Ok, let’s be honest. He drives you crazy with all the 1 v 4 nonsense. There are times when you openly wonder “can’t we be better than this upfront? Where is vintage Eriksen? Dele? Even Lamela!!” And some question his politics in his home country, but I will not go there. The simple fact is that, without question, Lucas Moura has been our best outfield player this season and he did it again on Boxing Day.
We started slowly, enough so that it called into question the value of the 3-4-3 formation with Hojbjerg and Skipp holding in the middle. Made us start longing for Dele, Winks and Tanguy, though I fully expect at least two of those three to start on Tuesday v the Saints—as this is rotation season. Lucas lost the ball on a 1 v 4, and then he got possession again. And this time he was brilliant, collecting it in full stride and finding Kane with a picture perfect squared ball for a beautiful finish. All was right with the world. Then from a perfect cross from Emerson Royal, there he was again, the 5’ 7” leaper with a terrific placed header and we had doubled the advantage. Shortly thereafter Zaha confirmed what was obvious from the first whistle—he had somewhere better to go this time—and the game was done and dusted. But Son, who had yet another frustrating afternoon, needed service too so there was Lucas to the rescue with a smashed cross flicked in and we had a third to complete the victory. The simple truth is that on more days than not this type of effort from the Brazilian is the best we have to offer—we’d be nowhere near a Top Four finish (which is looking more and more likely with both the Hammers and Foxes cascading down the table) and we’d be waiting for reinforcements.
As to the rest, beyond Kane and Son’s goals in a good but not spectacular game for each, I have issues with both Hojbjerg and Skipp though they each defended and cleaned up well. They simply don’t do enough on the attack forcing Spurs to either counter very quickly or use the flanks—both of which are certainly capable pieces of our squad, but I am greedy and would like to see the type of play that Winks and Dele offered against Liverpool. But this will be a rotating squad for quite some time given the fixture backlog and two cup competitions.
Emerson had a good game and seems to be growing into the crossing role he is asked to play; Reguilon was not as imposing as Sessegnon had been last week, but he did have a justifiable complaint in the second half with Lucas cutting off balls better handled by him. The three central defenders are hard to judge after Zaha’s exit, but Sanchez sure had a fun run late in the game that almost paid off with a decent chance. Tanganga is not the ideal LCB choice going forward, but Davies can’t play every game and I assume the Welshman gets the call v the Saints and also Chelsea in the first cup tie.
More importantly, we are navigating an easier though busy stretch of games as we should—wins stacked on top of wins. There is no reason to think we won’t defeat both Southampton and Watford before the three cup games after New Year’s. Should Man United stumble that will leave us fifth, trailing Them but with games in hand, including the home version of the NLD. It sure is fun these days. In Conte we must trust.
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