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Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Cardiff City - Premier League - October 6th, 2018

Sissoko’d.

Spurs are down to the bare bones but thankfully were only facing this year’s newly promoted relegation fodder Cardiff, so surely could survive even Sissoko playing.

A tweet appeared shortly after the final whistle, as Spurs had scraped past the ten men of Neil Warnock’s 1980s throwback Cardiff, which stated that the three points means that Spurs had equalled their best points tally after 8 games of a Premier League season.

This was a bit shocking, because after 8 games you wouldn’t have said Spurs have shown any form, any constancy, any class, much flair or defending ability. They certainly haven’t hit their stride yet. Pochettino has chopped and changed players and formation, and has changed tack with the way they’ve used certain players, which hasn’t really helped the team play like a team. Injuries of late certainly haven’t helped but it’s not just that

This game was so unremittingly awful. Pochettino’s hand’s were tied a bit by the number of injuries that has hit the club recently. Vertonghen, Dembele, Dele and Eriksen, would be in the starting XI of most and are all a big loss. Added to this you have Warnock and his medieval ways… and then there’s Sissoko.

When all you have for the centre of the park is Dier, Wanyama, Winks and Sissoko most would prefer the first three start. It highlighted how bad the game was by the amount of tweets stating that Frenchman hand’t been really awful. He hadn’t been any good but it is a very low bar when talking about how better he was than usual.

With a team that just comes to defend and an early goal you don’t know what’ll happen and Spurs scored early. eight minutes on the clock when from a scramble corner, after Sanchez’s header, Dier slammed in the only goal of the game. You’d think then that Spurs should get more – they should have, they had chances which were all fluffed – because the opposition have to do something then which creates more space but while Cardiff actually created chances and could quite easily come away with something. Clogging up the defence is seemingly their only course of action and so that’s what Spurs faced.

But yes there was those chances. A hump up the park and from a nod on, Rose was skinned and easily eased off the ball by Murphy, his ball in was cleared off the line by Alderweireld after Hugo dithered and then came, chastened by his midweek travels around the penalty area no doubt. Rose has a particularly woeful first half, his passing was around the 50% and he should have had a penalty, if he hadn’t overplayed it with a dying swan act.

Later on Hugo had a save to make from a header from a free-kick, which he just palmed onto the post for Toby to clear yet again. Son ballooning over the bar just on half-time – how many shots do you see from professional players go high over the bar these days – Spurs had their chances to put this away, a cracking header from Kane with a follow up attempt by Moura which was cleared off the line. Moura shooting just wide of the post.

That play probably summed up Spurs problems. Kane was coming in late into the box and for most of this match and the season so far, he’s dropped deep in the number 10 role as Moura has charged on ahead of him. Now yes you want to get the best out of Moura’s pace, along with that of Lamela and Son, but you don’t negate your best player for it. Kane needs to be in and around the area not closer to the centre-circle.

Kane has scored all those goals since the arrival of Pochettino as a number 9, yes he’s dropped deep and wide and scored from all over but he’s been the focal point of the attack. Now the number 10 role would be working if others were scoring from his build up play but they aren’t. What wasn’t broken didn’t need fixed.

Moura’s pace did bring the big talking point of the game and a chance for Warnock to blame everyone else for the possibility he, yet again, won’t see out a Premier League season with a club he’s just brought up.

Ralls challenge on Moura pretty much summed Warnock up. The Brazilian had skinned the Cardiff man and was off to the races, Ralls had only one option to stop him, though in that option he had numerous options on how to achieve this. In true Warnock fashion though he had only one thought in his head… knacker him.

Warnock bemoaned afterwards that his dislike for players trying to get others sent off, this accusation he was laying at Kane. He never mentioned that he doesn’t like players deliberately going out to “do” another player because that was what Ralls did. The moment Moura was passed him, Ralls only had eyes for him. As Dier pointed out later there are numerous ways to play the professional foul. The knee high lunge in is the scummiest of the lot. Ralls knows it, Warnock knows it, the latter will never admit that though, which is one reason why he is so universally reviled in the game.

Both teams were now playing with 10 men. When Lamela came on with just under 20 minutes to go he gave more life to the team than what had gone before.

Cardiff sit plumb bottom, like Newcastle two points from eight games – exactly a decade on from Juande Ramos leaving Spurs in that position – the Welsh and Warnock will be no loss if/when relegated/sacked… neither would Newcastle and the Fat Spanish Waiter.

This game could be summed up in one word… Sissoko’d…

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