and thank Qatar.
If the little middle east state hadn’t beaten South Korea in the Asia Cup quarter final, allowing Son Heung-min home early where would Spurs season be now after he scored the winner against Newcastle?
Two games back and Son has contributed two goals, two important goals, one an equaliser the other a winner, in two victories in games that weren’t going Spurs’ way.
While folks were happy to see the happy, smiling, Son fit to start his third game since his return, they weren’t too sure about the rest of Pochettino’s starting lineup. Llorente who assisted Son’s equaliser in the last game before scoring his own winner was on the bench while Vertonghen was filling in at left back.
Two choices that look right on paper to some extent. Since Jan 20th, Llorent has played all but just under half an hour of Spurs four games, to go with his getting on and not being used to playing much at all these days, you can see why Poch would rest him.
The other day I said Poch should have changed his team and moved Vertonghen to left-back, I can see why he did it here. The Footballing Genius that is Rafa Bentitez (© Liverpool loving media clowns) game plan would be his usual stick of flat back ten it, hang on and hope for something. With that you don’t really need the pace of Rose on the wing. Vertonghen is probably a more accurate crosser of the ball than Rose, added to which he’s about a foot and a half taller. Poch figuring Newcastle would play for set pieces and having another big guy in there to defend ’em would be a help.
The thing is having decent crosses works better if you’ve got someone on the end of ’em. Though Llorente has fluffed a few decent chances of late and did so when he came on, when the sun got in his eyes.
Moura was playing up front, he had the best chance from Lamela’s cross. Llorente could have missed it as well but at that moment you wanted the big Spaniard in there.
If you watch the highlights of the game you’d be hard pressed to know Son was playing, especially in the first half. When in reality he seemed to be on the ball all of the time. Again, he knew he was the main man, it was all on his shoulder and he was relishing it. The next good chance came from Lamela himself, from Vertonghen’s dangerous cross, the Argentinian headed the ball onto the bar.
Unusually for Spurs they didn’t go in at break a goal down, after having all the ball. The irony of it being Groundhog Day as well. Newcastle could have taken the lead in the second with Rondon hitting the post with a header… so much for having big guys in there. Hugo also had to make a flying save, later.
Llorente eventually came on, had the howler but again it required a change of formation to get the goals. It seems to be the way in recent games from back three, to four, from four to three. Rose on, Vertonghen back and Son moved from wide to partner Llorente in a strike pair.
Then with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, one of those Toby balls to the edge of the box, chested down by Llorente and Son pounces, one touch onto his right and bang, through the keeper.
In their desperation to prove Llorente handled the ball in laying it off, Sky proved that the striker was being fouled in the area – he was pushed – and so it should have been a penalty.
Another game without Harry Kane and The Harry Kane team has another win, something like 13 wins out of 17 games without Harry. And The Fat Spanish Waiter’s tactical masterclass of hanging on and try and nick sommat gets what it deserves.