Opinion: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Tanguy Ndombele
David Rogers/Getty Images

It’s all about Tanguy, isn’t it? Credit to Gollini for the shootout and the efforts of Reguilon and Gil (who had them in any list of penalty-takers for Spurs this season) as well as old dependable, Kane. 

Credit some at times sparkling play from the likes of Lo Celso, Gil, Dele and Skipp. Worry that over a month into the season not one dependable defender has emerged—Davies was passable tonight, but Tanganga’s aggression is as much famine as feast, Sanchez was at times ripped apart and Romero made a crucial mistake leading to the equaliser and could have been held responsible for one or two more had Wolves finished better. But the story of this game revolved around our enigmatic biggest signing ever, with no real verdict about just what Ndombele may supply over the next three months or the five after that should he remain past the winter window.

The first twenty five minutes were a master class. He poked his leg into several Wolves players, winning possession, then used his creative nous to pick out another Spurs player—often Gil or Kane—to move the ball goal-wards. He dazzled after receiving a pass, no greater than on the goal when he briefly lost possession, regained it, paused to allow the defender to outrun him, then calmly found the far corner. And then… after such a wondrous start—it all started to slip away. He had a quarter-hour of rather quiet play, perhaps winded by all the exertions of the previous twenty-five, or maybe that Wolves started to mark him  better—except for the one egregious mistake with whatever he was attempting to do matched up with Dendoncker in the box.

So if being responsible for one Wolves goal wasn’t enough, after a brilliant cross from Dele found Bryan Gil alone for the simplest of tap-ins, only to see the trailing leg of John Ruddy somehow deflect it to safety, Tanguy doubled his, or Wolves, actually, pleasure. He carelessly lost control moving backwards just short of the midfield stripe, then watched in horror as Daniel Podence undressed Cristian Romero to level the score. He did find his legs again near the end with one superb effort that fizzed out in the box as all Spurs chances in the final hour or more of this game seemed to have done. 

We are better with him than without him. The team sparkled in that first half hour with Tanguy as the engine—if Dele and Gio hadn’t each fallen down in front of goal, the lead would have been three or four goals and out of sight. He gives us something that no one since Eriksen has, though his skill set is very different. But the mistakes were horrific—a bumbling case of defending directly leading to their first goal, a careless possession which should be beyond him leading to the second. 

Now we play the Gooners still missing Lucas and Bergwijn, and with Kane now having played parts or all of every game for club country he could the last month—I think the count is up to 8 with a ninth this weekend at the Emirates. 

We are dodging injury bullets all the while. Arsenal have finally found the means to goal-scoring and are arguably healthier than we are at present. We might be happy for a 2-2 outcome then—I fear the way this defence—still lacking one dependable member—could be ripped apart by the likes of Saka, Aubameyang, Partey and Odegaard. 

Burnley away gives us a chance to reach the quarter-finals in the League Cup… this may be a season when we have to sacrifice the odd game in the league—even the NLD—to those trophy ambitions.

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