Even with elements of the usual Spurs this victory away at Man City in the league was one of the most unSpursy things to have happened this season.
They used to say that the editor of Match of the Day was the most important man in football. How he cut the match gave people their impression of how the game went and which was the better side.
If you’d watched Match of the Day 2 broadcast of the match you’d be under the impression that the first half was mostly City pressing Spurs’ goal. While the clips they showed were the few times the hosts had the ball during that first 45 minutes.
That half was mostly Spurs having the ball, though not doing much with it, while the referee, Mark Clattenburg, decided to let every cardable foul committed by Citeh go unpunished. It’s almost as if he was trying to make up for those offside goals in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Should Toure have seen half time?
Yes Citeh probably had the better chances, this showed that this isn’t the Spurs defence of old. Now I’ve slagged off the pair that Pochettino put out at fullback, a lot it has to be said and to be honest I’m not going to flip 180 degrees after this half. Yes Rose put his body in the way and Walker made some interceptions, you know actual defending, stuff the other fullbacks don’t get praised to the rafters for. Defending Dwayne Dibbley, Sterling, shouldn’t be that tasking anyway, he is ever so slightly predictable.
Going forward was a different matter. On the right Walker was in full dithering dolt mode. Dear god one moment really summed him up. Under no pressure playing a pass to, I think Kane, he managed to play the ball nowhere near his team mate while kicking it straight into touch. Trippier’s go forward, without the dithering and delivery from crosses was sorely missed. On the other side Rose had the freedom of the park. Acres of space and he kept hitting the first defender with his attempted crosses.
Two thirds of the ball, they had to take advantage while the going was good, before Clattenburg was allowed to influence the match.
The thing is he went and did it… in Spurs favour…
Aguero had just missed a great chance, one you’d rather expect him to puts away, especially against Spurs. And then not long after another attempted Rose cross hits the first defender. This time Dibley doing the chicken dance in the penalty area. And Clattenburg only goes and points to the spot.
Really was earth off it’s axis moment.
Was it a penalty, well most seem to think not. His back was turned so how could he know. Though as I said he did stick his arm out, now why would he do that if not to make a greater area to block off the ball and well they keep going on about intent.
Anyway who cares, the amount of times Spurs have been dicked by officials in big games, this barely scratches the surface of evening things up.
Kane coolly slotted away the spot kick.
Then we did see a return of the unwanted Spurs. Dropping deeper and deeper, while getting incredibly sloppy and gifted away the ball in a state of blind panic. When Dembele is scuffing clearances in panic you know things aren’t going well. Up until then he’d serenely glided through the game, giving Toure a master class in how to win a player of the year award. Oh, they didn’t half bang on about Toure’s free hitting the bar, well Hugo had it covered if it was any lower.
It all had that Spursy inevitability about it. Which culminated fifteen minutes from the end in the equaliser. You can praise Walker all you want but even his most ardent fan knows he’s going to switch off and let someone run past him and fail to stop a dangerous cross coming in.
He did, it did and Iheanacho fired in unopposed.
At this point it looked like going one way, as Citeh had all the ball and the aimless Spurs hoofs up the park just weren’t quite cutting it, to everyone’s surprise.
Then with just under ten minutes to go someone actually put their foot on the ball and instilled some control to Spurs play. Lamela, who should have been on earlier – he’d only been on a minute or so, in a return to Poch’s head scratching substitutions – ran down the middle of the park drawing Citeh defenders all round him before playing in Eriksen with a glorious pass. The Dane on his 24th birthday putting the ball past Hart in the Citeh goal, in an even more cooler manner than Kane’s penalty.
That’s when the coolness stopped as all those in lilywhite went ever so slightly mental in celebration with the travelling support.
This wasn’t meant to happen. Even more so what followed as Citeh piled forward and it was another harum sacrum finale. Culminating just a few seconds after the clock had past the 4 minutes of added time, as Aguero stood up a cross in the box and just as Otamendi was about to nod in the equaliser Hugo got his fingertips to the ball and took it away from the defender. A two point save.
Spurs rode their luck, they saw off the attacks defending like demons, they came from behind against the run of play and they did what had to be done. Very unSpursy. It was three well earned points and with the best part of a third of the season to go that’s all you can say, other talk is far to premature for now…
…though the scenes at the end from Pochettino and the players tells you how big a result it was…
Just love that.