Spurs 4 (Kane 25, Davies 51, Bentacur 81,83)
Leeds U 3 (Summerville 10, Rodrigo 43,76)
12th November 2022, Premier League.
“Oh Leeds United, I’m so excited, I chose you as my football team…” but hellfire you are one annoying son of a bitch sometimes.
Having pulled ourselves from the edge of the abyss with two consecutive wins, including a fine battling performance at Liverpool, we travelled to Spurs in no doubt confident mood. Sure, it was London and things don’t often go well for us down there, but Spurs’ form was erratic and, though most of us expected a narrow defeat, we all secretly hoped for maybe a point that would cap an excellent recovery of the season.
Having watched the game though, I now feel nothing but anger and annoyance at the way we squandered a fabulous opportunity, created by our own endeavours, to come away with all three points and really lay down a marker to show we were finally getting our whole act together.
The one aspect of our two wins recently that has been blindingly obvious is that our defensive frailty at times always threatened to outweigh the attacking prowess that we’d discovered with the arrival of Crysencio Summerville in the side and the sharpness of Rodrigo in front of goal. Those two wins showcased our technical ability in the front two-thirds of the pitch and our vulnerability in the defensive third and once again we saw both aspects in glorious technicolour today.
I’m not going to go through every goal here – you can watch the videos yourselves if you weren’t at the game – suffice to say our attacking play was superb and we scored three terrific goals, goals crafted beautifully and finished in style, two from Rodrigo and one from Crysencio. Once again we also had the lead early in the game and we ought to have protected it better.
The key to our losing the game though was in that flaky defence. There are aspects of all four Spurs goals that, putting it bluntly, are unacceptable from a Premier League defence and if we don’t soon do something to change this state of affairs we could still find ourselves in a relegation battle this season despite our attacking prowess.
The first goal came from a corner – yet another set-piece goal conceded. OK, some will argue that Meslier was impeded and maybe VAR should have saved our blushes but that doesn’t cover up the fact that Meslier made a poor punch, albeit under pressure, and, once again, a man at the back post was sharper and more alert than we were.
The second Spurs equaliser was a calamity of errors; poor concentration at a Spurs throw allowing Kulusevski to waltz in behind us, a missed tackle by Liam Cooper to allow him to set up the first shot from Kane that was blocked and then, well, I have no idea what Kristensen and Meslier were doing to allow the follow-up shot to beat them both. Embarrassing!
The third goal was another case of not clearing the danger but the wicked deflection off Luke Ayling has to go down as more of that dire and cruel London luck we have often seen before so I’ll let us off further blame for that one.
The final goal saw us once again miss a crucial tackle in our own box as Robin Koch this time was easily beaten and hence a simple tap-in was then created. The problem is, Premier League, attacking players are so sharp that you just cannot afford to offer up chances as they will invariably be taken – our own attacking players are now showing that sharpness while our defenders are operating way below par.
Poor, poor, poor is the only description for our defence and it has been so for most of the season. Quite what the solution is I don’t know but we must do something and it must be improved significantly by the time we get back into action at Christmas.
Tottenham Leeds U
Possession 55% 45%
Shots 14 12
On Target 8 5
Corners 9 2
Fouls 8 7