Let down

 

guest blog from @a01chtra

 

I should be clear to begin that Leicester City, despite any evidence to the contrary, did not in fact win this game.

Transport
Motorways and tramlines

This was probably the worst of my many visits to White Hart Lane. The journey for me was tortuously slow but I made it in about 14:30 and waited for a friend with the ticket he was lending me (top man). There was a brilliant steel pan band there to keep everyone in good spirits, and in what turned out to be the best part of the day, they played “Ossie’s Dream (Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley)” and there was a solid sing along. Two barely conscious Leicester fans had a bit of a dance. Enjoyment was had. My friend arrived and waved me toward the throng by the stadium.

The fun stopped as news filtered through the crowd as we plodded through agonisingly slow turnstiles (I missed the first 5 minutes) that our chief (only?) weapons Kane and Eriksen were both out.

The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people
Clinging onto bottles

Spurs started with a hesitancy that may have betrayed that same lack of confidence that blighted the crowd. Certainly the team sheet wasn't one to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition; along with those two prime absentees (on the bench), world class goalkeeper Lloris and undisputed number one centre-back Vertonghen sat it out entirely.

Our first choice central midfield pairing of Bentaleb (in Africa) and Mason (presumably rested to make sure he’s fit to see off Sheffield United four days from now) were also absent from the squad. The pairing of Dembele and Capoue, while solid and experienced, notoriously struggle to provide the quick transitions on which our new style depends on. They showed little on Saturday to indicate that there's something Pochettino can coach and develop. Chadli has been given time to grieve the loss of his father and the fact his absence leaves a hole in the squad is testament to his vast improvement this season. A scant consolation.

Lamela was dug up and dusted off to play as an inside left forward with Townsend on the right. Paulinho sat in the hole behind Soldado. You couldn’t really see where a goal was going to come from, but it was Leicester. Leicester City. This was a game for rotation, undeniably. With Arsenal coming up we need our best at their best. Besides, Paulinho and Soldado had clicked against Burnley and maybe our desperation for them to finally succeed would rub off on them. We had to have faith. Kick off. Come on you Spurs.

And when it comes it's so so disappointing

Chiriches, Kaboul and Fazio were guilty of standing off early on leaving Schlupp with space to exploit. Deputy keeper Vorm was initially solid, pulling off two fantastic early saves. Rose was highly impressive; tough in the tackle, strong with positioning and good getting forward. His work rate would certainly have pleased the head coach and he did his chances of getting the nod against Arsenal no harm.

Spurs created their first useful opportunity through Soldado, who replayed his neat moment against Burnley (a marvellous bit of control and touch to force a hapless defender to gift Spurs a penalty) this time fouled rather than a handball. Townsend once again dispatched from the spot without hesitation. The fans settled. The team settled.

(You know where you are)
Hysterical and useless

Leicester nevertheless continued to fashion and waste presentable openings at regular intervals without ever imposing themselves.

Vorm raced out off his line, offering a cheap penalty in the area, following slack passing from Kaboul. Kramaric was happy to buy it, caught by Vorm’s trailing leg – but the referee overruled the sale, presumably on the grounds that it was just too obvious a foul to be legitimate. We survived. We booed Kramaric, who was mystified by his booking.

Spurs remained wholly unconvincing and in general neither side looked like scoring.

Schlupp’s decent wing-play for Leicester was matched by Lamela for Spurs. He put in a creditable performance and created a gilt-edged chance for Paulinho to shank after some fancy footwork took him to the byline leading to a decent shot saved when he cut in.

Townsend was quiet yet Spurs suffered when he was withdrawn. Eriksen and Paulinho played a costly game of “the left wing is lava” leaving Rose entirely unprotected and with the responsibility for both attack and defence on that flank.

One day I am gonna grow wings
A chemical reaction

It was fitting that Leicester’s goal came from a mis-hit shot from Schlupp, helped on by the anonymous Ulloa. Leicester had a succession of chances but all without quality. If ever they were going to score it would be a crap goal from a corner.

And so it was.

All the footwork from a promising Lamela ultimately without value – two wild swinging legs and the scoreboard advantage was finally nullified.

Shell smashed, juices flowing
Wings twitch legs are going
Don't get sentimental
It always ends up drivel

It seemed like only seconds later when Schlupp finally got the goal his performance had merited, his fluffed shot spinning past Vorm, who can have no excuse for what should have been a routine save. The crowd had already started leaving, making no difference whatsoever to the atmosphere in the stadium. A disappointing showing from the home crowd again that could have done with some of the spark 1882 can offer to keep the noise simmering in our favour.

Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and
Let down and hanging around

Both Kane and Adebayor had come on to no real effect despite both playing fairly well. The lack of width totally blunted the attack and with Lennon apparently sold to no club in particular but definitely not at Spurs any more - we had no answer. Typical? Typical.

You know, you know where you are with
You know where you are with
Floor collapsing, floating
Bouncing back and
One day I am gonna grow wings

I stayed to the end. There was no reprieve. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I gave back my ticket, exchanged a few choice expletives with my friend and left.

Pochettino apparently says the game was always under our control. I think that’s probably true – Leicester had no ideas, no clear game-plan and never posed much threat. Their goals came from us gifting them possession and openings and from us failing to create. No width and yet we somehow expected to claim the victory.

Leicester City didn’t win this match, Spurs lost it. They lost it from a winning position and they lost it convincingly. This game was a question asked of Pochettino and he had no answer. I’ll keep the faith but it’s a real disappointment. It’s the first time watching Pochettino’s Spurs that I have personally felt he has let me down.

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around