Only the events on this side of the pond in the past 24 hours can explain what just happened at the Etihad. A defiant leader clenched his fists… there was some dodgy rules… and then out of nowhere the good guys (in this case girls) responded in the millions to remind everybody they may be down, but not out.
Let’s start at the very beginning.. Bollix that. Let’s start at the end. Unlike Liverpool and United, Spurs didn’t drop points to a crap team at home and a mediocre side away that we crushed earlier this season. We’re still second—though probably not should the Gooners win as expected. Our toughest away game is now done and dusted—other than Anfield those contests ought to be relatively smooth sailing the rest of the schedule. But our defence is, at least briefly, in tatters. Wimmer failed miserably as a replacement for one Belgian; now we’ll see just how serious the other center-back Belgian’s ailment is. Hugo went walkabout twice, though to be fair, it was because of him it wasn’t 2-0 City at half and in both instances some good fortune (Sane not getting called for a handball and De Bruyne having the ball bounce right off him and into the net) was required to make the howler howl. We survived…
As for the chief talking point, of course it should have been a penalty and a red card on Kyle, but how about some praise for Walker a) saving the game with a play he got away with and b) launching a gorgeous ball to Dele that got us off the proverbial mat and back into this game. Without both of those plays it’s 3-0 at least and we’re creeping back toward AVB territory with a capitulation defeat vs City.
Let’s get the bad and the ugly out of the way first. Pep got the better of Poch, didn’t he? The five in attack caused problems for our three from the get-go… Wimmer had two awful giveaways and thus his day was over by half, but Dier, Walker and Alderweireld were also guilty of profligate play. What City’s pressing didn’t do Guardiola’s decision to go long ball/Route One did—it may be our Achilles Heel as City in essence took Wanyama and Dembele out of play by simply passing over their heads. And our center backs—whether in the 3-4-2-1 or the 4-2-3-1 Poch was forced to shift to—seemed unable to deal with the threat. De Bruyne and Sterling were active and insistent throughout—we didn’t have answers. It was a long ball that Hugo misjudged and caused the first goal. On the second he simply screwed up and De Bruyne was right there to exploit the error. Whatever Alderweireld’s health, Poch has serious decisions to make about shape and selection for the defence in the month ahead.
But the attack was wanting too. Eriksen reverted to October/November Eriksen—poor passes, bullied off the ball. Kane had difficulty with Otamendi and Co. Wanyama and Dembele just seemed a tad off in their decision-making. Poch thankfully went to Son to begin the second half and he added some pace and threat which was necessary given that Rose in particular had to drift back with the chaos behind him on the left. Yet when the opportunities finally beckoned they converted both times and stole a point. Dele simply has winner/killer written all over him—any game with him on the pitch where Spurs are even or a goal behind could flip at any point. This one did. And Eriksen and Kane combined for a wonderful—dare I say it?—Gooner like combination for the equaliser.
In a different year with a different manager, of course Jesus would save the day for a deserving City and win them all three points. The vagaries of Hugo’s Howlers and Mariner’s shipwreck would be simply footnotes to the tired meme of Spurs being Spursy and City thrusting itself directly into contention again. It’s not that year. Millions of women rose up to defy history in America today—our lads rose up to defy their own.
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