of pressing down the right flank, perhaps for fear of being caught up. When the storm finally came the passes didn’t quite connect, and when they did, Fernando Llorente missed an absolute gimme on a tap-in for the equalizer. They fought hard but from two goals down and to no result.
So now the damage (pretty much all after Alderweireld’s injury—the repeat of last season’s slump with him gone but this absence will last for at least eight more league games) reads like this: since the rout at Wembley over Liverpool, Spurs have, in domestic competitions:
- Blown a 2-0 halftime lead and lost a Cup game to West Ham;
- Been held scoreless and pointless at both Old Trafford and the Emirates;
- Barely edged bottom dwellers Crystal Palace at home and drew there v lowly West Brom;
- And now this…
The victories over Madrid and Dortmund will only matter in three more months when the Champions League resumes—in the meantime Spurs appear to be fully capable of falling out of serious Top Four competition or, at the best, being consigned to a three team death match with Arsenal and Liverpool for the final place. The implications of losing that competition, particularly if it is not accompanied by silverware from either the FA Cup or the dream of a Champions League miracle, are harsh, new stadium or not. Brave new world, indeed. Meet the new boss, Poch. You had better start caring about a domestic cup trophy—it may be all you have to play for come spring.
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