and don’t go full Spursy.
It’s been a while, beginning of the month the last time Spurs took to a pitch to play a game, and the first game back had to be against the free scoring Liverpool.
It came as a bit of a surprise that of the few games that actually survived the weekend fixture list, this was one of them and in the end Spurs weren’t as badly hit by absentees as first thought.
It do though lead to Conte tweaking his formation, from his usual 3-4-3, to the 3-5-2 I’ve been calling for. And it worked, worked well, even with what looked like a disaster waiting to happen in that middle three. Three would be cast offs in Ndombele, Dele and Winks didn’t look promising – as Hojbjerg missed his first league game since arriving at the club.
But without nominal wide forwards, it meant the fullbacks knew they were the ones that had to be the width, which they kept, the midfield wasn’t as overrun as it can be with just two in there and Kane didn’t have to drop deep, so kept high, alongside Son in a far better partnership.
Of course it could have gone off the rails very early on. Inside a minute and Robertson could have opened the scoring, should have. But then there was a lot of could have, should have, most of it from Spurs. Kane could have opened the scoring before he did, just before the quarter hour.
Winks slid in the ball, which was played back then forward to Ndombele, who played one of those balls you know he’s capable of through to Kane. Kane’s right foot shot from the right went in the far post. Ndombele had tried a couple of balls like that in the moments before that were just that bit short of being perfect. Kane’s first home goal in teh league, only his second in total.
From there chances were missed on a regular basis. Son from a Kane cross, which should have been better but Son should have done better. Then Dele, who should have scored but the keeper made a finger tip save. The latter started with Son nodding onto Kane in his own half, before the pair were off. The cross was lifted, when it should probably have been rolled to make it easier for Son. The latter came when Kane’s run distracted the defence so that Son could play it through to the onrushing, all alone Dele. Would have been a cracker.
Should have been at least 4 by now. Could also have been 10. Down to 10 men. Kane going through Robertson with a wild challenge. That should probably have been red.
With those missed chances you just knew what was to follow. Yup, it’s Spurs, so here comes the equaliser. And so it was. Jota free to leap and head it home, all four foot eight of him. Why did Wolves let him go?
The second half continued with the missed chances. A lovely ball over the top from Dier to Dele but his first time cross to Kane wasn’t the best, too weak, and it allowed the keeper to make the save. Then from a Son corner the ball came quickly to Kane and he couldn’t guide it at the back post, heading over.
Then the ref showed his ineptness again. At one end Dele is pushed in the box, a foul much like in the first half the challenge on Jota by Emerson was a foul. Both should have been a penalty. Did Tierney not give the second because he knew he had the first wrong? But then that doesn’t add with what he did later. He could also have given a free-kick or a penalty for a challenge on Winks that was right on the edge.
But of course from that penalty incident Liverpool went straight up the pitch and took the lead. With a little help from Salah’s arm. Of course VAR didn’t chalk that one off. Didn’t want to upset Kloppo any more.
It felt like that away game at Liverpool almost exactly a year ago, under Jose. Then Bergwijn had the chances to get the win but fluffed his lines and Liverpool got that 90th minute winner for 2-1.
Difference here was the 20 minutes to go and then just five minutes later Winks played an actual ball forward, got lucky because the keeper completely missed an easy chance at a clearance and Son knocked in the equaliser.
Just time for Robertson to boot Emerson up in the air for no reason and the Scouse to go into their usual meltdown with the red card. Again the ref blew it on the field but for once VAR got it right.
Hell of a game. With all those missed chances it really did look like they would Spursy it again. But the formation helped, keeping Kane and Son on the defence and playing balls for them to chase onto or through to them helped. As did none of that fannying about at the back, was there any split central defenders at a goal kick? And playing the ball forward.
My god, didn’t some cream themselves over Winks actually playing the ball forward. Oh, what a great performance, we were told. A domineering performance. Well, no. When Liverpool had the greater possession he made one tackle out of the two attempted, while he lost possession on a number of occasions. And we know he’ll drop back into his cowards passing and giving away stupid free-kicks in and around the box.
Spurs need to stick to that midfield three and in the DM middle role, he comes third in line behind Hojbjerg and Skipp. The other two that were in there also used this to show they still have something to give. You don’t know if it’ll save them but Dele played his part well. That box to box role and ghosting into the box to get on the end of balls, like he used to. We know Ndombele can play the passes and as part of a three he can be covered. You need the work rate Dele showed. You need the guile of Ndombele, with Hojbjerg’s graft, perfect middle.
The other player who didn’t do himself any harm was Sessegnon. After his stupid red card in Europe you figured that might be the end of him but with Reguilon not fit to start the youngster took his opportunity well. As said it helped him knowing that with no three up front he was the width and he got up and stayed wide.
At the start you’d take a point. After all those missed chances, you know you should have won… but you’d take a point.
And with Spurs now kicked out of the Europa conference League for not playing the final group game, there’s midweeks free to make up their league backlog at least, three games in hand on the top 4…