Away games in this league, particularly in a venue such as Old Trafford, require an aggressive attitude to have any chance of victory. Punch them in the mouth, grab the scruff of the neck, breathe down their throat.
Spurs did none of that in the first twenty five minutes when they controlled possession. One Kane dink over the defense and a near-miss from Eriksen as a result, and that was it. It would be simple and wrong to lay the result at the feet of Nabil Bentaleb, whose fatal error was one of several, undoubtedly leading to his rapid exit after halftime. But Toby Alderweireld had two or three similar egregious giveaways that could have led to goals as well. On the whole the defense played well, perhaps none better than Kyle Walker whose hustle in getting back to challenge a wide-open Wayne Rooney was cruelly rewarded with an own goal.
But where were the attacks down the wing and the crosses to center? They never happened. Where was the invention near or in the box? It never happened—not from Chadli who was in alone in the 83rd minute, not from Kane or Eriksen throughout. Where were the bursts from midfield after possession was regained? They rarely happened. At one point after the 70th minute, Ryan Mason gained control just past midfield and had no fewer than five Lilywhite attackers rushing ahead of him—a golden opportunity to create a chance. Mason paused—one beat, two… and passed ineffectually back to a defender. Opportunity gone. The story of this game. United defended well but then again we could/would not test them. Only in the final six or seven minutes did an attack finally materialize.
United were hardly world-beaters, but Spurs were hardly Top Four contenders. It had better improve vs Stoke.
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