Well, we’ve got that opposing striker comes off the bench and misses penalty play down pat, don’t we? Let’s be honest here. A linesman, Higo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen basically saved our season today, for I don’t even want to consider what might have transpired if we had dropped all three points (look at Arsenal’s remaining schedule. Only United at the Emirates of the Top Six while we must journey to Anfield and the Emirates) But for one brilliant sequence where Bernd Leno proved equal to two seemingly sure goals once again the attack was tepid—very little combined play from our forwards, Kane and Son settling for or being forced into 1 v 3 situations, with the expected nowt as a result. Eriksen largely absent again. It speaks volumes that Moussa Sissoko was Spurs’ best player—dominating the midfield, getting back on defence (he made a game saving tackle late in the second half), reversing the ball upfield. He doesn’t finish—but since no one else does either you have to appreciate his virtues.
As for the two big points of drama, Kane was offside and it shouldn’t have been a penalty. Sanchez’ infraction was soft (and was created by Vertonghen being caught upfield with Rose having been shifted by Poch into a central midfield position) but probably fair. Hugo guessed right and then Super Jan redeemed himself with a terrific save of a sure goal on the rebound by Aubameyang. (And snuck too close to goal before the shot, so it should have been retaken) These things happen. Sanchez had an unfortunate game as it was his error that allowed Lacazette to spring Ramsey loose for the opener inches from being over the line and offside. Rose was a hot mess with numerous giveaways, several of which could easily have led to an Arsenal winner.
I don’t know what to say about our attack, or lack thereof. The problems seem to run deep. Opponents are getting very physical with the three forwards—Eriksen and Son are bullied off the ball repeatedly and Kane far too often finds himself surrounded by three or more opponents with few options to get out of the trap. Link-up seems to have fallen out of our vocabulary—but for the beautiful Kane chip to Eriksen that produced Leno’s brilliant rapid fire saves on the Dane and then Sissoko on the rebound Spurs seemed bereft of ideas. Dele can’t come back soon enough.
I worry about Dortmund, to be honest. They lost to Augsburg so they’re hardly in top form, but I believe our side is a) tired and b) dispirited. A quick home goal will place huge pressure on Spurs in front of a raucous throng. Let’s hope that today’s escape will give the players a lifeline. The defensive mistakes must be curbed, but they are hardly surprising. The failure to produce good chances and to break down opposing defences is more startling and a far bigger worry. Perhaps Winks will be fit enough to control the midfield—one cannot expect Sissoko to keep playing at this pace forever. But Kane and Eriksen must simply come up big—an early goal and we can breathe easy and hope that Dele’s return and a game on the South Coast will right the ship. These are trying times, and we only passed the test today by the skin of our teeth.
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