We’ve been flying as of late. There’s a sense of belief around the team that I haven’t seen in my tenure as a fan. We beat City, we’re 7 wins in a row and 2 points out of first place…and above a certain garbage team. Things are looking great! I didn’t write last week about city because it would have just been “AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!” for 15,000 characters but wow what a game! We face off against Fiorentina in the Europe League tonight, the team who beat us out of it last season, who have never conceded a goal at home to an English side….dun dun dunnnnn!!!!
We started out strongly, with 6 changes from our lineup at City, maintaining the bulk of possession and keeping a very slow, methodical pace. Fiorentina were very quick to collapse back any time we got the ball, without pressing us, and just throwing numbers behind the ball. We maintained our shape well and Fiorentina looked…timid? Dele Alli carving Fiorentina up with his dribbling in a way that no 19-year-old on earth should be able to do. This kid’s touch carries him past several Fiorentina players at once, every time he gets the ball (and you can add a few to the nutmeg counter). We had a few opportunities in and around their box, but the sheer number of Fiorentina players who collapsed in on the ball snuffed out any possibilities we had to shoot at goal. After a possible red card shout from Dele Alli punting Tomovic in the ribs, Bernadeschi missed a GOLDEN chance to keep us from going 0-1 down, and Fiorentina seems to have been spurred on by that because they came at us with pace. Davies bursts into the box and gets caught by Tomovic to win us a penalty, which Chadli steps up to take and buries handily, sending the keeper the complete wrong way. The first goal an English side has ever scored in Fiorentina, and it’s by Spurs (suck it) and by Nacer Chadli of all people! Nice! Few chances for both sides, but nothing really testing until a Zarate miskick over the bar from a bouncing cross that finds him completely open on the edge of the box. We manage to go into the half up 1-0, which is arguably deserved. We outplayed them, but they had some good chances and we may have deserved to be one man down… maybe….perhaps (yes).
Dembele on for Carroll, and not Dele Alli, at the half and instantly we get a 40 yard free kick chance which Son scores fantastically, but is unfortunately offside. They refuse to show a replay, but the set was worked perfectly. Son came near side and just nods a short kick home past the keep very skillfully. UNFORTUNATELY, it did not count. It’s a good hallmark of this season that we continue to try and score after leads despite out brick wall defense and really shows the character of the squad under Poch. Our tactics fluctuating tonight, with a mix of throwing balls up field, and individuals walking up the pitch slowly. We opened up Fiorentina and played Chadli into the box, who cuts back smoothly and then shanked a shot to the near post and wide. Heres a question for the readers at home: have you ever watched an Italian football match that has had actual attendance? I can’t recall a time when I’ve seen full stands, let alone full sections. It seems like every time I watch an Italian game (game in Italy, at least) that hasn’t had entire sections of the stadium empty. How do these teams make money? Bernadeschi takes a shot from 35 out that deflects off Ryan Mason’s attempted block and gives it the height to tuck just into the crossbar and smash down into the goal. Nothing Vorm could do but now its 1-1 on the night, which is unfortunate since we were much better all night. However, Fiorentina use the goal as a catalyst to attack and start to test our backline more following the tie. We sub Kane on for Son, who has honestly been a bit off tonight, and the storm sirens ring throughout Fiorentina tonight! Nothing happens and then Dier on for Chadli who went completely missing post-goal, and especially after Kane came on. Chances for both sides, with Alli just missing from a really acrobatic effort and Zarate denied by Vorm off a bullet again. Kane gets a yellow card weirdly and the game ends 1-1.
A vital away goal from Chadli to take back to the lane keeps us in this tie, if not favorites to end it and we go off to face Palace this weekend, where the Ghost of Adebayor will be looming. Not the best match, but we go a solid result and everyone is seemingly healthy and I imagine happy-ish? Maybe not Dele, as his teenage angst may be catching up with him as he goes through puberty. Man, that kid is so young and so good. Really makes you feel like a failure, eh? COYS!
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