Tell me you wouldn’t have taken the three points last Saturday noon from these two fixtures and walked quickly away. Four would have been nicer—six was never in the cards—and if I am taunting the Football Pip Gods who have another near-miss in store for Spurs, so be it. Let’s get on with Europa with the knowledge that our most difficult away fixture is done and dusted—there is not a game left on the list that this side cannot win, including the journey to Old Trafford or the visit of a suddenly listless holder side to the Lane.
Truth is our lads made too many errors to gain the point tonight. Bentaleb and Mason—for all their energy and fight—should never be confused for Scholes and Keane. Too many giveaways, too little dynamism in the middle of the field— but they are young and learning and they will have games such as tonight. All three goals featured fairly serious errors—Lloris bungled the first; Danny Rose made a needless and rash challenge on Sturridge for the second; Eric Dier simply lost Balotelli for the winner. We aren’t Mourinho’s Chelsea—not yet, maybe not ever. But the difference tonight from the three most recent games vs. the Reds is that Spurs stayed close or level the entire way. Each of their strikes was matched by one of our own—Kane, Lamela and Dembele all shining and the days of the massive blowout appear to be gone. And only at the death did fatigue finally seem to win the day—seven of those outfield players played 90+ minutes twice in four days against two of the best six sides in the league, to a solid if not remarkable effect.
Top four will come down to two separate fronts—could this team sweep through Europe and perhaps meet this same bunch from Anfield in a semi-final or even the final in Poland? Unlikely given the knockout nature of the competition but hardly impossible. Could we pip the likes of Southampton, Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal—three of them, at least—to get to the Champions League the old-fashioned way? Yes—but the away games at Old Trafford and St. Mary’s will probably tell the tale. The worry is that the fact that both competitions may proceed a pace for a while—each wounding the other—let alone the impact of a sure to be emotional v. Chelsea where Capital One Cup final 2015 tickets will be in demand. But I’ll take our chances and believe in the manager’s ability to keep the ship on course. Ben Davies will get a call soon—so will Stambouli and Fazio. And Harry Kane will keep scoring and whirling around the pitch. A small setback tonight—the lads will be the stronger for it.
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