So it’s raining cats and dogs every day? Threat of snow? A team frustrated after three league defeats on the spin with little or no goal-scoring capability? Fan base up in arms? Well, I’ve got the answer to you. Warm weather, sunshine, a pint, some tapas, maybe some flamenco guitar for good measure. Such was the tonic that Big Sam and his squid provided a Harry Kane-included Spurs squad yesterday. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
As for the game, of course, we dominated. Of course, we wasted our best chances for fifty minutes until we didn’t. Kudos to Hojbjerg for threading the pass to Kane, to Kane for a clinical finish, and to Lucas and others who set up Son for an even easier finish to salt this game away. But of course but for a bit too much eagerness on behalf of their striker, there were the dangerous balls into the box that on a different day v a different side might easily have yielded a goal or two and denied us the victory.
But this isn’t the time to harp on negative things—Aurier was back and effective, Sanchez and Toby were acceptable, the midfield was more aggressive (Lamela and Lucas both making contributions) and our finishers finished. So while Champions League looks a remote possibility—and probably best won through the Europa League, a top seven finish is still attainable. We’ve got that going for us– which is nice.
But let’s face it—that isn’t what Jose was hired to do. The midweek games over the next three weeks are the ones he was brought here to win. So far—and admittedly the opposition has been poor but for a good Championship side in Brentford and Chelsea who we escaped from via penalties before their previous manager had figured out how to play his team (well, maybe he never did)—Jose hasn’t lost a knockout game yet.
The Toffees are a tough draw coming after their spirited late comeback at Old Trafford yesterday with a dangerous front line against our leaky defence, Calvert-Lewin in particular seems primed to cause trouble. But this is the type of game where our manager can set us up in a way that gives us our best chance. Surely it will be largely a counter-attacking approach—with possibly the same lineup we saw today except for Sissoko or Doherty starting in place of either Lamela or Lucas and Aurier.
And if we win he can then decide just how much priority to give to what surely is the toughest league game remaining on the fixture list—City at the Etihad after they will have journeyed to Wales to play Swansea. I’m thinking that AVB has time on his hands, and is schooled in how to produce a 6-0 defeat because maybe the Wolfsberger game a week Thursday is the bigger of the two. So bring him in to be the guest coach.
We might just see a sacrifice on the weekend because, despite our surprising success against Pep these past three years, this seems a huge mismatch. But that is why Levy pays Jose the big bucks—for all the problems, away wins in trophy competitions the next ten days will give the final three months of this season some real focus. At least we can enjoy the respite from the slog for a few days.
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