BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 24TH AUGUST 2014
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (3) QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0 (0)
Chadli 12, 37
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- G Beswick & D Cann
Fourth official:- R East
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Dier, Kaboul (Capt), Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb (sub Dembele, 59), Capoue; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli (sub Kane, 69); Adebayor (sub Soldado, 80)
Subs not used:- Friedel; Davies; Holtby, Lennon
QPR (3-5-1-1):- Green; Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne (sub Onuoha, 46); Isla, Fer (sub Faurlin, 68), Barton (Capt), Mutch, Traore; Phillips (sub Zamora, 74); Remy
Subs not used:- Murphy; Simpson; Wright-Phillips, Hoilett
Booked:- Fer (foul on Capoue)
Pochettino’s Spurs look slick and quick
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs went to the top of the fledgling league (I remember when we didn’t show the table until three games had been played), with a smashing 4-0 win over Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers, on Harry’s first official return to White Hart Lane. All complimentary remarks have to be tempered against the mediocre (to say the least) performance of QPR, who insisted on playing 3-5-2 for the whole of the first half, despite the Spurs onslaught.
Spurs seemed to have Rangers at their mercy at the touch of a button, or should I say on the receiving end of Lamela’s speed and guile, or Eriksen’s creative juices, or new star Eric Dier’s speed and strength down the right wing. Pochettino has obviously been working hard on the training ground. His style demands the ultimate level of personal fitness, which is why some of the World Cup stars have had to work their way up to the requisite level. It didn’t always work, but when that happened, Spurs usually had the strength and determination to win the ball back in the middle. The players usually knew where their colleagues were, or would be. They cleverly let the ball do the work at times, coupled with a twist and a turn to take the ball away from a befuddled defender or midfielder. There were many times when Spurs went through Rangers like a knife through butter.
Pochettino surprised one or two with the preference of Nacer Chadli for either Aaron Lennon, or Andros Townsend. Townsend wasn’t even on the bench. Neither were our Brazilians, Paulinho and Sandro, which says something about the strength of the squad. That squad might be one lighter very soon, because club captain Michael Dawson was also absent, and apparently is on his way to Hull. If true, then one can only say that Michael has been a true and loyal servant to the club. If the move comes about, I shall write more about him then.
Regarding Dier, I really do think he is a superstar in the making, and a real catch for Spurs. There were times in the second half, when he was racing down the right wing, that he reminded me of Gareth Bale, and I wanted to chant “Dier, Dier!” in that Bale style. Last week, Eric was the star of the show at Upton Park with that late, late winner. This week, I didn’t see him put a foot wrong. Apart from his attacking skills as a right back, he defended and tackled with great strength, and to cap it all, he scored a great goal from a corner!
Chadli was perhaps a Pochettino master-stroke. Nominally he was on the left, but he turned up in the middle too, as shown by his two goals which make him level top scorer with Dier! Both Bentaleb and Capoue were reliable in front of the back four, and both showed capability to deliver penetrative and accurate passes from deep Capoue was rumoured to be a player on the potential exit list, but I don’t see that, and feel he is very much part of Pochettino’s plans. The fans gave each of the substituted players (Bentaleb, Chadli, and Adebayor) great applause, and perhaps many have been swayed away from the “Sherwood’s love child” label. After all, Nabil did play in the World Cup too!
That 3-5-2 of Harry and now his appointee Glenn Hoddle, will require some work. They gave up on it at half time, with Onuoha replacing Richard Dunne, switching to a more traditional four at the back (4-5-1). Towards the end of the first half, Armand Traore had pulled back to the left back slot, and in fairness in a 3-5-2, the wing backs are supposed to retreat in defensive situations. The QPR team looked like a bunch largely cobbled together, and one which will need a while yet to acclimatise to the Premier League. They haven’t managed a goal in their two games. Spurs haven’t conceded. That’s great, isn’t it?
Bearing mind they are a fellow London side, Rangers’ away support was moderate by usual standards, occupying less of the south-west corner than most.
