Spurs stopped the slide of big defeats in the league, with their first win since the last international break as they finally score more than one goal, in defeating Aston Villa.
Pochettino said it was Harry Kane’s last minute winner against Villa, back in 2014, that saved his job. It was the 10th league game into his regime, this was Nuno’s 7th, both teams were 11th in the league with three wins though Poch had a couple of draws, including one in his first NLD.
Poch found his hero in Kane, whose only other goal so far in that league season had been an own goal for Sunderland. Kane still hasn’t found the net for Nuno in the league but has Nuno found his formation, finally?
I said he should go back to his back three days, well he ain’t gonna do that, even when it would match up to a back three, as here with Villa. But is this the end of the 4-3-3 with a move to 4-2-3-1? It looks like the best formation – yes, I’ve changed my mind – to go with, with the players he has but I’m not sure he used the right players in this game.
He does have Sonny.
Well, it wasn’t the greatest but it was a step forward, the way they tried to play and coming back from giving up the equaliser, where you feel in the last few weeks they would have crumbled. While the defence looked more solid, with just one blip, that led to a quite day for Hugo up against a couple of decent strikers.
Spurs striker nearly got his season really going, early on when Ndombele was rugby tackled, just inside the Villa half and Kane took the free-kick quickly, almost catching the visiting keeper out. But he wasn’t seen much more.
Last season Kane was a goal and assist machine, this year the crown has been taken by another. Son was involved in the build up with the eventual, unlikely, scorer. From a clearance, Moura was fighting with Mings as the latter knocked the ball down, where it was won by a combination of Son and Hojbjerg. The Dane took it on before passing to Son, who was going out right. He brought it back in and found Hojbjerg all alone on the edge of the D, where he placed an excellent shot past Villa’s quality keeper.
Unlikely scorer? Well, I keep hearing that you can’t judge Winks by goals and assists, that’s not his game, not his position. Yet, here is Hojbjerg a defensive midfielder who now has the same number of goals and assists – 4 and 5 – in just over a third the amount of games. No it’s not their game but one of them manages, while the other passes backwards.
Spurs the next half an hour or so wasting decent chances, while looking reasonably steady at the back. The pairing or Romero and Dier, which you feel is the first pick pairing, looking good, especially with that extra protection of Skipp and Hojbjerg in front of them. Skipp again was the victim of some useless officiating. A yellow card for a good tackle, while Villa players got away with assault.
But while that defence looked good, I didn’t feel the attack was linking up so well. The commentators kept saying Ndombele was having a great game but he wasn’t. He wasn’t helped by Moura, the other one I felt didn’t fit right, coming inside too much. What with Kane dropping in there, it got a bit crowded and it didn’t help with the width Spurs needed to keep. Ndombele did go out wide a number of times but that isn’t where he’s at his best. Step overs on the touchline in your own half wasn’t gonna win this.
Felt Lo Celso should have been brought on earlier than he was, at the break ideally, while it didn’t happen until after all the scoring was done. While Gil should have replaced Moura earlier than the last minute of normal time.
And the longer the attack muffed chances and didn’t link you knew that Spurs could cough up that equaliser at any time. Which started with an error from the back. Romero came in low and late, taking himself out of the game, while leaving Emerson facing two players, he couldn’t cover both and as the ball came out to their wingback, he crossed for Watkins to tap an easy one in as Dier was caught covering for Romero.
As said in the last few leagues this would have caused heads to drop and well, it’s been three conceded in the last three but it took less than five minutes for the lead to be retaken. And while there’s Sonny, there’s hope.
Dier played it wide to Reguilon, who played the perfect ball up the line to Son, who was off. Heading to the byline he crossed across the six yard box to Moura, who was beaten before he could tap it in by the Villa defender, for an own goal.
From there Spurs again spurned good chances. Lo Celso and Kane should have finished the game off. Again a chance that Kane would have scored in previous seasons, or indeed this season’s European games.
Yes, positives, three points and a better display against a team who are probably better than a couple that put three past Nuno’s team and well, after a struggle they seem to be above a couple of teams that have apparently been flying in the league. Maybe a settled side, though is it settled with the right players? But then just as it starts to go well, along comes another international break to mess things up… at least Nuno won’t be winning any manager of the month awards…