Never in doubt

Cardiff City 0 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - September 22nd, 2013

was it?

The commentator stated near the end that neither Spurs nor Cardiff deserved to lose. In the real world it would have been a travesty if Spurs hadn’t found that winning goal.

One team has nearly 30 attempts the other doesn’t have a single shot on target. Yeah a really unjust if that latter lot’s flat back 9 didn’t get a point at home.

Another game and just one goal scored, while another game where non conceded. Both not through the lack of trying. In the form of Kyle Naughton playing at left-back, very trying. As soon as Danny Rose went down midweek it had this failed experiment written all over it. Zeki Fryers was on the bench as was Vlad Chiriches – obviously his work permit having come through. Either in the staring XI would have been a better option. Fryers at left-back or Vlad central with Vertonghen out wide.

What little Cardiff did was created by putting Naughton under pressure and knowing he can only use his right foot. It started early. Slack back pass, while Vertonghen wasn’t quite with it either and Campbell is one on one with Lloris. Well you figured it was gonna either be him or Caulker that would score. He didn’t. Dithered, froze and Lloris swept up. Hand inside, outside, on the line. It wasn’t a decision in real time the ref could make without it being a huge guess.

Naughton doesn’t work at left-back. Doesn’t work defensively and offers probably even less attacking wise. There was so much space wide on the left that was left untrodden.

Again, even though they had all those attempts, that was one of Spurs’ main problems. Lack of width. There wasn’t so much untrodden ground on the right but there was far more than there should have been. I don’t know what’s worse seeing a wide man flying with the ball and a ton of space in front of him for him to then stop for no reason. Or to see him flying down the wing and the ball played to him is behind him so he has to stop. It’s such a damn waste either way.

You just have to look at the goal.

So that goal. It’s no surprise that one person is getting overlooked in the aftermath. Paulinho scored it. Lamela played the cross for the assist. But one player who is getting barely a mention today was the real catalyst. Holtby.

Introduced with about 90 seconds of normal time left, he played more decisive, dangerous through balls into the box than had gone in the previous 88 and half minutes. Most of what had gone before was shots from distance and the results of their ‘keeper having one of those days so many ‘keepers have against Spurs.

Holtby came on and he was putting lovely little balls into the path of player’s runs into the box. Paulinho could, should have ended it earlier, just into stoppage time, then 2 minutes 20 after the 90 he finds Lamela wide right of the box with the perfect ball for the new boy to cross it into the danger area and Paulinho to back-heel in the deserved winner.

Of course the Cardiff manager was in full whinge mode about them having a goal chalked off. Correctly chalked off. Pick a foul, any foul. Typically one set of commentators focused on one foul, ignoring the other, while another set viewed it vice-versa. Lloris was held by the player there to get in his road. While the eventual “scorer” was climbing all over Dawson. Neither legit and both so blatant that even Clattenberk got it right.

Now I have to say I was disappointed with Dembele. After the midweek passing accuracy of 98%, he upped it to 100% in the first half but that dropped to 92% by the end. Must do better than that. He and Paulinho are looking a tighter unit. The rest are still gelling. It will come and those chances at some point will be goals not just attempts. One of these days Soldado is gonna murder ’em, flipping murder ’em to paraphrase Bumble. When better than the next league game…

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