Is it too soon to say that we are fast becoming a true Jose team? Play ugly football and somehow get a result? And mind you this is not a criticism of him—this game in what should have been a winter break featured one side that continually pressed to win the game, showing spark, energy and inventive attacking, and another that looked lost, knackered and too often bereft of any strategy than one of their two forwards going 1 v 3, irrespective of where and how many their teammates were open on the wings.
But the narrative flipped in the final 15 minutes, thanks to goals from each of those two forwards, the second the product of a wondrous combination of play from our best player, Dele Alli whose cameo last night was easily enough to earn him MOTM, as Steve McManaman wanted to say but couldn’t quite get there.
So we move on to a home date against a Norwich side that could easily have defeated us twice in the last month—so watch out for the recurring narrative. Could one of those Kane appearances Jose forecast today be in another final?
Would Mourinho make the same decision Poch did, playing Kane in favour of Lucas who presumably would have done a lot of the heavy lifting to get us to Wembley. Too soon, I suppose. Particularly where for those 80 minutes there were so many lowlights. Lloris shaky throughout. Jan was slow—he is always slow these days—and while the cameras may have focused quite hard on his grim reaction to the substitution, one suspects he is looking inward not at his manager for reproach.
Tanganga and Toby were alright, I suppose—the three midfielders in front were not. Ndombele gets credit for the shot that deflected in off Stephens but, per usual, became quickly knackered. Winks appeared to have left his best football on this same pitch three days prior against City, and I can’t for the life of me understand just what Dier brings to the equation. He is also slow, and you can and passive and technically deficient to the list as well. The linkage of Spurs look awful and Dier is in the starting XI is far too common.
Sessegnon had some good moments but it’s going to be a while before he masters the left wingback position. Aurier the same but we’ll never know what might have come from a couple of times Son or Lucas failed to get him the ball. Gedson was spritely when he came on. I’ve already had my say about the two forwards—thank goodness they converted when we needed it most. Dele was brilliant in his cameo—the flick around the referee to start the winning play and then one of the best balls of the season to Son for what became the penalty were simply sublime.
Fifteen good minutes were somehow enough. Let’s hope Lo Celso is back quickly and that there’s a Ben Davies sighting. And Bergwijn is part of the mix as well. Sixteen teams left—and all of our toughest opposition apart from Chelsea have to play away in the next round.
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