Spurs just waving not drowning
for the moment anyway
The JimmyG2 Column.
.I spent most of yesterday following the Test on the 'wireless' and it ended conveniently enough with a sensational win to preserve our Ashes hopes in time to for the Spurs game. Thanks Ben.
So I began to watch the game against Newcastle game in a high state of elation and optimistic anticipation. Here surely was our first home banker to celebrate Mauricio's 500th. game and a chance to go above Arsenal into third.
I observed Newcastle's ten man defence and our ponderously slow, deliberate and painful approach work with growing apprehension. Would this one go the way of several others in recent history. In less than half an hour my deepest fears were realised.
Sanchez allowed Joelinton to run off him and he was found by a fine ball by Atsu which he controlled well and beat Hugo for his first Newcastle goal. Danny Rose was slow to realise the danger and we were 1-0 down..
No need to panic just yet we did the same against Aston Villa and won and against City and drew.
To cut a sad story short, little changed until Eriksen injected a little positivity with half an hour to go. But even he and Lo Celso could do little to alter the tedious mindset we were in and nothing else troubled the scorers.
Eriksen played aball inside the full back for Sissoko who pulled it back to HK but he couldn't control the shot and the moment passed. Lo Celso sent Harry awy inside the box but he was obstructed by a flying Rugby tackle. Nothing was given.
Kane should have had a penalty but so should Newcastle earlier. Mike Dean was content to let VAR take the blame but as in the other game the on-field decision stands unless controvertible evidence emerges to the contrary.
Moura missed a 'sitter' late on which would secured the draw but I'm not sure if we deserved it. No I am sure, we didn't. I would gladly have accepted even the loss of the Ashes for a Spurs victory here.
The full backs both got down the flanks but without real intent and few effective crosses were forthcoming. We had 80% possession and 2 shots on target.Although we had more shots (15/5) They had 20% and 3 shots on target.
So no knee jerk from me but all is not completely well at Tottenham. Mauricio said we lacked passion and aggression. But what we actually lack is creativity, movement and the skill to break down blanket defences; more speed of passing and positivity of approach too.
That's all down to you and your game plan Mr.Manager. We haven't played well for some time but technology and the failure of others have earned us the rewards of a top four place and a Champions' League final.
His observation that the team lacked unity and desire is perhaps more worrying. Again that falls into your in-tray Mauricio and needs dealing with urgently not allowed to fester. 'Unsettled' is the current buzzword but thee are no concrete reasons offered.
Injuries and tiredness were last season's excuses but they don't apply now although KWP's injury may require some re-jigging in the absence of Aurier who may be leaving and Son though willing is not up to match form yet.
The Newcastle game highlights our failings and this early set-back may allow team and Manager/Coach to reset the GPS. We need to keep and play Eriksen and the return of Dele Alli hopefully for the NLD should help.
The midfield of Winks and Sissoko is not progressive enough as both look to recycle the ball neatly and tidily but without the forward speedy progress necessary to apply pressure when required. Lamela buzzed but failed to sting.
Moussa may be reverting to his pre- reincarnation position and looked better at fullback. New signings Ndombele and Lo Celso are either injured of not up to speed. Dier too is still strangely absent.
Sometimes you have to go back to go forward and Dier's recall could be a stabilizing influence on a team losing it's way at the moment. The return of Vertonghen out of favour for whatever reason would add to our defensive stability.
Mauricio faces some hard choices this week on formation; team selection and playing style ahead of an obviously crucial fixture but at least he has a full clear week to respond to this wake-up call.
Injuries and complex player situations won't help and for Arsenal it could be good time to face us. Win it and of course everything changes but papering over the obvious cracks won't suffice in the long term.
To summarize the Newcastle game: no press, no imagination, no movement, no energy, no goals, no points. Few excuses.
Some of this is down to Mauricio and some to individual errors but it would be harsh to criticize individuals when team effort and organization were more at fault.
Jimmy's Video Spot.
Full highlights. Sorry couldn't find anything decent and shorter. Not sure whether Mike Dean is biased or just incompetent. VAR didn't come to our aid on this one.