Thanks to John Ellis for this view on last night's game
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Sometimes a match comes along which just takes your breath away! What a scintillating, pulsating feast of attacking football. Nuno Santo has fashioned a marvellous inventive footballing side which at times completely outplayed Spurs.
Their play was switched from side to side with a mix of short and long range passing which continually left Spurs exposed down either flank. Within the mix there was also the capability of the long ball over the top which as the game wore on also caused mayhem amongst the beleaguered Spurs backline. The only missing facet to their play was a Harry Kane type striker who could finish the chances created as despite their wonderful football they somehow contrived not to score a goal in open play.
The fact is though Spurs - shorn of so many players including a number of stars such as Vertonghen, Sanchez (through number of games within a week), Rose, Dier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Dele and within minutes of kick off Dembele - showed great resilience, scored three very good away goals to leave Molineux with three valuable away points.
It has been an unsettling start to the season. The furore in the media of being the first Premier League club not to sign a player in the summer transfer window; the late arrival back into training of so many star players due to World Cup duties; Lloris being arrested; so many injuries; delays and continuing confusion over the new stadium; frustrations over playing at Wembley and trawling up to Milton Keynes to play a home game; poor results in the Champions League; concerns over Pochettinoís future, and Gary Nevilleís outburst. The list is a long one.
And yet having played seven of their first eleven matches away and only four at home, Spurs sit in the top four just three points behind the current leaders Liverpool who according to the media are taking all before them and the only side likely to push City for the title - not to mention Arsenal who havenít lost a game since God was a boy and yet are still below Spurs in the league table.
Of the seven away games Spurs have won six and taken 18 out of 21 points - just let that sink in for a minute. Almost any team would be beyond delighted to have such a home record. It is also fair to say the game lost should have been won at Watford when a second half lead was thrown away.
On a cold Saturday night, two commemorative events took place. There was a minuteís applause for the five people who tragically lost their lives in the helicopter crash after last weekís match at Leicester City and a two minute silence remembrance of those who lost their lives in armed combat. Both of these events were supported by both sets of fans. In the middle of the two events was quite a long confusing interval whereby the ground fell into silence. The Spurs fans some of whom in any event would have come into the stadium post the minute's applause began to sing. This brought howls of derision from the home fans but it should not have done. There hadnít been any announcement for silence and no blame could be pointed towards the Spurs fans who are always respectful of any such event including when remembering rival fans at the grounds of our arch London rivals.
And so on to the game. Saturday night football and on a family bonfire weekend shows how little regard the TV companies and Premier League have for football fans. Spurs in particular seem to be being singled out for these occasions as by the time we play Leicester at a similar time in December, it will be our third Saturday evening kick off.
The first ten minutes was punctuated by a long stoppage for a bad injury to Dembele which somewhat surprisingly brought boos from the Wolves fans. Spurs gradually took a measure of control and with the effervescent Winks pulling the strings enjoyed long spell of possession. Wolves though were also showing themselves to be a good footballing side and had a couple of decent efforts on goal.
The away end was the side length of the pitch but quite narrow in terms of rows of seats which made it difficult for the travelling fans to co-ordinate their songs and create their normal boisterous atmosphere. In the 20th minute a great move down the left led to Moura putting in Kane to shoot across the box against the far upright. It felt as if this is how it is going for Kane at this time. On the 28th minute mark Trippier, Moura and Lamela combined in a wonderfully constructed move which finished with high technical quality from Lamela who burst through to bury in the left hand corner and with his right foot to put Spurs in front!
Within a couple of minutes Spurs had doubled their lead with another fine move which ended with Trippierís pinpoint cross to Moura who rose to head Spurs into a two goal lead!
In the 33rd minute the keeper just about kept out Kaneís surprise long range effort by parrying to safety.
In the 43rd minute Sissoko broke through the middle, he looks so much more comfortable when able to go right or left, and played to Moura who in turn released Lamela to surprisingly over hit his cross from a very promising position. Wolves however continued to impress with inventive free flowing football which created an entertaining first half and had what looked to be a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside.
