Where do we begin with this growing rot of a season? The constant reminder at Wembley Hell that the new ground is not ready—tantalising close like so much of Spurs’ promise has been recently, but still out of reach? The curious and sad absence of our captain and goalkeeper—knowing the substitute will bottle things if given half a chance—spun from the highest point of international glory to a place of shame in one drunken evening? The fact that they press us better than we can press them? Or maybe it’s that Poch got as much out of these players the past three seasons as anyone could have, and the tank is quickly emptying?
Whatever there wasn’t much doubt who bossed who from the opening whistle today. We stayed level only because Mane jumped out a little far in the first minute and Firmino couldn’t quite produce the goal that beckoned in the second. Perfection was necessary to beat the press and keep the ball, and the likes of Dier (who nearly gifted Salah a goal), Dembele and Eriksen, whose poor attempt at a headed back pass created the corner that led to the goal, aren’t and weren’t perfect. Winks was game but lacking the spark and creativity that a fit Dele could have offered. And Virgil Van Dijk compared to last year’s Dejan Lovren is simply no contest—Liverpool were daring us in the first half to try to play over the top, knowing they had the player to clean everything up. Firmino’s clinching goal in the second half was far too easy, with Vorm again bewildered, wondering just what had gone wrong.
And whither Harry Kane? We’re past the point of simply pointing to all the England games and last year’s injury and thinking he’s just not fit… too fatigued. It became obvious fairly early in this game that if anyone as going to break the Reds down it would be Lucas Moura, and not our talisman. Perhaps we were gifted three seasons of the best the man had to give, and now his more ordinary pace and ball handling has been found out by defences who understand how to stop him. Lucas is the only player who seems capable of breaking through the back line but we shouldn’t burden him with all that responsibility. Lamela and Son at least offered some energy and a goal to give us some good feeling.
It is hard to imagine it all turning around soon with the likes of an away game at Inter and home contests with Barcelona and City looming. Frankly the MK Dons cup game against Watford seems daunting. The sad fact is that before a single ball has been kicked at our splendid, spanking new ground, all previous ambition for this season may have fluttered away. Europe League beckoning after group stage elimination. A grim fight for fourth place—if that. The stench may not be confined to our captain’s car.
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