Opinion: We won… hurray, but against a weak side

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Giovani Lo Celso
PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC/AFP via Getty Images

After my angry article, I am not going to modify that anger here. One match doesn’t make things right straight away. Ok, we put 9 goals (home and away) against an unconvincing Belgrade side. What is the betting that Pochettino will change the team (and a good side) against Sheffield United? He does this all the time (the tinker-man).

We need consistency, not scrabble, moving the letters (read, players) around the scrabble board in the hope he gets a winning formula (which he wouldn’t know if it bit him on the backside).

We started off with some good news. Son’s red card had been rescinded (he would still have played in this game anyway) and Kane was available (unfortunately, so was Eriksen).

As you have read, saw and angered over, our overall form this season has been poor (using such cute simplistic terms, rather than calling a sparrow by an abusive term), losing four of our 11 matches in the Premier League and suffering a 7-2 humiliation at home by Bayern Munich. Should I also mention Colchester as well?

But the best team in north London has recovered from that demolition in outstanding fashion, at least in Europe, by scoring nine goals in back-to-back games against Red Star. “Outstanding,” see how I can cloud over things by using colourful language just to please myself (thus denying the bleeding bloody obvious!)? It is just one game, for christ sake! We can cheer when we’ve got a string of good results.

Our victory in Belgrade, against a home side, tend to provide a stern examination for the visitors, losing just twice in their previous 21 games in Europe at the Rajko Mitic Stadium, including an impressive victory over eventual winners Liverpool last season. Does that change anything? We should call a turd a turd, not dress it up as if it was caviar.

As you all know and probably witnessed (if not in person, then at least on TV) Son (‘nice one’) was sent off for tripping Gomes in the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Sunday and was visibly distraught by the injury, but Pochettino said he was “in a very good way” to play and his two goals showed it. At least some good has come out of, what was a dark place.

For his first, he received a pass inside the area from Dele Alli, worked it onto his left foot and smashed a finish into the roof of the net. With the events of Sunday still on his mind, Son opted to remain subdued (he shouldn’t as accidents are accidents).

 

His second finished off a neat team move, converting from close range following Danny Rose’s low cross to the back post.

Midfielder Eriksen came off the bench (he should have stayed there, as his passes were weak, as usual) to round off an excellent night for the whole team, plus all those that were there, by deftly clipping in with five minutes remaining.

But let us talk about Lo Celso, who displayed his potential in front of a 42,381 crowd, plus all those watching at home.

Our Argentine midfielder Lo Celso joined us on loan – with an option to buy – from Real Betis on transfer deadline day in August, but has been restricted to six substitute appearances having struggled with a hip problem. But in Serbia, he showed a glimpse of his potential with an all-round, energetic performance, seemingly shaking of his early-season injury issues. If Pochettino had given him more quality time then maybe, yes, maybe, some of our results would have been different, and it might have restricted that clown’s (Eriksen) appearances.

During his 86 minutes on the pitch, Lo Celso touched the ball more times (102) and made more tackles (five) than any other player on the pitch, while he won the ball back eight times. He made 79 passes with an accuracy of 90% (take note wanting-out-Eriksen).

The former Paris St-Germain player finished off the opening goal well, taking a touch and stroking in from six yards out but not before an incredibly chaotic period of play.

Lo Celso had slipped Harry Kane through on the goal and the skipper toe-poked his effort against the post, while Son saw his follow-up cleared off the goalline.

The Red Star defenders failed to clear and the ball eventually reached Kane again at the back post, but his volley across goal was somehow diverted onto the crossbar by Son from a yard out.

Again Red Star were unable to get the ball to safety, allowing Lo Celso to claim his first goal for Tottenham.

As for our goalkeeper Gazzaniga, let us hope he continues to play well and eventually displaces Hugo Lloris as our first choice. But knowing Pochettino, I doubt it (he likes his favourites, does good old Poch!).

So, this victory was our first away win in any competition in nine games this season (D5 L3). I am hoping that that win is the start of something good, but I am not optimistic with the way Pochettino selects his team.

As for Red Star Belgrade, they have suffered their most massive home defeat in their European Cup/Champions League history.

We have become the first English team to beat Red Star away from home in a Champions League/European Cup tie.

Red Star have conceded more goals than any other side after four rounds of matches in this season’s Champions League (13).

We have now scored in each of our past 13 Champions League away games – only Chelsea (13 between March 2000 and April 2005) can match such a run among English sides in the competition.

Giovani Lo Celso scored his sixth goal in his past eight appearances across the Europa League/Champions League. Next up will be Sheffield United, and I fear Pochettino will be back to his old ways in team selection, and we could face another home defeat. I hope not, but you never know with the erratic Mauricio.

So, that is my thoughts on Wednesday nightsfootball, I do, however, hope I am wrong on the up and coming Sheffield United game (and that Pochettino does learn the lessons of the past). At the end of the day, all I want is for us to be successful. If not with Pochettino then somebody else who can take us forward.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I certainly agree with your trenchant views on Pochettino, but am surprised how quickly you’ve come to see the reality of his many flaws (of which favouritism is just one) – weren’t you a ‘Spurs are on the up’ merchant not so long ago? It seems as if a few people are seeing the light now, though – I even heard some criticism of Pochettino on Radio 5Live recently, concerning the ‘freezing-out’ of various players, of whom KWP is seemingly the latest. If even the BBC sports department has fallen out of love with him, Pochettino must be in real trouble!

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