For the second round running Spurs trudged away from a lower league team’s ground facing a replay after another indifferent showing, this time away at Rochdale.
Some see the cup games as an excellent way to get games into the legs of those players that have either been out with injury or have just sat on the bench for most of the season so far. Unfortunately these players haven’t been good enough to finish off those games, even against lowly Rochdale.
When you have to bring the big guns on to get anything out of such a game, as everyone was saying before, during and after, why not start with ’em?
When asking how a team that beat Man U and ARSEnal, while getting that draw in Turin can struggle against Rochdale, there’s one thing no one was pointing out, not who was missing but who was present. Sissoko. Another 90 minutes from him and another disjointed performance from the team. In 2018 he’s been ever present in the poor performances by Spurs and either completely missing or a very minor player in the good performances.
No one returning from injury or without game time is helped by having Sissoko alongside them.
One returning had a bit of a nightmare. Much talk about Pochettino leaving Toby out of the trip to Turin, well on this showing that does look to have been the best choice. Slipping and sliding on Rochdale’s newly laid pitch, well that can be understood to an extent but overall this wasn’t the Toby of old, as highlighted by him picking up a yellow card.
Alongside him Foyth looked nervy and the pair switched sides at the break. On the left the joke is going round about Danny Rose needing to Google Danny Rose. An awful display by the fullback who didn’t beat the first defender with any attempted cross, he’s not getting ahead of Davies anytime soon. Winks was rusty and Wanyama wanted to many touches, most did, Son and Llorente. The latter seemed to want more touches for others as he kept laying the ball off when he didn’t need to know and even though he came close he never actually looked like he was going to score.
The only player to come out of the starting lineup with any real credit was the new boy Lucas Moura. Well, this is what we wanted and we’ve got it. A player who can run at opponents, run by opponents, with the ball completely under control. Pace, guile and an end product. Finally one of these French purchases looks to have paid off.
Well, all the plaudits go to Rochdale but Spurs didn’t half help ’em along the way. From the very start the playing out from the back with the split centre-backs barely on the pitch at the byline, passing out to Wanyama just in front of the box invited pressure which came and which paid off for the hosts. They repeatedly harried Spurs off the ball, highlighted brilliantly by Winks coughing up possession for the opening goal.
When Henderson put it away it really should have been his hat-trick. It was a brilliant move, of excellent flowing, one touch, forward football by Rochdale. Unlike Spurs’ dithering, sideways attempt.
The equaliser was the former, amazingly even though the move was involved Sissoko with an assist.
The eventual introduction of substitutes and a change in formation saw Spurs come into things after that. Dale obviously tired, they’d done a lot of work pressing throughout the game. Harry and Dele would make a difference to any game. The latter won the penalty, the former put it away. Didn’t know if Harry would score this one, it was all set up for a piece of that newly laid turf to come lose and for Kane to slip and sky the spot kick somewhere down the M62.
Those screaming about Dele diving are beyond belief. Yes, he goes down easily, he dives at other times, Spurs fans haven’t whitewashed the fact, this just wasn’t one of those time. The Rochdale manager’s comments about it are particularly childish. No one begrudged them the result they got but after that you’ve had your day in the sun, fella, you’ve acted the Northern geezer, now I hope you take a tanking in the replay. Rochdale, the poor man’s Burnley.
A replay, well when Spurs finally took the lead two minutes before the end of the 90 no one saw a replay on the cards. When four minutes of time was added nobody saw a replay coming. When their big lump of a journeyman striker, controlled the ball and put away the equaliser with a minute of that added time left, nobody was really expecting a replay.
It just wouldn’t be Spurs without games like those over the last few weeks…