Spurs excited within the first minute, after Lamela exchanged passes with Adebayor, before advancing upon goal, having his shot deflected to win the first corner. After 5 minutes, Lamela started an attack from his own half, feeding Eriksen near the half-way line, before our number 23 found Dier racing down the right flank. Dier’s cross/shot was held by Rob Green. Lamela impressed me throughout the game, with his energy. He showed that he is a gutsy and skilful player, often cleverly leaving a foot in a challenge and being rewarded with the ball as a result. There is so much skill and desire in this man. I am sure he is going to have a good season.
After 10 minutes, there was another Lamela-Adebayor exchange. Lamela passed to Chadli who was on the left side of the box. Chadli tried his options, before giving the ball to Bentaleb, whose cross was headed over by Adebayor. The deserved lead came in the 12th minute, from a good move started in our half. After good work by Eriksen, it was Bentaleb’s ball down the left channel to Adebayor who crossed to the back post, where Chadli took one touch before firing home.
Jan Vertonghen looked bright in the first half, and showed willingness to break forward. He and that man Lamela broke from the Spurs half, after a QPR corner. Vertonghen crossed low to Adebayor, who tried an instinctive shot, which had no power, and was saved by Green.
QPR surprised us with a long ball for Matty Phillips, who got behind Kaboul and really should have scored, but he fired over instead. Lloris saw little other action in the first half. Whenever Rangers did take a corner Joey Barton was heartily booed by the Spurs faithful. However, in fairness to him, he did show great resilience and skill defending against two Spurs players near his own corner flag in the second half..
After a foul on Lamela just outside the box we saw the referee’s magic spray for the first time in this game, and we nearly saw a second goal for Spurs, when Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the underside of the bar, and ran clear. In the brief melee which followed, Chadli tried an overhead kick, which went over the bar. Spurs did get a second goal in the 30th minute. Dier was involved in the winning of the corner, and the away fans near him were shouting for handball. They were shouting for a different reason next, when Dier made a run to the near post to glance a header home with power into the left side of Green’s goal. Rob Green got a touch, but not enough.
Both Adebayor and Eriksen had chances blocked inside the QPR area, before Spurs went three up through another great move. Dier had passed inside to Eriksen, who hit a measured pass to Lamela in a central position. Lamela made for the left side of the box and crossed for Chadli to head home. Afterwards we did a count, and the number of passes leading up to the goal without a QPR player touching the ball totalled a Premier League record of 48. That made the goal extra special. All three goals had come in front of the Park Lane End, who were naturally ecstatic. Just before the break, Danny Rose (who also had a very good game) made a quick pass to Eriksen, who passed inside to Adebayor, whose shot won a corner.
Rangers reverted to a 4-5-1 at the break, but it made no difference to Dier, who raced down towards the corner flag, before passing inside to Lamela, who fired over. Shortly after that, Adebayor showed good skill to win, retain and feed the ball to Lamela, who was in the right side of the box, but was cleverly muscled out of getting a shot in by the canny and experienced Rio Ferdinand. Next up was Adebayor being fed by Eriksen, but also unable to get in his shot. Eriksen took possession of a loose midfield ball with a header, before running on to take a shot of his own, which passed over the target.
The one yellow card in the game came for Leroy Fer, signed from relegated Norwich, when he fouled Capoue in the Spurs box, as he cleared the ball. Apart from a couple of dubious throw-in decisions, I thought the referee and his assistants had a good game. Mr Taylor wanted to let the game flow, but correctly called back an advantage decision for a Spurs free kick.
Chadli was to the fore again, and this time on the left flank, near the half-way line, skilfully feeding the ball to an overlapping Danny Rose, who raced clear, and crossed low into the path of Adebayor, who drilled the ball home inside the keeper’s left-hand post.
With the three substitutions, and a bit more application by the visitors (not least from Bobby Zamora, as always shielding the ball well), Spurs did have a few corners to defend. Rangers even had the ball in the net from one, but the referee ruled there had been foul play. Steven Caulker had a good effort on goal, saved by Lloris. In fact, the only bad news I can think of about today’s game is that I have Steven Caulker in my fantasy team. Ah, but I also have a Spurs clean sheet, and a goal and assist by Adebayor, and an assist by Lamela!
So it was a great day for Spurs. Next Sunday, at the same time, and this time in front of Sky’s cameras, we will have a sterner test (and revenge I hope) when Liverpool come to White Hart Lane! Why, I’m even starting to feel optimistic about Spurs again!
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