weren’t getting a day off.
With the Burnley game only being on Monday, Jose was going to make a number of changes for the Europa League visit to Belgium, he didn’t seem to think they worked as Spurs were lucky to lose 1-0 to Royal Antwerp.
A week ago in their opening Europa League group game Spurs managed to get through a whole game without Harry Kane being required to save the day. Even though he wasn’t brought in during the mass half-time changes, you knew he’d have to feature this time.
Jose says he was giving the fringe players a chance to grab the opportunity, though it did seem odd him playing Hugo and not Hart. Nobody grabbed it. Not for the first time mass changes didn’t make for a team that gelled, and not for the first time Spurs struggled against a team that defended as not for the first time Spurs repeatedly tried to go through the middle of the massed ranks.
It was a similar performance as against Burnley, a nothing performance, there though they got lucky in crating the one chance that led to the one goal while against Antwerp they got lucky with only losing one nil as the hosts missed a couple of glaring chances that should have seen a more embarrassing scoreline.
It’s not as if Spurs had time to figure out it wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought, they had enough time to figure out what they were doing wasn’t working after Antwerp took the lead on the half hour. Took the lead with the usual self implosion from Spurs. Starting with a Winks sideways ball, Reguilon passed back to Davies who dawdled, when challenged he fell over trying to win a foul, it was now two on one, one pass and Sanchez was lost and it was one nil.
Once up they could defend even more and they did, that doesn’t mean they didn’t attack and the central pairing of Sanchez and Davies with Winks in front of them gave Antwerp all the encouragement they needed. Sanchez made one outstanding block but you felt he needed hart there shouting orders at him instead of Hugo. Reguilon being mistaken for Winks was Winks’ only contribution on the night… oh, I tell a lie, he tried some forward passes and one shot. They all showed why he sticks to the cowardly sideways balls.
So came the break and those four substitutions. It really didn’t make that much of a difference. The problem being Jose left one of the problems on the pitch and introduced like for like problems.
Yes Hojbjerg and Son were needed, Moura and Lamela probably not right then. Jose had done nothing when it wasn’t working at the break against Burnley here it looked like a massive overstatement.
Son came on for Bergwijn, who hadn’t grasped his chance. Too many times he was coming inside, while Bale was also doing the same on the right it just cut down on any space for anyone to play in. While on numerous occasions the fullbacks didn’t fill the space out wide that the pair had vacated. The opportunity was there, acres of space, to get crosses in but no it was all too many touches trying to dribble through red brick walls.
Hojbjerg should have replaced Winks but instead came on for Lo Celso. Nope, no idea why. Many fans were slagging Gio off but he had to do all the midfield work, what with Winks being there. Anything going forward and in defence as well, Lo Celso making more than twice the number of tackles in 45 minutes that Winks made in 90.
Dele wasn’t having a good game, not playing and being dragged off at half-time isn’t helping him, like most of them he was taking too many touches, he was also trying to many flicks to other players, when in fact he could have gone himself. With all that crowding of Spurs and Antwerp players in a space narrower than the 18 yard box he had no space to work. The same could be said of Vinicius. If anyone had got wide and put crosses in, he might have benefited but this was just playing into Antwerp’s hands.
Bringing on Moura and Lamela for the pair was the wrong move as they played it exactly the same. Run into the red brick wall in the middle. The introduction of Kane just before the hour, for Bale who didn’t fly on the night, didn’t bring any relief as he was reduced to taking shots from outside the box which generally were blocked within a yard of him taking them.
While at the other end they missed some sitters which wouldn’t have been undeserved. Jose praised the opposition, while stating he would liked to have changed 11 at half-time. Well, it was good he did something, unlike at Burnley, but it was a real knee jerk reaction.
He’s now saying that you know the starters from now on. Well if Gio, Reguilon and Bale aren’t going to be among the starters… well he quickly relegated Winks to the EL, hopefully he’ll be quick to relegate him to playing with Danny Rose…