For the second league game in succession, Spurs toiled against well-organised and determined opponents, failing to score or, worse, seldom seriously looking as if they would. The defence did their bit though, so another clean sheet, another point and still unbeaten but there’s an infuriating itch in a spot that you can’t quite reach.
Spurs didn’t get going until the second half. Before then, Bournemouth had at least as much of the game as we did and could have scored after only a couple of minutes when a neat corner move led to Lloris sticking out a leg to flip a close range shot onto the bar and behind. We have much to be thankful for when it comes to Hugo’s knees. He gets something in the way and lately he’s had a knack of watching the ball end up in a safe place. It’s percentage keeping – do everything you can to block it, and we’re grateful the odds are working in our favour recently.
Lamela hit the bar just past the quarter of an hour after Dele’s delicious double nutmeg, but otherwise we looked disjointed, unable to escape the Bournemouth press. Like WBA last week, they deserve great credit for their organisation and commitment, tearing into tackles from first to last and never allowing themselves to be bent out of shape. In the second half they barely got forward and when they did, the final ball let them down badly.
That said, Tottenham did nowhere near enough to make their afternoon uncomfortable. We were busy without much purpose, energetic but lacking in guile and strategy. Spurs never fully committed to getting that goal. We certainly didn’t get round the back or find our players in the box.
Son began up front but we seldom gave him a ball where he could use his pace and skill to drive at the back four and he often lacked support in the box, with Dele doing his best work in less dangerous areas. Our passing from the back was merely average.
We looked much better on the break. Bournemouth offered few opportunities but when they did get forward and lost the ball, we relished he rare space to counter. Twice in the first half we escaped the press to produce two delightful moves, end to end but finishing in might-have-beens.
Spurs were irritable, as if they had not slept well or badly needed a double espresso. Straight after he hit the bar, Lamela was booked after a needless foul, then was lucky not to be given a second yellow before half time when he jumped into a tackle. Seem them given, I believe that’s the phrase I’m groping for. To be sent off would have been harsh but that’s not the point. Why is he putting himself in this position? I know Spurs give away a fair number of free kicks, it’s part of the Pochettino pressing game but he could have been gone by half time. I’m starting to get closer to that itch, but he had our best chances, which is why his manager kept him on.
Vertonghen, Dele and Rose were booked too. Danny lost the ball on the halfway line, a reminder on the long banished bad old days when he regularly got the ball tangled up in his feet, infamously against Arsenal one time. We all get irritable when we’re tired and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the strain of two games a week, flat out and at the top level, is taking its toll.
Spurs were more assertive in the second half and had most of the play. The pressing went into overdrive, the full backs pushed up and Dembele had a few runs from deep to create some space. However, playing deep meant he did not impact on their back four, who stayed rock solid, and anyway he’s easing back from injury. We could have done more to try and move them around, but this is starting to read as if I’m cutting and pasting from last week’s report, so time to move on.
Janssen came on but an error I think to take off Dele and Son, both of whom could have offered him the support he craved. It was Rose who had the best chance from Janssen’s hold-up play, but the shot fell to his right foot so weak.
Wanyama had another good game, time and again he gets his foot in to break up attacks. Just a toe sometimes but his timing is spot on. He’s having a fine season so far.
I enjoyed the intensity of the battle but we could not make the breakthrough. Rest now for most if not all of this lot as Poch picks his team for Saturday first, then Tuesday’s. Sissoko might get ninety minutes, on Saturday he tried his utmost to get about three. Dead lucky the ref missed his elbow in the face, needless when under no pressure. He too was irritable. Double espressos all round.