Tottenham Hotspur 3 (Kane 29 pen, Son 43, Alderweireld 50)
Leeds United 0
Pretty easy to analyse this game – it really only confirms what has been apparent for many weeks as evidenced by the majority, almost all, of our results. We have more than enough quality to mix it in mid-table and can beat most of the teams in this division, especially if we get the odd lucky break or rub of the green. Against the mega rich boys though, we will find, on average, they make fewer mistakes than we do, they play fewer loose passes, get better crosses into our area than we do into theirs, take more chances and often more difficult chances than we do and have more experience and nous in defending set pieces. Simples! It’s all about that little extra quality their players have and that additional experience of playing at this level.
Leeds were actually the better side in this game for almost half an hour, dominated play, made more chances, but, as so often we couldn’t turn that into digits on the scoreboard. It’s not something to criticise our players over, they are doing their best, in most cases our players are playing at the top of their game but several are not as good as you need to really make inroads at the top of the Premier League. We also have young players – none more so than 20 year old Illan Meslier.
It is annoying I must confess to see him make that loose pass in almost every game and it was obvious that sooner or later it would result in a goal as it did today but we have to remember he is only a youngster. By goalkeeping standards he’s a baby! His shot stopping is as good as you’ll see in the Premier League so I guess we just have to accept that his inexperience will, now and again, cost us. Having got their goal, I think Spurs relaxed and we started to see what they are capable of and in the likes of Son they have a player who shows exactly what money can buy – his finish was the sort of finish we could have done with maybe for a few of our chances. That is not to say we can’t finish – blimey we saw that we can against West Brom, no, it’s just that the likes of Son will put away those more difficult chances and they’ll do it more regularly than we will.
The third goal was the inevitable set piece but again, you have to accept that Spurs have quality players that can regularly put quality corners on a sixpence and we have defenders, especially our makeshift current defence, that perhaps isn’t up there with the best the Premier League demands.
This was a free hit as we all know, we hoped for the best but we know, nine times out of ten the current Spurs side should beat the current Leeds side, and they did. The stats show there wasn’t much in it but that little bit of star dust they have sprinkled around their squad was the difference.
That doesn’t mean of course that we might perhaps have better combinations of players we could try, even this season, and I’m not convinced we ought not to be trying something different with Rodrigo. He’s a £23m player and yet we are not getting that worth from him; he is not a Pablo Hernandez and yet we are playing him as if he is; we saw again what we are missing not having Pablo from the start when he did eventually come on, but only Marcelo and Pablo himself know if his legs are up to it. For me, I’d get him back in at the start, especially against the better teams, he makes such a difference. Longer term this squad is crying out for a Pablo type replacement; someone who is always there, finding space, demanding the ball, involved in every move and capable of opening up experienced defences.
Other than that there wasn’t much wrong. We’ve played better sure, but I’m convinced that with more experience, a few more expensive additions, and a bit of luck, we’ll eventually be able to compete at the very top. For now, all eyes will be fixed on the visits of Southampton and Brighton to Elland Road; they are our true current rivals oh, and a bit of light relief against Crawley too. Please don’t sacrifice this one this season Marcelo!
Tottenham H Leeds United
Possession 36% 64%
Shots 20 18
On Target 7 5
Corners 3 5
Fouls Committed 15 13