Spurs Learning To Live With The Tension

Consensus round me? Hoped for something more but the draw will do. The game opened full of expectation, by the end both sides were intent on boring each other and the crowd into submission, the consequence of several factors. The unfeasibly early kick-off saps the enthusiasm. You look forward to these derbies, as always the authorities find a way of puncturing the balloon. As my son remarked, nothing says ‘modern football’ like the announcer greeting the teams with, ‘Good morning to the world famous home of the Spurs.’

CFC paid us the compliment of starting without Costa but two false nines don’t add up to one Harry Kane. Not even close, but there was barely room to breathe let alone play much football. Spurs were tired after Europe – you’ve no doubt seen the stat that showed we ran respectively 6k and 4k less compared with our last two matches.

No lack of tension however. As time passed you were thinking the same as me, come on, you know you were. Spurs on top, late Blues breakaway… Not this time. This lot are made of sterner stuff and we’ve scored our share of late goals too.

They set up in a flexible 4–3–3 to limit our space, the pace and creativity in their forwards more than compensating for the lack of a genuine centre forward. Spurs’ defence led by the admirable Alderweireld was able to handle it without too many scares. Hazard had their two best chances, heading just over in the first half then a lightening volley was kept out by Lloris low down to his left. It was over in a flash – the shot was unexpected and fizzingly fast – so I had to wait for the MOTD replay to show what a superb save it was.

For our part, Mason slotted in wide right. It meant he had an average game out of position but he was there to counter the threat down their left. We therefore had to work especially hard to make any opportunities. Despite the lack of room, we were able to consistently play a straight ball into feet towards the edge of their box but too often a combination of the absence of space plus tiredness from Europe the previous Thursday led to uncharacteristic long balls.

Kane nearly bundled one in at the near post before many had cleared the turnstile queues then his quick shot was straight at the keeper. Dembele charged bullishly onwards, his low shot turned round by Begovic. A shame he could not have done this more but Moussa is the man who makes a difference. It’s hard to see a midfielder making more of an impact in the PL right now. He faded in the second half after taking a knock and so did our performance. As well as the runs where like Desperate Dan the defenders bounce off him, his ability to hold onto the ball without losing it gives team-mates precious moments to get into position.

Best chance fell to Son. Kane nipped to the byline but Son’s unchallenged far-post header went directly at the keeper. He should have done more with that and throughout tried just a bit too hard on the ball. Better to throttle back and be patient.

I’ll say again that Alderweireld at £10m is the buy of the season. Pace plus anticipation is a real talent to have. He’s a yard ahead of most opponents and covers diligently, easing across effortlessly if a gap appears. That gives the other so much confidence. Vertongen continues to bloom although he went blank for 10 mistake filled minutes in the second half. Walker was excellent, using his speed to full effect.

Otherwise, missed passes without any catastrophes. Kane is a gem, becoming more polished by the game. Intelligent, scheming, available. He dropped back towards the end to allow Njie to buzz around up front like a dying wasp but nothing could break the deadlock.

If this match was a benchmark of how far Spurs have come, we rated pretty strong. More important however is the feeling that win, lose or draw, next week we will just pick up where we left off and take the game to West Brom. Our progress has solid foundations. The rhythm, movement and effort isn’t contingent on the previous weekend’s result. League success can be achieved on the basis of good results against the teams below us and between now and New Year we have a sequence of winnable matches on which our season could depend. We have the talent, application and momentum so let’s make the most of it. I’m not talking about winning the league for goodness sake, just rack up a few maximum points in the next five or six games. Pressure-generated anxiety can come later – remember to enjoy it while you can.

In the last 20 minutes the players were sucked into the quagmire of stalemate. For different reasons both teams were content to hang on to what they had. CFC had to save face by not losing to upstart rivals – the point is neither here nor there, they will push up the table again especially when Santa Roman brings them a little something in the winter window. Last minute, in front of us Ivanovic put the ball in touch then follows it up, whacking it high into the crowd for good measure. We should take it as a compliment. It’s some time since Mourinho set up his side because he was worried about us.

The ref didn’t help, seemingly intent on re-writing the laws of the game so physical contact is no longer permissible. I seldom comment on referees but he really irritated, especially as I’ve seen him have some excellent games in the past.

For Spurs, the weariness in their legs had spread to their minds. Just play out time, although Walker looks fit enough to play another 90 minutes and more. Lamela and Njie have no excuses – they gave away late free-kicks for no good reason and could easily have chucked the game away. The rest were done for by the Ropey League. In Poch we are learning to trust and the win over Quarabag sees us through but it was a mistake to play a full-strength side. Spurs are admirably fit but the pressing game takes a lot of energy and effort.

At the end my son and I were too agitated to queue for the train and walked off the tension back to Seven Sisters. I guess this was a taste of what it’s like to carry expectations and the players felt it too. It made for a drum-taut game that was frankly dull for long periods but we kept our shape and our concentration. That is another marker on the journey onwards and upwards, something else the side can reflect on this week with satisfaction, the ability to hang in there when inspiration has dried up.

