Opinion: Effort, energy and enough to win

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Hardly anything surprised me about this game. The effort was much better than in any game since the restart. Both defences had problems with the likes of Aurier, Luiz and Mustafi producing chances or goals or both. They possessed better, we relied on the counter, and by the final twenty minutes it became obvious that our strength had trumped theirs. 

Each keeper made a terrific save (Davies (!) and Aubameyang) and Martinez added a few for good measure. In the end we were better organized in the back than they were and if it weren’t for Kane’s curious inability to finish it might easily have been three or four. What does it mean? I think we go to Europa and they don’t. Though today’s CAS decision for Manchester City might still result in both being frozen out to the Blades. I think we finish ahead of them, FWIW. I think Jose has a better idea about where he needs to improve (fullback—both sides; and a playmaker and back-up striker though certainly both Lo Celso and Winks did well today. And we were playing on 48 hours less rest.

As for the specifics, Serge Aurier was simply Serge Aurier. One giveaway cost us a goal. I’m not sure if he was to blame for Aubameyang’s ball off the post but all their best chances seemed to come down our right. And his crosses, as usual, left something to be desired. Ben Davies’ cannon shot was terrific—and he was adequate in his limited fashion. He did press forward and disrupt Arsenal attacks several times. 

The central defence was quite good, and praise to Alderweireld for the winner. Winks grew into the game but he is dismal trying to keep up with any forward or midfielder with pace and moves. Lo Celso did what he does though I wish I had seen a few more balls going forward. Lucas’ effort was fantastic but he drove into traffic a bit much to my taste. Son for the goal was still off—slow to the ball several times—he dithers like Dele or Lamela too often. But again the work rate and the ability to flip the field in the final twenty minutes. 

Moussa Sissoko was his typical freight train self—I cannot complain but of course the Bermuda triangle that is too often him and Aurier in their end on the right is frustrating. As for Kane I cannot criticise either the effort or the overall judgment, except for one thing. His finishing is simply not what it was – we can all see that. He elected to chip when a quick deke could have put him past Martinez and in alone in the first ten minutes, He had at least three other superb chances and simply couldn’t find the net. I just don’t know what to think—was he simply better than anyone could ever have expected, or that his talent justified, for about three seasons? And that a good but not world class striker is what we will see in the future. I suspect the transfer price—COVID or no COVID—has come down a fair amount. But he’s still one of our own, and we have no one remotely close to what he provides. Let’s just give him a decent back-up next season so he can stay fresh through whatever competitions we are in.

We could easily win the final three, though Leicester has a lot to play for. Newcastle and Crystal Palace do not, and they both appear to be mailing it in. 58 to 61 points was hardly the plan this season. But before Jose arrived I’m not sure we could have sniffed it. The jury, of course, is out on him—how can it not be? But he’s got twelve months to turn this back into a real quality side. That work begins soon.


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