Liverpool are our saving grace

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The Merseyside comparison is about all that’s keeping Poch and his crew above water these days. “You lost to Man City, Man United and Arsenal away?” “Yes, but we thrashed Liverpool at home” “On a weekend when nearly all your rivals won three points, you could only manage a draw v drop zone Southampton?” “Yes, but Liverpool lost to bottom dweller Swansea the next day” “You came within one Harry Kane tap-in of losing to a League Two side, or its equivalent, for the first time in more than 100 years?” “Yes, but we play on, and Liverpool were eliminated at home to next to last West Bromwich.”

Maybe it’s enough solace. But let’s face it—if today (and most of the past month) is any indication of how well Spurs will play in the three week gauntlet they now must run, this season could devolve rather quickly and leave a host of questions about just what the Pochettino project will become or how long it might last, hanging until summer. I guess the silver lining is how can Real Madrid want a coach who can’t beat Newport County?

As for the game, it was patently obvious from the first few minutes that this starting XI could not, and would not, score. Llorente and Kane simply don’t function well together. Wanyama coming back from injury and a diminished Dembele were never going to create any serious chances. Walker-Peters looked small and scared; Trippier has regressed since his early glory versus the Galacticos. When Moussa Sissoko is the likeliest player to create a scoring chance, your selection decisions have to be questioned. The game was crying for Son and Dele—and sure enough, Spurs finally broke the duck once they came on. We can only hope Eriksen is completely healthy for the games ahead and that Harry Winks might return before too long. Erik Lamela seems to be reverting to enigmatic self, once again unavailable.

The defence was befuddled by the pitch, the wind and the opposition tactics. The Exiles (and isn’t that a marvellous nickname?) knew that playing into the wind in the first half would hold up every long kick and throw and force Spurs defenders to deal with awkward bounces and situations. We simply didn’t adjust particularly well and a goal was inevitable, though Kieran Trippier certainly helped the home side considerably with a whiff of a clearance. And there was simply no response in return—Walker-Peters was, frankly, pitiful when given the ball with space on the left; Trippier’s crosses lacked accuracy; Wanyama and Dembele were feckless; Llorente tried to hold the ball, and occasionally succeeded, but to little avail; Kane was isolated and often hemmed in. Again, only when Sissoko worked up a head of steam did Spurs appear capable of threatening, but then again it was Sissoko and not one of our better attackers so the finish wasn’t going to be there.

And now come United, then to Anfield, then the replay, then the Gooners, then to Turin— ahhhh… Do you know what might be an excellent bet? Particularly if Spurs win the Newport replay? Palace on the 26th at Selhurst Park. Spurs will be on fumes by then.

I don’t for the life of me know how this stretch will go. Anything is possible, but certainly Spurs dropping a game or two is well within the range of possibility. A loss to Liverpool and a decisive defeat to Juve would leave Spurs gasping for air in two of their three remaining competitions. But how would a win over either taste if Spurs lose to Arsenal or Man United at Wembley and draw to the other? And what if we, God forbid, drop the replay to Newport? The Barcelona break in the sun has so far lost the plot— this is one time where the significance of recapturing it—and soon—cannot be underestimated.

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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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I have no idea why Dier is ever given the roll of central defender! He has proved many times that he can’t handle the job and constantly gives the ball away in dangerous areas. He was marking the invisible man for Newport’s goal last night, just not up to it! Then we come to Sissoko… more starts than any other player this season and still can’t give most of us a clue as to what Poch sees in him. He is one of the worst footballers I have ever seen in a Spurs shirt. I’ll leave it there or I’ll start getting abusive!

  2. Poch talks a good fight and then sends out a team like that ,terrible terrible terrible,KWP was not in position, and could not hack playing on the left,Dier can not defend full stop!, Wanyama looks off the pace completly, Trippier did not offer anything in attack or defence.Liorente has two speeds slow and very slow,has no thought process missing preseason is no excuse for total crap performances this far into the season? Sissoko panics when he goes past someone and has a clear path ahead, did anyone see the new guy Leicester got for £1.2 million looks bargain of the century, yes I know it’s one game but he did more than many of our players have all season! Did no one at Spurs look at Newport before playing them,I knew what there strengths and weaknesses were and that padrig amond scores goals for fun and is a championship/premiership player in all but name,and lucky Mclousky came on to late to affect the match, this had Port Vale written all over this match, and yes I was there as well. Newport stuffed Leeds, we should never underestimate the underdog. But ALWAYS do.

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