Performance better, result the same

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Blame the NFL, the FA, Daniel Levy and some crap contractors for the fact that this ended 1-0. On a different night and a different pitch, maybe Kane’s first touch doesn’t betray him, and Lamela makes perfect contact, but Silva probably knocks in the sitter too and it finishes 2-2. Would have been a fair result. We weren’t better than City on this night, but we weren’t really worse. Trippier made one bad mistake and the other defenders were lax getting back and there was the Mahrez goal. Other than the two plays referred to above, the rest of our attack broke down in an array of failed final balls and resolute Pep-directed defending from the best side in the league.

And now, if trophies are the goal, we play a truly important game in 48 hours at London Stadium with Winks, Eriksen, Dele, Son and who knows who else (Skipp? Aurier? Llorente? Gazzaniga?) on the pitch. The fight for fourth place and a Champions League return wasn’t really affected tonight—games against our London rivals will be much more vital.

I can’t fault Poch for setting his lineup as if this was an NFL game—the midfield of Dier, Dembele and Sissoko played well throughout and seemed to stifle the normal City sweeping breaks. Their best chances came from more intricate possession near the goal when somehow our defence was flat-footed and unwilling or unable to regain the ball. I though Davinson Sanchez grew into the game and was quite solid. Trippier after the big error generally played well and was our chief threat going forward. Ben Davies continues to be underwhelming. Eric Dier was fairly invisible but that wasn’t a bad thing. Mousa Dembele had the type of game he would routinely play in 2015-17; Harry Winks was Scott Parker-esque in his limited appearance and brightened the middle of the field.

As for the rest, Lucas had a fairly quiet game—I wonder if Pep made sure he would not burst loose on the left with some specific coverage. Kane was active but squandered his best opportunity bearing down alone on Ederson with a heavy touch. Lamela continues to shine—occasionally losing possession in traffic and failing to link-up with Kane—but he was a genuine force and it might have been an NFL-induced bad bounce that caused his best chance to an open corner fly over the net. And Sissoko despite a couple of typical giveaways played hard and well the entire night—it may something about the current state of Spurs that he was our best player— but he simply gave us an excellent chance to get a point, which is more than one can say about most of the rest. Like Kane he wasted his best run, hesitating rather than challenging Ederson directly and then opening the box for the type of layback goal Mahrez converted at the beginning of the game.

Now these two good performances need to extend through the next three games to advance in the Cup, win yet another away league game at Wolves, and then exact some revenge against Eindhoven to ensure Europa and keep the flickering candle lit for the bigger prize. It appeared as if 15,000 or so supporters stayed away from this bastardized fixture—I can’t blame them but they missed a good effort.

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