The one to forget
Snapshot blog as time is my enemy until next week.
Pep has never lost four games on the trot and to be honest there wasn't a moment where I thought we'd see them off much like Liverpool and United have managed in recent weeks. Perhaps before kick-off, for a minute or two I had a little bit of confidence based on the fact we hardly ever lose home games and our record at Wembley in the league ain't too shabby. I didn't fancy the narrative about City being damaged beyond comprehension.
Any confidence was gone at 0-2. Spurs stood with guard down consuming jabs before a couple of swift knock-downs. Nothing southpaw about this. Orthodox attacking, direct and painful. The evening was a shambles of collective disassociation to anything resembling the team with an edge that's entertained us with extraordinary vigour this season.
Apart from a patch of possession in the second half there was very little to take from this. Jan can hold his head up high (although he's been panned for failing to play the offside effectively). Ben Davies was decent (should have been red-carded?). The rest ranged from bang average to AWOL. That essential zip, energy, composure was missing. We looked as expansive as an 8-bit game compared to a 4k HDR open world experience.
I'm exaggerating a touch and I'm sure we've played worse and still won but against a team that's on the cusp of winning the league, to be this messy is football suicide. You can't not attempt to match them and Poch knows this. That opening half an hour, there was no desire to dictate the tempo. I'd say City had plenty to do with that, but regardless - go after them. We didn't and with the ball at feet, we appeared limp and uncertain.
There was little fluidity in the final third regardless of that patch in the second half before we imploded down to 1-3. As for that opening half hour where they stormed 2-0, our midfield looked lifeless, as though frozen in carbonite whilst Manchester City made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Had me moaning like a Wookie on Hoth.
What was our strategy? I have not a clue. Anyone care to enlighten me? City were super sharp and also thankfully quite wasteful. Lamela should release the ball quickly sometimes, rather than hold onto it. Sanchez isn't Toby. At this level against the very best sides, a seconds lapse is punishable by goal. Hugo suspect again in defending his goal. The penalty wasn't one in terms of where the foul was committed but if you're going to leave it up to the officials to decide your fate, then you deserve what you get. Hopefully he's (Lloris) getting all of his errs out of his system before next Saturday's semi-final against the less noisy lot from Manchester.
When we scored there was a chance of sorts to get something out of the game but it wasn't believable, not like at Stamford Bridge. For all the talk about the mental fragility of Pep's team there's an argument to be had about being distracted ourselves. Maybe it's next weekend or maybe City were just top drawer - pound for pound - and we were simply nowhere near on it. Even if City weren't at their polished best, they faced a half-cocked Tottenham side that hardly created any noteworthy chances.
I'd rather just move onto the next on (away to Brighton). Amazingly, this is our first league loss of 2018 and the historic anxiety inside us will have us smashing the buttons on our mental calculator and wondering if we can get caught. Because of a single defeat. I prefer the way I feel now than the way we could feel if losing was an accepted regularity. I still feel despondent because I know we are so much better than the bin bag of rubbish we dished up.
Maybe on second viewing I won't be so harsh. We did play better in the second half. This was a proper City performance. That's as positive as I can get.
One thing to finish on; Spurs fans getting into fights with each other? Nothing new this as I'm sure some of you will have experienced a punch up or two during the AVB era. There was a reason to justify it back then (well, just about) but today? I know Wembley ain't home and there's a fragmentation inside the stadium but it doesn't bode well for the new Lane either. The incident involved raising a 'don't price us out' flag. Gonna hazard a guess that if we were winning nothing would have kicked off. Freedom of speech works both ways. Of course, it's also your right to disagree with the opposite viewpoint/perspective being expressed but to silence them altogether is a dangerous precedent to set.
Excuse typos and grammatical stuff - had a drink innit.
Knock yourselves out in the comment section. The DML kool aid seems to be popular down below. The community here recently has been on top form. Discuss, lads and girls, but no fisticuffs please.
See you post-Brighton.