 

11 thoughts on “Spurs Learning To Live With The Tension

  1. After the game,Alan,I actually thought the result was ok. But as they day wore on I questioned myself as I felt I really wasn’t happy with that result but not unhappy with it either.
    The opportunity was the state of the Chelsea players minds.This wasn’t the real Chelsea surely.They looked like Charlie Sheen might look on a Monday morning after a binge on crack. They looked like hell.
    They were there for the taking but really could we really expect a win?
    Dembele again showed that he was our leader,again with that Yaya presence,I would agree that Alderweiered was solid and commanding at the back,but Son’s timing was off on a day when Alli wasnt available and Eriksen looked somewhat in a daze when we could have at least pushed it in the first half an hour and created something. Lloris was great too with a coupke of amazing saves as the Chavs got some confidence back.Dier was not his spectacular self but worked hard.
    Still there is a run now of games we shoukd do well in,but I cant help thinking tgat maybe Poch’s harping on the long trip maybe worked mire against us. I do believe in mind and faith over matter…we coukd have done better. Still its a testament to Poch and the boys that we are legitimately thinking now we are contenders and the draw was not good enough despite it being Chelsea.
    I can tell you that in the sixties I would have felt the same.Thats a very good sign.

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  2. Great read as usual Alan.
    In the end I don’t think we did enough to warrant a win and just glad we got the well deserved point .
    My only gripe is the baskets out sung us, after we were in fine form in the beginning of the game.
    Onwards and upwards to the mighty Spurs 🙌

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  3. Thanks Alan,
    Another game without defeat. We would have loved to win that one but I thought we were a bit flat after the busy week.
    Our defence is good and I agree that Toby is the buy of the year.
    At present I think Dembele is our best player and a great asset.
    Keep the dream alive Spurs fans. Super optimist me still thinks we can win the league.
    COYS

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  4. Alan,
    Definitely appreciate your thoughts as usual. I agree that we started with aggression and unfortunately could not nick an early goal, that could have kicked that game on. The second half was withering on the vine, you could see the car running out of gas, and the subs did not provide much in the way of spark. The tenor of that Chelsea team is god awful, BTW, when one of their players is down with with a nick, there is literally zero interest/team unity, they were there to be taken again. Unlike our team which seems to enjoy playing together, and has that exuberance of youth.
    The win at Qarabag obviously took it’s toll but frankly that was a very good win, that is a solid side and nobody has gone there and gotten a result, so in that vane it was a job well done. We are just not good enough in Europe to win without playing the first team 11.
    The next few weeks represent an opportunity for us to create some pressure on the top four, looking at the schedule we need to avoid let downs at some of the lesser sides.
    COYS
    Cheers,
    Ed

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  5. Hi Alan

    I think we need to take it as a compliment that C***ski set their team out to stop us winning rather than try to win it themselves. When was the last time any of us can remember them doing that ?
    If nothing else, it shows we have the respect of Mour-moaniho
    Up the Spurs

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  6. While it’s a shame we couldn’t have added to their misery I had a bad feeling about this game and am happy enough, or relieved enough perhaps, with a draw.
    I’ve yet to read or hear of one non BT Sport employee suggest a Sunday noon kick off is a good idea, let alone playing a game within 60 hours of the previous one, with the “rest” period including a lengthy through the night flight. Crazy stuff.
    To me the players deserve immense credit for their performance given the build up. I agree with the points you raise but would like to add a concern I noticed. No players are perfect and mistakes are made, especially facing players like Hazard & Willian who are truly excellent, but the amount of preventable fouls we concede in dangerous areas worries me. This was a trait I thought had been eradicated from the much improved Walker and Rose (among others, they aren’t the only ones by any means) who once upon a time seemed to concede a daft free kick every game, so I hope it isn’t creeping back in to the team and Sunday last proves the exception rather than the rule.
    That minor gripe aside, top marks to them all, manager and backroom staff included; And the fans of course, whose matchday routines must have been pretty much ruined.

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  7. Remember when Redknapp, Jol, et al use to harp on about the team needing to develop a ‘winning mentality’ in order to take the next step in the top four? It seems that we have it now – or maybe more of a drawing mentality, as it turns out. I’ve also noticed how your reports are starting to transition away from celebrating individual moments of brilliance from Harry, Bale, VdV, and others before them towards appreciating a more evenly efficient effort by everyone. In the past we’d come away from games purring about sudden inspiration that turned a game. Now, slowly but surely, three points are secured by pressing and profiting from mistakes by the opposition and Harry punishing the culprits. I’m not complaining because the old script would have us scrapping gamely but missing out on the prize of points. Today it’s different, mostly – hugely – for the better, but it seems a long while since Ginola or Bale tricked their way up the touchline and smacked it past the ‘keeper from 20+ yards. Now it’s press, press, press and work for a yard of space in the front of the goal hoping that when the space does appear, Harry’s on the ball.

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    • What the pressing does,David, is it condences space while creating it with rushed passes from the opposition.I never subscribed to this kind of football as I always held up our creative game from the sixties as the way footie should be. I wasnt even a huge fan of Alf Ramsey’s 1966 England style as it veered away from the Tottenham way of doing things (I was happy England won the World Cup mind you)
      Today Id like to see more from Eriksen in the creative sense but Im seeing so much coming from the press in general that Ive been open to that being at least one of tge jeys to success.

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  8. Spurs fans; let’s collectively tell Teddy S to go fxxk himself about his comments regarding Harry going to a bigger club like Man U.
    We will beat Manure home this year and continue to improve over the next couple of years to be bigger than them!!!
    COYS

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