Squad players to the rescue

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Hello Victor. Bienvenidos Juan. Cheers Kyle. And a special welcome to Fernando. It was Lucas’ day—and he’s somewhere between first team and the squad designation—but each of the others shone in an expected rollover of lowly Huddersfield.

Poch really had no choice. He had to rest one of Jan and Toby—I can only assume he knows best as to which one needed the additional days off before the second leg v City. He couldn’t play Dele yet—we shall see if the broken hand will allow him to suit up on Wednesday—my guess is yes. With Aurier still out he had to sit down Tripper in favour of Walker-Peters. And Winks has a new knock that we have to hope is not serious enough to cause him to miss one or both of the City games. Thankfully Jan Seiwert played along, deferring his most serious attacking threats until the final 20 minutes, when some sloppy play and the absence of Moussa Sissoko opened us up for a stretch and we were fortunate not to concede a goal.

As for those who did play, Lloris made the one save he had to make to keep the sheet clean. Davinson Sanchez had little to do anchoring the back three, but what he did was solid. Vertonghen and Foyth each pushed forward more and each earned a yellow—I thought our young Argentine had perhaps his most assured game but consider the opposition. Huddersfield pressed both of our wingbacks, preventing until they tired in the second half the type of flanking maneuvers that Walker-Peters or Davies could have used to produce more threats. When the chance did come, both had good moments, particularly Walker-Peters coming in from the right though Davies had a good shout at a goal if he had chosen to head a cross from his opposite partner instead of attempting a volley.

Wanyama and Sissoko were rocks in the middle—Wanyama appears nearly back to his form from two seasons ago—can anyone even remember what it is like to have Eric Dier or Mousa Dembele at holding midfield? One’s in China and I suspect the other in Pochettion’s version of Siberia, though injury seems to be the main culprit for his absence. The three up front did some good things, and misfired occasionally, but for a brief time while Spurs got their feet early or during one second half lull, all were constantly searching for the opening or link-up to produce a goal. The first score was sort of an unintended dummy by Llorente that got to Wanyama who made a neat move around Hamer for a simple goal. The second was the product of a Sissoko run leading to a Lucas run and a quick and decisive shot into the far corner. Poor Llorente could have scored at least three times, barely missing two headers, volleying a precise Eriksen pass off the bar, and reacting a bit too slowly for another chance in the box. But surely the drop-off from Kane in terms of his holding capability will be rather small.

Lucas of course deserves the plaudits—making threatening runs throughout and clinching the win with a nice catch and volley from a nice ball from Eriksen and then repeating the effort from a similar through ball from a streaking Son. Those goals could yet mean something with Spurs now moving well ahead of their Top Four rivals in goal difference.

So now we await perhaps the biggest game in Poch’s five years here. Hardly any commentator or pundit that I am aware of has noted that after the early goal at the Nou Camp by Dembele, Spurs have not conceded a goal in the Champions League in more than 350 minutes of action. One well-timed counter-attack at the Etihad will force City to score three to beat us on Wednesday night. I think the lineup will be a 4-2-3-1, with Winks (if healthy) or Wanyama joining Sissoko and Lucas playing behind Son along with Eriksen and Dele. If the latter cannot play will Poch go to a 3-5-2 or will he play Llorente instead? I suspect the former, but whichever we have a decent chance. The game of the year. I can’t wait.

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