For the five seconds that one could consider that Spurs might actually walk away from the KP Stadium with three points it was possible to wish away our deficiencies. Then Riyad Mahrez wiped away those illusions and we had a (barely) deserved result.
This was a deceivingly important fixture, with some real conclusions emerging from the heat.
First, Clinton N’Jie, Saido Berahino, Victor Wanyama and… Danny Rose cannot come into this XI soon enough. Spurs were plodders today—simple unable to produce the pace necessary to convert numerous takeaways and counters into something dangerous.
Second, for the first time I believe Erik Lamela will and should be sent packing. With Eriksen out with a knee injury, what better opportunity could the enigmatic Argentine have to show his worth. And but for an occasional sharp delivery or two, he failed the audition. He is not particularly quick. He is not strong. His ball moves rarely produce any quality. And foolish giveaways and fouls are, unfortunately, the most dependable parts of his repertoire. With a healthy Eriksen, N’Jie and another striker—let’s call him Berahino—Lamela’s value to this team may only be Europa and Cup games. Is that worth 15 million quid that could be spent in some other way? I’m now concluding the answer is no.
Third, whatever the skill level and complimentary strength that Toby Alderweireld brings, Jan Vertonghen’s limitations become more apparent with each passing week. He should have been hit with a penalty on Mahrez in the first half, he failed to close down in the box on Mahrez for the equalizer, he put his goalkeeper in poor situations on at least two other occasions. He is as far from Terry or Vidic—or a 2011-12 Michael Dawson—as the man on the moon. It gives me no pleasure to type these words, but this Belgian will simply never be an anchor of our defense.
Fourth, Nacer Chadli—despite the fact that his chip created the chance that Dell Alli converted for our lone goal—is simply not the type of quality forward that an ambitious club like Spurs must feature. Wasted chances, poor shots, weak crosses, and the clear lack of pace are commonplace with this Belgian. Because Lamela (Dembele..Carroll.. Mason, etc..) fail to generate any offense, Chadli stands out for the plays he does make. But blind squirrels finding acorns aren’t enough.
Fifth, can a central midfielder be any more ponderous than Eric Dier? I understand that he may be strengthening the back—but every now and then I would love to see some spurt and spark when the ball turns over. We clunk down the pitch with Dier on the ball. And Ben Davies is no different—Danny Rose’s presence would have been felt all those time Davies had the ball and space in front of him and produces so little in terms of pressure. And while Kyle does have speed, far too often it amounts to no more than a weak cross or a ball out of touch.
We aren’t very good right now. And in two weeks, despite the probable new arrivals, we’re probably still not going to be very good. The fact that Spurs could so quickly cough up the equalizing goal after breaking through in the most unlikely manner speaks volumes. Give me pace… Please.
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