That sound you hear is the season going thud

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Let’s not beat around the bush. In the space of just five days time, we have gone from the fringe of a title race to a very real and very losable fight for Top Four. I am frankly not sure what this team is or where their ambitions lie anymore after tonight—the effort was certainly present but the quality was substandard—on attack throughout and in the back for two crucial mistakes that gifted Chelsea all three points. What exactly are we playing for? The promise of a new stadium—still some mirage off in the distant desert? The chance to get one more step in the Champions League—but now with the knowledge that we are hardly guaranteed a spot there next season? To impress a manager who, while he has probably seen his chances reduced of going north to Manchester might simply decide “I can’t take them any further. This is it.”? And choose this moment to get the exit strategy set? To get a big Wembley crowd fired up to beat our north London rivals when just a week ago we thought we were past all that?

I don’t think this is a garden variety crisis. What I saw tonight was the failure of our entire strike force—all present save Dele—who, presented with countless chances to try to carve up an admittedly staunch Chelsea defence, failed over and over again. Son was at sea for the second game running, unable to maintain possession, bullied off the ball by an obvious aggressive tactic by Mauricio Sarri (which Mauricio is on the hot seat now??), unable to figure out with Kane or Eriksen any combinations. Eriksen has been miserable for weeks now and was again tonight—something is way wrong and one can’t help thinking he’s already moved on psychologically to Spain. Kane is, as was true last year post-injury, something short of 100% and too often forced or choosing to go 1 v 3 with predictable results. Lamela simply provides sh*thousery and not a whole lot else—at least he was responsible for a couple of good challenges that could have resulted in something. But overall I felt that Hazard-Pedro-Higuain were always the more likely trio to create something.

Chelsea had a vicious midfield press and smothering strategy—they knew without Aurier and particularly Rose Spurs could not get down the flanks—and they were daring us to try to go over the top where Luiz or Rudiger or occasionally Caballero would be there to swat the threat away. Spurs simply never figured out how to break them or lacked the skill to do it. I’m not sure Saturday v Arsenal will be a whole lot different, except that the back four are not as accomplished.

As for the defence I hold Davies (a little), Aldeweireld (a lot) and Lloris (in-between) responsible for Pedro’s winner—but let’s be honest, we were never going to get a clean sheet on this night vs this team. The Kepa stuff was either going to turn Chelsea good or bad—it was pretty apparent from the start that they had something to prove tonight. The second goal was a humiliation and, until I hear more from the two parties involved, I am hesitant to ascribe blame. Either Trippier made a stupid play or Lloris failed to communicate his position properly—it can’t really be both.

Anyway the bigger picture is rather depressing. Other than one glorious half v Dortmund, the truth is that since the Everton and Cardiff festive season victories, this team has really not played well— either at nearly full strength like tonight or with several absences. It is not hard to see it all go south—a poor finish and 5thplace in the league; survival v Dortmund (and even that is hardly a given) and then a quick exit to royalty of some sort in the quarterfinals—and the new stadium will seem like very hollow prize. This is a character test—and the first exam is Saturday v the Gooners.

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  1. With zero shots on goal last night and no creative ideas – there’s only one outcome on Saturday I fear. Arsenal 1 point behind at full time.

  2. I just can’t understand why we looked tired against Burnley and Chelsea after 10 days without a game. Son and Eriksen completely off it. Kane doing well and getting little service. Some really good balls were pinged through to the edge of the box, but we couldn’t control them or hold off the chelsea defender. Crossing has been really poor. Everything is so slow and predictable. No pace or invention. Why we needed a midfield signing as the Winks/Sissoko partnership is looking a bit stale too, after being fantastic. Lamela was typical him really, never does well when he starts. OK off the bench. Full backs are a huge issue and Danny Rose is the only decent one we have. Trippier and Davies won’t take their man on, have no pace and if Trippier’s crossing is off, he is as impotent at Davies. Davinson Sanchez had a good game and should have played instead of Foyth on Saturday. Lloris was more at fault for the second goal. Can he have a coaching session with De Gea who saved 5 or 6 with his feet, while Hugo can’t do 1. I saw no anger when we went a goal down or rallying of players. Just a flat acceptance that we are complete shite at the moment. Saturday is huge now, or they are 1 point away from us. Dortmund, is 3 goals enough, the way we are playing. I’m going to that game and concerned with what I might see. Time for Pochettino to show the manager we think he is. I know nothing has been spent, but it is these moments, he earns his coin. Utter shambles.

  3. Pretty much spot on with everything. We should have seen this coming, because it has to be said again, the lack of adding more quality to the squad was going to take its toll as stated at the start of the season.
    The usual mentality comments will continue, but we’ve actually, till the Burnley game, done better than other people thought without any signings. Poch gets a lot out of the players physically and mentally, yes to mention again, with fewer resources than other clubs, as mentioned, the worry is he might say “I’ve done what I can”.
    This season was always going to be a fight for top 4, because of the aforementioned points, the fact that we’ve done so well to be in third comfortably till now, distracts from that.
    Next season is the biggest worry with certain players going, possibly Poch, it could feel like starting all over again.

  4. Very good comments and I am sure most Spurs agree will agree with your comments.
    Three other reasons why we cannot seem to break teams down is speed in attack and hitting the other team on the break, partly because we are usually overrun in midfield and lack a creative player since Eriksen has gone missing and why did we let Dembele go before the end of the season, surely champions league absence would cost more. We are so predictable by passing the ball out of the back slowly every time and expecting a different result, but usually just loosing procession. We used to have a high press and this seems to have gone as well so teams just know how to play us! Please surprise us and the opposition on Saturday!!


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