After Sunday’s debacle, any adjective that precedes the words “clean” and “sheet” is acceptable. But let’s be real—but for one brief period near the end of the first half when we got a bit sloppy. LASK were never going to score in this game. The back four all did fine—I thought Ben Davies was probably the standout of the quartet defensively—with both Reguilon and Doherty making some nice plays going forward, the forward’s swerving run leading to the second goal. And the central midfield was solid—first with Winks and Hojberg and then when Sissoko came on for the final half hour and Lo Celso for fifteen minutes. I’ve been hard on Winks lately—I thought this was his most controlled and intelligent performance in quite some time.
But all the real talking points concern the forwards—some good, some bad and some ugly. As a group—other than Son and Kane who mercifully got a well-deserved night off—they should all go to Attacking 101 and learn just how goals are made. (Gareth—I apologise. Your appearance at this class is simply to better understand your new teammates and give then some instruction on the finer points of offensive football).
Poorly timed runs, poor passes, poor crosses, bad decisions—we had it all for the hour or so after the first two goals and before Sonny’s final tally. Jack Clarke had his moment—and missed badly. Dele had two terrific opportunities—he missed the first in alone on goal, and then with two or three simple targets in perfect position, his cross somehow managed to find the keeper instead. Jose was none too happy.
Unfortunately for Dele, these cameos may be the only chances he gets to make a contribution for the next few months—he had better start talking advantage of them. The effort was strong from everyone—it was just the lack of skill and judgment that turned what easily could have been a 4-0 or 5-0 scoresheet into something less.
But enough carping. Bale looked solid. Still a bit slow and not in total synch with his teammate—but the power from his flank was evident—his ball was the one deflected in for the second—he knows what he is doing. Once he, Son and Kane get more familiar with each other, Spurs will have the most dynamic front line in the league and yes, that includes Mane-Firmino-Salah. And our South American contingent all deserve praise. Lucas was active and dangerous and took his time with the finish on the first goal. Lamela was typically herky-jerky aggressive and while he missed a couple of link-up opportunities, I can never fault the energy he brings. And of course I’ll save the best for last. Carlos Vinicius is a runaway MOTM—for not one but two peaches of assists—a beautiful back turn pass to Lucas for the first goal and a neat little flick to Son for the final goal. He was active spaced pretty well and sure looked the part of a fine back-up—my only quibble would be losing some 50-50 balls while attempting to hold up the defender, but it is a quibble. An impressive debut.
This team can and will score—but there will be plenty of games ahead where a) the opposition attack will be much more fierce and b) wasted chances will cost us points. So Jose will not let this team relax—I expect an aggressive approach at Turf Moor and then we go to Antwerp before returning home v Brighton. No reason to think this side can’t go on a nice run before we must tussle with Manchester City in a month.
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