Fair Result, Fair Performance

3
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The fatigue was obvious in the second half. As was the undeniable fact that this team defends so much better with Alderweireld than without. We could—make that should—have scored in the first half through either Janssen or Lamela—but Chicarito and Co. could easily have had two or three in the second. All we can hope for is that the flurry of fixtures doesn’t bite us in multiple places as we wait for the return of our best scorer and best defender. Bournemouth and Liverpool away, followed by Leicester, Leverkusen and the Gooners at home—all in the next three weeks. We’ll know a lot about this campaign’s direction when the next international break comes round.

As for today, Lloris was a clear MOTM who saved out proverbial bacon by inches and was superb throughout an increasingly stressful second half. None of the back four played badly—it’s just that Eric Dier is a good center back and the man he was replacing is a brilliant one. Rose in particular advanced the ball and created problems for Leverkusen’s defence—Tripper did not but that’s the trade off to keep Walker fresh for two critical away games in England.

The midfield was competent—Wanyama did what Wanyama does, Dembele added a little less flair than one could have hoped in the final 25 minutes—maybe we chalk it up to the lingering injury. Lamela continues to confound—as one wag at the pub where I watched today put it “when he’s good, he’s very good, and when he’s not…..” It’s been the latter far too often lately. Eriksen was also typically proficient except when the going got tough or the final decisive ball was necessary. And then it all turns to crap with him way too much. Janssen didn’t hold up defenders all that well today, to be honest—his one great chance was simply a few inches high. And Son and Alli simply work best with Janssen off the pitch—how Poch chooses to combine them all once Kane returns might just tell the tale of this season. The magic formula has yet to be found.

And in the second half all those international games on top of the trip to the Hawthorns clearly showed—Leverkusen had spark from the outset and pretty much dominated proceedings. We did well—thanks to our keeper—to prevent a goal as our efforts in their half grew feebler and feebler.

So pick your poison—if you accept the fact that of the next five games on the schedule, there will be at least one loss and one draw, what say you?  Liverpool would seem to be the sacrificial lamb in this equation—play Vorm, Carter-Vickers, Wimmer, Njoudou, Winks and Onomah and see what happens. We must win on the coast and against a Leicester side clearly punting away the League in favor of some extended European glory.  The return fixture vs the Aspirin Boys at Wembley is hardly a guaranteed result, nor is the NLD to follow. A draw or worse in the former will probably mean a 2017 return to the Europa league. A win in the latter keeps us on pace for a title, or a top three finish.

We still seem a brick or two short of the proper load—but points still come. It’s all a learning experience—this won’t be the last CL year nor the peak of Spurs’ powers. Tonight was tough but about what we are. Still striving, still learning, still competing. Not quite good enough—yet—to climb the next rung of the ladder.

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It's obvious that when you watch the game in a boozer you miss stuff. I watched it at home and saw Trippier make some excellent forays down the right hand side and create one of the best chances of the game with a superb cross, pin point!! In the first half Jansen's hold up play was very good and he was pivotal in creating chances for Son and Dele, when he came off it was obvious that we missed his hold up play creatively and in terms of relieving the pressure.

  2. Obviously we're not going to play well all the time. It is worrying, however, that (as with WBA) we dominated against the Germans yet missed vital chances in the first half that would have surely dictated how the rest of the game played out.
    The second half, however, came as a surprise. For 80% of it we were shabby beyond belief (I question the tiredness aspect as we're supposed to have the fittest squad in the PL, and also, it's not exactly the end of a long tiring season). Sure, the pressing as the home team from Leverkusen was excellent in that 2nd half, but even when they couldn't sustain it, there were crazy mistakes and slack (no, awful) passing from Spurs. Sure it's easy to view a pitch from above ..as I watched TV last night ..but what disappointed me (apart from great moments from the excellent Lloris, Rose, Verts, and to a lesser extent, Ali, Dier, Trippier and Jansen) was the lack of thought, concentration and imagination, as though from the half way line onwards we were a bunch of strangers kicking around in the park. Lamela is flattering to deceive too much lately, and I was praying for Dembele to come on for him ..not Jansen. Son, forced unfairly into the sole attacking spot, began to look like last season's Son (all energy but no thought ..er actually like others he LACKED even energy in the 2nd half).
    Eriksen, because we know how good he can be, was the biggest disappointment of all! He was disastrous every time the ball went to him in the 2nd half, whether under pressure or not. Wanyama had some good defensive moments but his passing was also terrible in the last 45. As for Dembele and Sissoko ..the least said the better. I've always worried about Dembele, a great holder-up of the ball but someone who lacks the vision to make a killer pass ..although they all seemed to do in that final 45. Sissoko was awful .. hardly able to track back when he lost the ball (fitness? …he, like Dembele, only spent a few minutes out there!) and I've yet to see the swashbuckling player who (on occasion) turned up for Newcastle and France.
    Despite our progress in forging a team, Poch's brilliant fitness regime, our press/push/run game, our ability to slot others in and keep the same team balance, we lack a number of things. We lack the plan B that should be in our locker ..and we lack, and I've said it since Modric left, a player who can control the middle of the park, to have the vision to see what's going on around him and make the right passes. I guess we can't have everything ..but it was lamentable in that second half to watch us as though we were some rudderless ship, or drunken sailor, trying to get back on course or regain control of our senses.

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