Spurs latest Premier League no show saw them scrape and underserved draw with newly promoted Sheffield United thanks to some more VAR shenanigans.
This time last season, after 12 games, Spurs hadn’t drawn a game, they’d won 9 and lost three, with a plus 10 goal difference they were fourth in the table, with 27 points. This season they’ve scored two fewer goals, conceded seven more for a
+1 GD and lie 14th with 14 points from just three wins, to go with one more loss than last season but with 5 draws.
After Saturday’s rain drench draw with Sheffield they were lucky to get that fifth draw, in a game they ended up having more of the ball, more attempts and more attempts on target but were second best for most of the game. Gifted a goal and saved by VAR.
Every time you thinks Spurs are back on track a game like this comes along straight after. Midweek they won away against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League, a team that had only lost 2 of it’s 21 previous European home games, a run which included beating Liverpool lasts season. Spurs put four past them, with ease. Pochettino put out a well balanced team, with just one want away player, while two of the summer signing started. Lo Celso making his full debut.
It was a performance that made you think if Poch sticks with this type of starting XI things could turn around. When he picked nearly the same starting XI, only the fullbacks were changed, for the weekend league fixture at home to Sheffield United, you thought, yes this is the way.
Then they started to play and it was like… oh, last week’s Spurs are back.
Sloppy doesn’t quite cut it. Dier was on the left of the central pairing – his second straight outing in defence, has Poch told him that’s going to be his position and the midfield role if filled so well just a couple of years ago is for others – no it’s admirable that being on the passed the ball with his left and didn’t have to shift his body to always play with his stronger right. Unfortunately he just giving the ball away with his left foot passes. Match of the Day highlighted the swarming and pressing that United did during the game but numerous times they didn’t really have to, Spurs just gave them the ball.
Tony Gale was commentating. Tony Gale has headed a lot of footballs… in the second division. He was in full flow that the midfield trio of Sissoko, Lo Celso and Ndombele weren’t getting the ball forward quick enough. Apparently, according to Tony, there was a solution. Harry Winks. Yes this great footballing mind thought Winks passing the ball sideways would get it moving forward quicker. Gale got his wish as Ndombele seemed to have tweaked his groin during the first half and so was replaced by Winks at half time. Gale was overjoyed, a black foreigner going off to be replaced by a white English player.
The ball didn’t get forward any quicker.
Son got his third goal of the week just before the hour. Some nice interplay between Dele, Son, Lo Celso and Harry – some triangles and movement – saw Dele play a delayed ball through to Harry in the box, it went past Kane and was played by the United defender straight into the feet of Son, who took a touch then played it past the keeper. Well, if you can’t be good, be lucky.
The only problem with luck is disappears. It did hang around for a few minutes. Sheffield pretty much went up the other end and equalised but for VAR which for 3 minutes 47 seconds got its slide-rule out and figured someone, somewhere was ever so slightly offside in the build up to the goal. Toenails and armpits t looked like they were measuring.
Now Spurs were, again on the good end of a VAR decision but it was wrong. Like in cricket VAR is supposed to stop howlers. Real clear and obvious errors. Now by the letter of the law he may have been offside but if you need 3:47 minutes to figure it out it’s not clear and obvious. And you find yourself agreeing with Jug Ears Linker. VAR gets 30 seconds or a minute and if it can’t see anything in that time, then that’s it. But also the offside rule, they have to change it back to there being a clear gap between attacker and defender. If the whole of the ball has to cross the whole of the line for a goal, then why not the whole of the player for offside?
Twenty minutes after Son’s goal, Spurs luck ran out as VAR didn’t rule out Sheffield’s “second” goal.
The player that looked to have scored, looked to be offside but he didn’t get a touch from the cross. If anyone did it was Dier, which would have capped off his day. The crosser of the ball was though attributed with the goal. It was no more than Sheffield deserved, they’ve a fantastic away record in their return to the top flight, unbeaten so far and they were really lucky not to leave with three points. Yes as I said earlier, Spurs had more shots on and off target but United hit the woodwork and were whiskers away with a couple of attempts. It could have been a bit of a stuffing.
Lo Celso looked very comfortable on the ball, as in midweek. Excellent passing and can make a tackle. Son has got over last weekend’s incident, enough. Harry was lumbering, bar the build up to the goal he was slow and absent. Not making the runs you know he can and used to.
Pochettino shifted the formation in that second half, brining Foyth on to match United up with three at the back. The youngster again looked comfortable as he had at fullback midweek. But again Poch left it very late to bring Moura on but as time was running out and the ball needed to be played into the box, Winks was pirouetting and playing it sideways.
For the most part Spurs meandered through this game, almost as if the league and Sheffield were beneath them, to be bothered putting in the effort that they now seem to be saving for the Champions League.
No doubt the players will head off on international duty and come back knackered. Harry will play for England and be tired. Ndombele’s injury will be exacerbated by France, etc, etc…