One step


One ex Barcelona based manager taught another ex Barcelona based managera lesson in pressing as Spurs beat the previously unbeaten Man Citeh in Guardiola’s first real test in the Premier League.

Around this time last year a league leading Man Citeh rocked into White Hart Lane, they left on the wrong end of a 4-1 thumping to a rampant home side. The hosts were no less rampant but at least Guardiola made the score more presentable.

It’s funny how the narrative shifts in football. Beginning of the season when Citeh were beating all in front of them Guardiola had his team and had turned them round. Now one chastening defeat, after a worse draw midweek, and it’s “not his team”.

Kolarov being the prime example. No one was slating the player before this game. I even read in a report of this game about his “reluctance to get forward”. He’s scored how many goals and got how many assists but all of a sudden he’s scared of a bit of overlapping.

Oh, he wasn’t scared of going forward, he just didn’t get the chance. Because as Guardiola said of Spurs, not like I’ve redone in the title, they were one step in front.

It was too much for Sky to bear, such a convincing Spurs victory, they couldn’t wait to get off this game and onto their Wenger Wankathon. I mean what does this game matter between the two top teams in the league when you’ve got, what was at the time, 6th versus 14th.

I’m thinking if Citeh had put on a bit of a masterclass they wouldn’t have been quite so eager to dash off.

Apparently Pochettino learned how to deal with Citeh, via a pressing game, by watching their midweek humiliation at Celtic. Brendan Rogders being the architect of Poch’s success. The Irishman having invented the game just a few days before.

Pochettino was quoted after the game: Marcelo Bielsa, never heard of him, it was Brendan what won it…

Right from the off Spurs were in their face and it hardly let up through the 90 minutes. It was less than 10 minutes before they opened the scoring. Kolarov’s kiss for Aguero bringing neither of them any luck. The Serbian was nutmegged almost straight from the kick-off by Son and then 9 minutes in bumbled the ball into the back of his own net.

Spurs could have been behind by that point as Hugo’s pass out to Vertonghen played the defender into a bit of trouble. The loss of possession resulted in Rose, yet again, failing to stop a cross and the ball flashing across the face of goal.

The fullback is better going forward and after Wanyama won back the ball, Lamela played the left-back, his looping cross looped over the head of the striker Son and into Kolarov’s path.

Son starting up front was a bit of a shock on the starting team sheet. It doesn’t say much for Janssen’s prospects at the minute. Kane out and he can’t even make it off the bench.

This was the Spurs we’d been waiting for. They’d not been anywhere near top gear this season, yeah the win against Stoke was good but hell everyone is stuffing them – apart that is from Jose’s ManUre, hahahaha – they hadn’t shown this intensity so far. What was matching previous games was not making the superiority count.

Everyone was thinking it, that second was desperately required, Citeh, Aguero, they always score.

Eriksen went close with a free-kick, Aguero went closer. Hugo had to make the save, one which the commentators just dismissed, where if it had been De Gea they would have gone off on a wanking frenzy over it.

It was after half an hour before the second came. Breaking up Citeh’s play in the middle, Lamela there, the ball bounced off Kolarov, again, to Lamela on to Son who charged forward with Alli and Lamela. Playing through to the former, he tried to find the latter but lost the ball, the ball made it’s way to Son who played a glorious ball through to Alli who finished off a great move in a fitting manner.

That intensity that seems to drop off after the break in a number of Spurs games, didn’t this time around. Though Citeh were more in the game, so with that everyone is thinking, we need that third.

The chance came just after the hour. A charge forward from the not so cluelessly inept Walker – well he’s half way to being as useful as a broken clock – after a one two with Sissoko that he made come off, to Alli, to Sissoko back to Walker, Alli’s charging forward into the area and brought down.

Spurs, a penalty, in a big game, world off axis moment.

Lamela and Son then proceed to argue over who is to take it. My thoughts, you have a penalty taker, it’s agreed before hand, early in the season, it would be Kane but with him missing it goes to the next fella in the queue and at the beginning of this season I doubt that would be Son. Yes he;s currently on scoring form but Lamela the more likely.

But from what Poch said after it sounds like there’s not set penalty taker, he’s happy for them to fight over it and whoever wants to take it and wins the fight gets to take it. Strange.

Lamela proceeds to have his spot kick saved. Which didn’t help, except the Lamela haters. And now going the mind of your average Spurs fan. It’s going to be 2-3.

This second half was taking an age.

But everything that was asked of Hug, he saved. Spurs dropped back and there was a few ‘ave it balls from those in white. While still putting them under some pressure.

One area that Pochettino could have done better in is the substitutions. Previously his changes have been head scratchers, waiting so log here was. It was screaming out for the pace of N’Koudou on the wing against the old blokes at fullback. Also maybe Janssen to hold up the ball, when it was coming back at Spurs quicker than before.

In the end they both came on with little or no time to go but it didn’t make any difference. The final whistle went and Spurs moved within a point of the top of the table, the last unbeaten team in the league.

With an almost impossible task to name the man-of-the-match, can you give it to the lot of ’em. Hell even the fullbacks didn’t suck that bad. The eventual winner, Wanyama, showed why he was bought with by far his best game so far at the club.

Maybe its good that the media didn’t hang around to dissect why their beloved Pep lost so even though they’ve beaten Citeh and are second Spurs can still fly under the radar…

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