After their ten game unbeaten start to the season for the third straight league game Spurs have lost after going ahead in the game, again in a game they should have easily won, but decided that Spursy was the best option.
It has to be said most people before the game probably had Spurs down for that third straight loss, what with the lack of squad depth and what Ange has at his disposal, what with injuries and suspensions. Luckily Udogie was available after his suspension then talk of an injury. But I don’t think minds changed when they saw Udogie was one of four fullbacks in Ange’s back four to face high flying Villa.
Emerson Royal and Ben Davies as your centre-backs. Well, there’s a kick in the face for Dier. Doesn’t matter how bad he’s been of late, no one deserves to be replaced by Royal.
That was one big change from the previous game, the other big change from Ange’s starting XI was creativity. Against Wolves it was lacking but with Bissouma and Sarr now joining Maddison in the unavailable column Ange chose not to go all Conte with SkippBjerg but went South American. Bentancur and Lo Ceslo making up his central midfield pair. While Johnson was on the right, Gil on the left and Kulusevski taking the Maddison role behind Son.
And boy did it work… to a point. The midfield and wide guys were purring. It’s funny, how Lo Ceslo and Gil look so much better in a team where the manager wants them to look forward. The Argentinian looking like the player Spurs bought, the player who would have had a World Cup winners medal if not for injury. The player who should have played in the last game. While what a change it made to have two wingers who weren’t inverted but actually playing on the wing of their strongest foot.
It was looking looking very sex up to that point. And that point was finishing the great play off with a goal. It started early, a lovely bit of build up play ended up with Kulusevski hitting the post, which led to the new narrative for Spurs. Being on the end of shitty decisions by the officials. Ever since that Liverpool game, they’ve got nothing. As the ball bounced around in the area from Porro’s follow up, and the Villa player handled it Gil got a deliberate elbow in the face. It’s a pen, it’s a straight red but no, according to the ref, lino and VAR it’s nothing. It wasn’t the last.
There’d been more chances as Spurs were so dominant that Udogie and Davies were camped out in the Villa box. They did manage to find the net, legitimately just after the 20 minute mark, when Lo Celso’s banger from Porro’s corner, took a bit of a deflection past his international team mate.
Of course this being Spurs, they coughed up the lead immediately, Davies and Royal just leaving Watkins all alone in the penalty area to head in a cross. Thankfully he was just offside, just. After an age to find out. It wouldn’t be the last wait to find if a goal stood, nor the last offside goal. Spurs were in full Defoe mode. Three times Sonny had the ball in the net only for it to be chalked off three times.
A bit of a turning point came just five minutes after the goal. Bentancur starting his first game under Ange, his first game for months, was on the end of a shocking challenge by Cash. Nowhere near the ball, no chance of getting the ball. The Uruguayan looked in distress from the off, he eventually got to his feet but minutes later had to be replaced. Thankfully it’s not the knee he suffered the ACL injury but still he’ll be another big miss. Was looking so good in that opening 27 minutes.
As I said, Spurs were purring. Bentancur was at the heart of a lot of it. He was replaced by Hojbjerg. Cash was only shown a yellow card. He followed it up with another challenge not long after that should have seen him walk but of course the ref bottled it. Spurs player, you know he would have gone. How many more decision before they get justice for the whinging scouse?
Hojbjerg was immediately involved in some more beautiful attacking build up which ended up with Son finishing off his first offside goal brilliantly.
Right on half time the equaliser, everyone was expecting came. Yes, Spurs were going to regret spurning all those missed chances. Of course it was Villa’s first attempt on target. At the break Cash was subbed, I don’t know know what Villa were scared of, he would have just been on the end of numerous final warnings.
Spurs had two thirds of the ball in the first half, it fell to about 60% in the second, while both teams had far more shots with Spurs continuing to spurn excellent chances.
An hour in and Watkins scored the winner. Yet again equally spaced between Davies and Emerson, neither of whom had the slightest clue he was there, even with Emerson facing him. Well, done to all those involved who thought buying Micky van de Ven and a kid in the summer would suffice for centre-backs. Honestly though, i know Ange has his way of playing and loves a forward fullback but if you’re gonna lose you might as well stick a couple of kids in there who are actual centre-backs. Other teams seem to manage putting their u21s in the first team, why not Spurs? They are after all top of the current Premier League Under 21 table.
during the second half we also heard the return of “he got the ball” from the commentators who seemed to have misplaced that phrase when Spurs players were being punished. Yet when Kulusevski was being fouled in the box, here it was said in all its glory. Funny that.
Ange got it wrong for the Wolves game with his forward players, in a game they should have won. Here he got it wrong with that defence, in a game they should have won, won quite easily, before half time. Honestly they could have, should have won the Chelsea game, even down to 9. Three tough losses from winning positions and Citeh away next. Play properly going forward, Citeh are there for the taking I mean Cheatski put four on ’em but if he goes with that centre-back pairing, expect disaster…