SATURDAY 6th OCTOBER, 2018
(At Wembley - 3pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1) CARDIFF CITY 0(0)
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Darren Cann & Dan Robathan
Fourth official:- Paul Tierney
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt,); Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose (sub Davies, 88); Winks, Dier; Sissoko (sub Wanyama, 85), Lucas Moura, Son (sub Lamela, 72); Kane
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Walker-Peters; Skipp; Llorente
Booked:- Sanchez (foul on Paterson), Kane (unsporting conduct), Alderweireld (foul on Murphy)
Cardiff (4-2-3-1):- Etheridge; Manga, Morrison (Capt.), Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Ralls; Hoilett (sub Harris, 78), Arter, J, Murphy; Paterson (sub Ward, 78) (sub Reid, 85)
Subs not used:- B. Murphy (GK); Richards; Gunnarsson; Zohore
Booked:- Arter (encroaching free kick after foul on Lamela)
Sent off:- Ralls, 58 (Dangerous play - tackle on Lucas Moura)
Dier win for Spurs.
It wasn't a dire win for Spurs in that sense, but it was an Eric Dier goal in only the eighth minute of this game that gave us the three points, and enabled us to equal our best Premier League start after 8 games. 6 wins and 18 points keeps us in the top four and gets us closer to Manchester City and/or Liverpool who play tomorrow, but nobody should pretend we performed well today.
Cardiff have had their worst start to a league season for nearly 30 years, but they did muster more shots on goal than they have in previous games this season, and will no doubt take strength from that. Spurs were still missing those key players (Vertonghen, Dembele, Eriksen and Dele), but for some reason, Erik Lamela, who had been our best player in midweek against Barcelona did not start, and was replaced by Moussa Sissoko. Danny Rose replaced Ben Davies at left back, and Eric Dier started next to Harry Winks in front of the four man defence.
The crowd was a moderate 43,000 plus, and Cardiff actually brought more fans to Wembley than had Barcelona on Wednesday. Their fans were heard more than Spurs fans during the game too. The "Bluebirds" gave us one or two scary moments, but neither goalkeeper was unduly taxed during a game played in miserable and quite cold October weather.
Cardiff kicked off, playing away from their fans and towards the West goal. I thought that both Dier and Sissoko (both of whom have plenty of critics amongst Spurs supporters) showed well in the early stages, and both put in important challenges, stretching the extra half yard to win the ball in the middle. Sissoko will inevitably be moderately marked in our post-match survey, but I did not see him do much wrong today. I personally could not pick a stand-out player for Spurs today.
Dier's goal came early in the game and followed a corner taken on the left. Sanchez had a header blocked and Dier latched onto the loose ball to fire home from quite close range for his first club goal since April, 2017.
Cardiff fought back and Lloris had to get down sharply to Harry Arter's shot. Son was working hard, out on the Spurs left flank. He had one cross blocked, before he took the ball to the bye-line and saw his cross/shot saved by Etheridge in the Cardiff goal.
Harry Kane and Lucas Moura combined towards the left and Lucas fed the ball to Sanchez whose shot was saved. Another move followed Kane's pass to Trippier on the right, who fed it on to Sissoko, who passed to Lucas Moura, who had a right footed shot held by the Cardiff keeper.
Just like another lowly club last week (Huddersfield), Cardiff also deploy a long throw merchant - Morrison - but he doesn't throw it as long as Billing did last week. There was a big scare for Spurs when Murphy got the better of Rose and hit a shot over Lloris which Toby Alderweireld quite heroically cleared from the feet of the advancing Junior Hoilett in front of the goal-line. A corner was given and Bamba headed onto the top of the Spurs net.
The game was opening up, and Cardiff were gaining plenty of possession. Harry Kane did have a shot on goal from distance, after a pass from Lucas Moura, but it was an easy hold for the keeper. At the very start of the game, Lucas had been ahead of Kane. Son snatched a loose ball around the half-way line, passing to Lucas who again gave Kane a shot on goal, but this was blocked. Lucas Moura glanced a header wide across the goal after a cross from the right by Trippier, after Sissoko's pass.
At the other end, Hugo Lloris was out to clear from Josh Murphy as Cardiff had advanced upon the Spurs goal. Lucas Moura fired wide after Winks's pass to Son and a cross from the left. There was some good attacking play by Spurs featuring Kane and Lucas Moura, which ended with a pass by the Brazilian to Son who fired well over the target.
After the break, Danny Rose attacked down the left and crossed for Kane to have a header saved and Lucas Moura to hit a shot from which Spurs won a corner after Morrison's goal-line clearance. Kane had another effort blocked after Harry Winks had carried the ball, and Son then Sissoko had been involved in the move. Cardiff remain the only side Kane has faced in the Premier League against whom he has not scored. It is not as if he has played them much!
Spurs endured a degree of pressure from Cardiff, but eventually cleared without facing a clear shot on goal. Sissoko and Son combined at the other end to give Kane another opportunity. Harry delayed his shot, but hit his right foot effort wide of the keeper's right post.
In the 58th minute, Cardiff's Joe Ralls was shown a red card by referee Mike Dean, presumably for a dangerously high tackle upon Lucas Moura, who had not advanced too far into the Cardiff half. Of course, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock moaned about the decision later. You could see the referee reaching for his back pocket where he keeps his red card. Harry Kane was shown a yellow card shortly after this, presumably for the way he had manhandled Ralls after his tackle upon Lucas Moura. This was Harry's third yellow so far in the Premier League this season, and he also saw yellow against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Cardiff's ten men fought well, whilst Spurs lost impetus. Lloris saved from Sean Morrison after Camarasa's free kick. At the other end Son fed the ball to Rose who went down inside the Cardiff area, but there was no foul. Lamela came on for Son and had a shot held after Sissoko's pass, but now Spurs seemed to be more interested in ensuring their hold on the three points. There were five minutes of added time, during which Kane and Lucas Moura shared some interplay but Manga defended well against Lucas Moura.
This was not the impressive win we hoped for, but a win is a win, and Spurs remain well placed in the ongoing battle for a top four place. Hopefully some of our key players will be available for the game against West Ham on October 20th.
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