Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Anderlecht: Match Report

Being a team that has only lost 3 times this season, facing 2 of the 3 teams we lost to in a matter of 4 days is uh…daunting, to say the least. After letting a lead slip away in Belgium last time out against Anderlecht, it was clear we had taken on a more cautious approach against Villa on the weekend and looked to gain some vengeance against Anderlecht. With a rather young XI, many of whom are expected to play this Sunday against Arsenal, it was important to get the points while also maintaining our energy for the North London Derby. 

The first half started slowly, to put it nicely. Jan Vertonghen was forced in to several last ditch tackles to keep us from falling behind by several goals in the opening ten or so minutes and our attack seemed not to even exist. Would this be another match with an isolated Kane grasping at Alderweireld lob balls from our half or would we put together some fluidity? After settling down a bit, we utilized the flanks for some bright spots and teasing balls. Unfortunately, while we showed positive signs of forward momentum, the final few touches weren’t there and Anderlecht looked the more threatening team. They moved forward with purpose and played some brilliant, quick passes together to create chances. Okaka was a constant menace, and only Hugo’s hand of god stopped Defour’s 25-yard rocket from finding the back of the net. Mason’s inclusion in the team immediately showed us what we were missing from the Englishman during his injury stead, with his defensive prowess only display, as well as his ball distribution. His quick movement paired with Dier’s rock steady CDM performance throughout the first half made up for some poor Alli play, and several giveaways in Anderlecht’s zone. Jan Vertonghen of all people managed to beat the Anderlecht rightback & play a beautiful pass across the center off the box…just no Spurs were there to meet it. Anderlecht looked the more dangerous team for the first half of the first half, culminating in the final sign of the apocalypse: Dele Alli got nutmegged. Truly, the omens were there for a disastrous night. Lamela’s performance was a bright spot, as he was really looking to make runs and plays, passing and running relentlessly. His break through in to the box was our best chance of the first 20 minutes, despite his slip causing him to put the ball just wide of the goal. After a weird eon of Okaka rolling on the floor to distinguish an invisible fire (remember, kids: stop, drop, and roll!) Eriksen played a nice flick pass in to Kane at the edge of the area who SCORED AGAIN!! Making no mistake, Kane fires a well-placed shot in to the bottom left corner past the Anderlecht keeper to remind everyone that HARRY KANE IS BACK, MOTHER*******!!!! This “one season wonder” now has 5 goals in 3 games and 8 goals in 20 appearances for club and country this year. However, the rest of the half fell a bit flat as we tried to get too fancy with several back heel and outside of the boot flicks costing us chances. 

The second half followed suit of the first, with another magnificent save by Hugo denying Defour from distance once again. We almost put ourselves up 2-0, but unfortunately Coco Lamela only has the ability to shoot with one foot, apparently. Anderlecht began to commit men forward and open up the game a bit more. We apparently decided to let them play their own game, and commit men forward under the pretense of hitting them back on the break. However, Alli’s poor passing made sure very few counter attacks broke out. Many humongous defensive efforts from our backline (and Dier + Mason) kept Anderlecht off the score sheet, and our tactics and structure fell out the window. In the 59th minute Eriksen was replaced by Son Heung-Min…the prodigal son, if you will. While tactically I would have preferred Alli to come off for Son, we need to preserve Eriksen for the Arsenal match this weekend and made the decision to rest the Dane and his perfectly coiffed hair. 

Davies managed to find himself with the ball at the edge of the box somehow and smashed a monstrous effort off the crossbar. Although a few chances fell our way, it was clear we were looking a big lethargic and allowing Anderlecht to really grow more and more in to this game. Moments later, Defour plays a floating cross in behind our backline who sat and watched as Ezekiel guided it home to blow our lead and tie it 1-1. Once again Spurs blow a late lead, where have you heard that before? In the 71st we subbed Dembele on for Mason followed by Onomah sometime later. Despite following behind, we continued to let Anderlecht come at us in numbers, and the seemingly very rusty (expected from someone coming right off injury) Son was unable to aid our attacking force very much…until he plays a cross field ball to Onomah to start us off on a series of pressured passing around the Anderlecht box which finds Dembele SMASH a half-volley in to the top right corner to put us up 2-1 late in the game!! With his 3rd goal in 3 games Dembele managed to see us through to a 2-1 victory against Anderlecht (HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED) and puts us top of our group! 

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We not sit atop our group going into a Sunday match with [dramatic lightning strike]…..the scum! Drama will ensue! Sparks will fly! I will make fun of my cousin who is a gooner! Family will come against family! Brother against brother! Ozil against gravity! Who will prevail? Tune in right here, at Spurs Stat Man to find out (like maybe half an hour after you watch it on tv). Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!! Hopefully we win?? COYS!

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