From the restart Wolves continued to impress and Lloris was forced into two good saves and an excellent third to keep the two goal lead intact. Wolves had certainly not given up and continued to press with bright intelligent and attacking football. In the 62nd minute amazing Ronaldinho-esque skills from Lamela set up Kane whose first shot was saved but he made no mistake with his follow-up to put Spurs three goals up and seemingly put the match beyond Wolves reach.
In the 66th minute Kane brought a finger tip top corner diving save to keep out a fourth as Spurs threatened to run riot. Just a couple of minutes later though the game took a change in direction. Trippier tried be too clever which led to Foyth being put under pressure and conceding a penalty which reduced the deficit back to two goals.
Kane brought yet another good diving save which kept Wolves in the game. In the 75th minute yet another lovely move by Wolves ended with a defence splitting pass. Time seemed to standstill as the striker centre of goal unmarked had all the time in the world to pick his spot and fired past Lloris.....and surprisingly passed the post. It really should have been 2-3.
Just three minutes later it was 2-3. Foyth was adjudged to have fouled again and gave away a second penalty. Suddenly it was game on and the momentum was with the home side. Backed by a loud home support, the Wolves had their tails up. Spurs were rocking on the ropes and with ten minutes to go literally any of the three results seemed possible. Every long ball over the top threatened danger and especially towards the right flank where Trippier was having a torrid time.
Time and again Wolves attacked down the flanks wave after wave and Spurs seemed bereft of ideas on how to stop them. Spurs were being overrun and outplayed. Wolves were all over them like a rash. It was a case of all men to the pumps with desperate last ditch tackles, interceptions and blocks and Lloris diving braving threw a mass of bodies to punch clear. Eventually in the fifth minute of added time, Mike Dean put the whistle to his lips and blew time on a fabulous entertaining nerve jangling match. Phew! What a game!
If Spurs had thrown away a three goal lead or worse conceded four to lose, imagine Gary Neville and the rest of the media pack. They would have been all over it and what a demoralising affect it might have had on the season. Credit to the players though, they dug deep to come away with a victory to complete their third match in just six days. They can have the luxury of a 72 hour break now before their next match...
Harry Winks had a fantastic first half and could well be become the fulcrum of not only the Spurs midfield but also Englandís. Foyth gave away two penalties but actually played very well and is a fine ball playing centre half in the making. Sissoko is gaining in confidence match by match and put in one hell of a shift.
Lamela was simply outstanding. He combined outstanding technique with an incredible team ethic work rate. At this stage of the season, he would have my vote for player of the season.
Moura contributed at both ends of the pitch and put in a much improved performance as compared with last Monday night. On another night Kane could have had at least a hat-trick but was thwarted by some fine goal keeping. A big concern is Eriksen who came on and was but a shadow of the player we know him to be. There are a lot of rumours circling about his abdomen problem and letís hope they are just what they are - rumours. Eriksen is a gem of a player and we need him fully fit and back in the side as quickly as possible.
When the squad is fully fit, competition for places will be fierce. As an example picking three from Eriksen, Dele, Son, Moura, Sissoko and Lamela will be tough - letís just hope we stay competitive in all four competitions!
There is a lot of moaning and groaning about all manner of stuff connected with the club at the moment and especially the frustrations of having to play at Wembley. This isnít the fault of the manager or the players. We demand loyalty from them and in return we should be close to filling out Wembley every match to support this fine team.
For however long it takes and hopefully itís only just a few more weeks, letís accept the journey. Letís put aside our frustrations over the tourist fans. Letís close our ears to the Disney music outside the stadium and the popcorn eaters inside the stadium. Letís retain the identity of our fan base, turn out in our hordes and again recreate the amazing unique atmosphere we are capable of to inspire the team towards yet another title challenging season.
∑ Spurs Odyssey match report
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