Rabu, 7 Mac 2012

16 Conclusions On Spurs 1 Man United 3

* Exactly how did that happen? There could hardly have been any more one-sided games in the Premier League this season, and yet the team who were dominant for the majority of the match lost 3-1. Tottenham were the better side as far as the statistics and the naked eye were concerned, but still contrived to lose. Remarkable, illogical - it's not just that football is cruel, it's that it has so very many ways to be cruel.

* A week is a long time in, etc and so on. Seven days ago Spurs were ten points ahead of Arsenal, 2-0 up on their north London rivals - heading towards a win that would've taken them to within five points of United - and still just about in the title race. Eight conceded goals in a row later, and they've not only blown their slim hopes of doing something really extraordinary, but are now looking over their shoulders. Arsenal, after two exceptional wins, are only four points back and full of confidence. Sure, it would take a hugely unlikely revival from Chelsea, Newcastle and/or Liverpool for them to lose a top four spot, but ensuring third place is underrated.

The side that finishes in third has a summer of certainty - three months of knowing exactly what they will be competing for in the season ahead, a decent idea of what their budget can be and thus know exactly what sort of players they can/should be chasing. The side that finishes fourth have a pain in the arse qualifier to consider in the early weeks of the season, without knowing what their season holds. It must have at least been a contributing factor to the shambles that Arsenal found themselves in during the early weeks of this season.

The good news for Spurs is that they are still favourites to get that third spot. In their next three games they have Everton away, then Stoke at home, then Chelsea away, but after that their run-in consists of eight games they could probably expect to take 20 points from. That would put them roughly around the 75-point mark, which should be ample for third. That's all in theory, of course.

* So, how much can we read into this little dip from Spurs coinciding with the crowning of Harry Redknapp (by the press, at least) as the next England manager? Since Redknapp's acquittal and Fabio Capello's resignation, Spurs have beaten Newcastle 5-0, drawn with Stevenage, lost to Arsenal and mugged by United. Have they lost focus? Is it just a coincidence? Four games is too small a sample size to judge reliably - we shall know more in the weeks to come.

* What must be called into question is Redknapp's role in this defeat. Having started with the same 4-4-2 that was widely acknowledged to be a mistake at Arsenal last weekend, he stuck with it throughout this game, asking Luka Modric to play in a more peripheral left-sided role, where he obviously could not influence the game as he can. In addition, quite aside from the tactical issues, one has to ask some serious questions about either the defensive organisation or mentality of a side that concedes three times from (more or less) the first three times decent attacks their opponents have.

* At least Spurs were treated to a very close-up demonstration in ruthlessness by their opponents. United had six shots, five were on target and three went in. Spurs had 18, six on target and one goal. That's how a side like United wins so many games without looking particularly good.

* A word for an excellent, if understated performance by Wayne Rooney. He spent much of the second half very deep, almost in midfield, pulling the strings that allowed United to control the game after the second goal.

* David de Gea's improvement continues apace. His save from Jake Livermore was incredibly impressive, since it was very hard, very low and took a nasty deflection not far in front of him. We have written on a number of occasions that there is/might well be an excellent goalkeeper there, and he's starting to emerge.

* The one worrying thing for United today is how superior Tottenham were in midfield. Livermore and Sandro dominated, with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick (who has been excellent in recent weeks) outplayed in the opening hour. Of course, after the second it changed, but if/when that happens against a side who are a little more clinical, United will be punished.

* Time and again, teams learn the hard way that, if you dominate a game against Manchester United, you absolutely must, must, must score, because if you don't, then they will score. Tottenham were utterly dominant in the opening 45 minutes, attacking United brilliantly until they reached the penalty area. They had eight shots to United's four, 56% possession, an 84% pass completion rate...you don't get games that one-sided against United very often. Spurs were behind at the break, it was their own fault and it was United's first - or rather, the timing of United's first - that was the killer.

* Not least because of Kyle Walker's incredibly weak marking for Rooney's opener. Gary Neville pointed out that Walker wasn't even looking at the ball as Ashley Young's cross came over, but sillier still was him seemingly not bothering to even challenge Rooney for the header and simply trying to push Rooney over. He actually succeeded with that aim, but not before the ball was in the net. These defensive doubts are why he is not exactly a massive upgrade on Glen Johnson in the England side.

* Indeed, you could point a finger at Walker for all three goals. For the second, his ludicrous attempt to clear the ball with his right foot, when a perfectly decent and better placed boot dangled on the end of the his left leg, resulted in the ball looping up and dropping in Ashley Young's lap like a wet, unwrapped present. And he was one of three or four defenders who could/should have closed Young down before he took leisurely aim and curled the third into the top corner.

* Quite apart from Walker, the defending for United's second was embarrassing. Modric and Benoit Assou-Ekotto literally stopped and started shouting at each other while Nani scampered across the box and played the ball across. The most basic of defensive errors, against the most clinical side in the Premier League.

* There is of course a huge element of 'If my aunty had balls...' about this, but how different would things have been had Gareth Bale been playing? I say this, because during Tottenham's hour of dominance Phil Jones looked like an accident waiting to happen. He is still positionally naive (hardly surprising since he was bought as a centre-back), dives into challenges needlessly and rashly and doesn't do well when someone with pace runs at him. Had Bale been in the side and stuck to the left, it could've been very ugly for Jones and United.

* In terms of positives for Spurs, that they didn't miss Scott Parker says plenty about Livermore's performance. Parker is acknowledged by many as Tottenham's most important player this season, but Livermore performed the same, quietly efficient role in which Parker has excelled.

* Tottenham's disallowed goal was a tricky one. Sure, Emmanuel Adebayor couldn't do a great deal about it, and he didn't appear to deliberately move his hand towards the ball, but the fact remains that he controlled the ball with his arm, and without this control it would've eluded him and he couldn't have scored the goal. Tough, but a fair decision from Martin Atkinson.

* A general point - football is just better in the rain. All three Premier League games on Sunday had a little grease from the skies helping them along, and it was marvellous. Proper sliding tackles, skimming passes, mmm, isn't it? Enduring image.

source: http://www.football365.com/f365-says/7569263/16-Conclusions-On-Spurs-1-Man-United-3

Tiada ulasan:

Catat Ulasan