Opinion: Climb the Gil Before the mountain

Bryan Gil
Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

We scored three goals, should have been four or five; could have been six or seven. Harry is back and scoring, nearly all who started last week and were selected last night played better, aided by their talisman, Dier and Lucas. 

There were good signs throughout the pitch, a few fizzles, and some generally impressive aspects of play by Lo Celso, Winks, Sessegnon, Doherty and particularly one Bryan Gil. The Spaniard created the first goal, was smoothly aggressive throughout, was linking with Ryan Sessegnon on several occasions, and could easily have scored one or two himself but for some bad fortune. 

It makes one wonder just what Adama Traore’s true role would be, though to be fair, this defence is nowhere near the quality we will face week in and week out in the Premier League. I thought the effort by him and Sessegnon (and Gio) was as impressive as the ball-handling and running into space. But for a dull period early in the second half, Spurs were always in command of this game and would recover from the few mistakes they did make with following pressure from the Portuguese.

Matt Doherty deserves some praise, because Lord knows he’s had little of it in the past twelve months. He played the right wingback role almost flawlessly—he knew Romero was behind to cover, but he didn’t overcommit needlessly but was constantly searching for a through ball or to make his own run and was firing some pretty good crosses into Kane and Co. in the box. And the same for Winks—again, consider the opposition, but the effort was better, there were a couple of really good tackles to win back the ball, and he was solid in a Number 6 role. Lo Celso was not perfect, but his effort helped produce the second goal and he seemed to be in the middle of most of our best scoring chances. Romero’s yellow wasn’t even a foul—he was solid—as was Dier but for an early mistake that could have cost us when Gollini had one of a couple of nervy moments.

But overall it was what the doctor ordered. Kane was poaching as a good striker must, and alternated between goal-bound runs and deeper play when he could turn the ball upfield or try to pick out Moura or Lo Celso or Doherty moving forward. Bergwijn did his usual thing for fifteen minutes, maybe the goal is never coming and we just have to applaud the pace and creativity before it all goes wrong. I want to see more of Gil. I suspect he and Sessegnon will continue to be the left flank pair in all things Cup this season, but I also think in the right situation off the bench or when injuries arise, there could be an opportunity for him in the league as well. He’s got more creativity in their third than anyone we’ve seen since peak Eriksen and peak Dele.

So now we await the final five days of the window. Will “Les Trois Amis” all be departing? Can we get someone to take Moussa and Serge off our hands, and will there be a bright young talent coming back for Tanguy? I hope there’s one more defender in our immediate future, though of course Rodon will get healthy which does leave us with four decent center backs assuming Tanganga continues to be featured on the right. The 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 formation works in these games as well as the 4-2-3-1 we will probably settle into on Sunday—flexibility is a good thing. All things concerned this August has left us in pretty decent shape—we don’t know if there could still be a Top Four challenge, but one can’t rule it out. We don’t know if there can be one or two serious cup runs, but you can’t rule it out.  And he stayed. All to look forward to.


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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.


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