There’s an old Spurs proverb (that I just made up and will likely piss some of you off) that goes, “a team without Tim Sherwood is a team better off”. So despite their status as “The literal worst team in the league” there was something ominous about Villa this week. Maybe it was the new manager incoming, maybe it was the fact that Harry Kane actually had a hat trick last weekend, but this particular “writer” was a bit apprehensive about this match.
Before I could even look at the team sheet we were up 1-0. Some weird voodoo ball by Rose bounced right over the Villa rightback and Dembele of all players muscled the ball on to his foot, past the defender, and into the net within the first 3 minutes. What the ******?! Either way, from here on out we pretty much decided, “well that’s the match lets chillax”, which is a verbatim quote from Pochettino, by the way. The rest of the first half was essentially an exercise in ‘How Slow Can We Pass The Ball?’. We really rode the 1-0 lead for about half an hour. Instead of chasing the vulnerable Villa backline, we decided that there was no reason to even bother trying to pass to our fresh-off-a-hattrick striker and instead just made Dembele-esque passes back to Hugo and our centerbacks. I think the most completed pass, and I’ll have to consult The Spurs Stat Man on this one, was between our back 5. Thankfully we maintained a bit of sharpness and the few dangerous balls played in by Villa were quickly put out by our backline. Dier was particularly impressive, utilizing his acclaimed sense of positioning to really cut out any chances Villa could have had.
Our attacking 5 of Kane, Eriksen, Lamela, Dembele, and Alli all sort of conglomerated in the middle of the pitch for large spells, and while the overlapping was nice to watch it did not provide much attacking force. Our best chances largely came from deadball situations, notably when Eriksen played a pass in from a corner to Danny Rose who hit it just over. Unfortunately for Villa, Westwood came down with a head injury of sorts and had to be replaced by Ayew….no, the other Ayew. Seemingly the half would teeter out with a fizzle rather than a bang until BANG!! Dele Alli strikes again! Rose finds space to cross, which is challenged by Kane and poorly cleared by the Villa backline and it falls right to the virtuoso, Dele Alli, who slots it into the bottom left corner with accuracy and purpose. 2-0 up in to the half, and it was probably the most boring half of football we’ve played all season. Our biggest issue was exemplified by the fact that Kane barely got a touch on the ball for the first 45, as our team decided to maintain possession with care, rather than push for more goals. To Villa’s credit, the looked fit and composed and refused to let the early goal get the down, resulting in a more concentrated effort from their team – aka the Post-Sherwood Effect. In a half that could have been a massacre, credit to Villa for standing tall.
The second half saw the away side bring on Rudy Gestede and then we returned to snoozeville for much of the second half. I honestly, could not recall a single moment in the second half until the 75th that was of note. I think maybe Dier made a weird error, and Hugo made a save or two but honestly it was like the real life version of the stereotypical parody of soccer than NFL fans from Texas think the sport is. So we’ll skip ahead to that part of the match under the promise that I am not being lazy, it was just really that uneventful. At this point in time Villa started to turn the pressure up and come back in to the game. They maintained the bulk of possession for a good 10 minute spell, which culminated with a Bacuna shot hitting the post, followed by Ayew shooting it from about 25 yards out, it redirecting off Vertonghen, and giving Lloris no chance of stopping it. So that would seemingly be a wake up call...but nope. We continued to let Villa pressure us. Until, right at the close of the game, we decided to wake up and attack. Lamela and Eriksen worked a very clever corner routine and won us a few chances, as well as Onomah and Lamela working the flanks to get fouls and crosses in. Finally, FINALLY, in the last couple minutes of play a bit of magic between Eriksen, Lamela, and Kane sees the Han Solo of Spurs, Harold Kane, place a shot in to the upper right to seal off the 3-1 victory and extend his scoring run. 4 goals in 2 games, what a guy!
I cannot overstate how boring and uncharacteristic of Spurs this game of football was. If you watch just the goal recap you will have watched the match. It was not so much it being boring, as it was just…lazy. We did not seem pressured or rushed and decided to maintain our possession rather than look for chances. It wasn’t until Villa came back within 1 and forced some Hugo saves that we decided to try and…play the game. Upcoming week looks terrifying so it was good to get these 3 points in the back and especially good to see that Harry Kane smile. COYS.
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