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Spurs v Sheffield United, 09.11.19


Spurs scorer:-
Son, 58

Sheffield Utd scorer:-
Baldock, 78

Attendance:- 59,781

Referee:- Graham Scott
Assistants:- Neil Davies, Richard West
Fourth official:- Darren Bond
VAR:- Jonathan Moss
Assistant VAR:- Simon Long.

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Gazzaniga; Aurier (sub Lucas Moura, 86), Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Ndombele (sub Winks, 46), Sissoko; Lo Celso, Dele (sub Foyth, 72), Son; Kane (Capt.)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Alderweireld; Sessegnon, Eriksen

Booked:- Dier (foul on Baldock), Foyth (foul on Fleck)

Sheffield Utd (5-3-2):- Henderson; Baldock, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Stevens; Lundstram, Norwood (Capt.), Fleck; Mousset (sub Robinson, 87), McGoldrick (sub Freeman, 90+5)

Subs not used:- Moore; Jagielka; Besic; McBurnie, Sharp

Booked:- Norwood (foul on Dele), Basham (foul on Son)

Spurs are stymied

Spurs remembers

After the Champions League success in Belgrade in midweek, Spurs were back to the bread and butter of Premier League action on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon in front of a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Unfortunately, Spurs were stymied again and it is six Premier League games now since a win, and we remain in the bottom half of the table. With the top four head and shoulders above the rest, already it looks like a season of mid-table mediocrity to me for my beloved team. As for Chris Wilder’s “Blades”, they deservedly got a draw, and have climbed to fifth place overnight and they are surely likely to remain there for the International break with Brighton away to Manchester United later today. In fact, had United taken all three points (and they were denied a goal by another lengthy VAR review), it would have been hard to have begrudged them their win.

It hurts for Spurs fans to see the names of Sheffield United, Brighton, Palace, Burnley and now even Newcastle above them. We could even drop another two places after today’s games. At least we remain above West Ham, who we play at The London Stadium in two weeks’ time. There will be some tension there.

Most Spurs fans were crying out for the same team to start this game, as that which had beaten Red Star 4-0 on Wednesday. Mauricio Pochettino had voiced concerns over whether Giovani Lo Celso would be ready for this game. Spurs fans were pleased to see virtually the same team selected, and yet “Team Selection” on the Spurs Odyssey post-match survey was deemed below par. Perhaps the inclusion of Aurier (one of the current pet hates of many fans) has led to that assessment. There was none of the recklessness that led to Aurier being booked twice in the first half hour in our last league win against Southampton, also refereed by Graham Scott who swiftly booked Dier today. No doubt Dier was reckless, but Aurier was innocent this time. The only other change was also at full back with Ben Davies on the left. Ndombele and Sissoko were again the men in the middle, with Ndombele definitely starting on the right today.

Spurs did at times play some slick one touch football when they did try to get forward, but it is a harsh fact that despite 64% possession they forged not one shot on target in that period. Harry Kane had the best chance but missed out from close range. His form is a worry, but too often he was alone, and too often lacked service. Consistently, when he did have the ball, he was surrounded by three, even four defenders. Lo Celso gave us some energy and creative spark. Son gave his all, and ultimately got his reward.

Sheffield United, urged on by their very vocal support, were well organised. In defence they had five at the back. Always, they had two up front (Mousset and McGoldrick). When they went forward Baldock, Stevens and sometimes one of the three centre-backs would support them. As an attacking force, the “Blades” were sharper and always threatened Spurs with Dier and Sanchez under pressure. Sanchez did pretty well, but sometimes was a little late to truly gain control of the situation.

The game was preceded by another immaculate remembrance ceremony and silence, which in itself followed the Last Post. Eric Dier’s yellow card came after only one minute of play when he stopped Baldock in his tracks. Players don’t get one free strike from this referee. Following the free kick, Gazzaniga had to tip over a well driven long shot by the “Blades”’ captain Ollie Norwood. There was early pressure for the Spurs defence in front of the “White Wall” as they had to defend successive corners. The Spurs crowd sensed the need of their team and did chant “Come on you Spurs” from an early stage.

After a poor Spurs clearance, United had another good chance. This one fell to Fleck, but Gazzaniga saved and held the shot. Ndombele worked hard in the middle and passed forward to Dele, but his ball intended for Son was too heavy. More skill by Ndombele led to a pass to Kane but he was just surrounded and got nowhere. Dele and Lo Celso were combining well in the middle and the ball was fed to Aurier who crossed, but Kane hit the ball wide. This may have been the occasion when I though Harry should have scored. Another good Spurs build up moved from left to right after good work by Dele and Son. The ball reached Lo Celso via Ndombele and Lo Celso grabbed a left foot shot, which passed wide of Henderson’s right post.

Norwood was booked for a foul on Dele. Eric Dier hit a powerful ball, intended for Son, but it ran all the way to the keeper. Sanchez did make an error in his own half which led to McGoldrick having a shot on goal. This was held by Gazzaniga. Sissoko hit a good ball out to Aurier, whose cross reached Son towards the back of the area. “Sonny” hit a left foot shot over the target. Aurier got a foot in and passed to Lo Celso, feeding Ndombele towards the right side. Tanguy hit a shot which was held by Henderson. There was a scare at the other end as a United cross from the left somehow passed all the way across the 6-yard area. After a United corner, Mousset had a shot blocked. This was after Lundstram's shot had rebounded off the outside of the post.

Spurs had a corner and Aurier tried a shot from distance, but that was well wide. A Davies ball reached Son, who cut it back for Lo Celso, but another shot passed wide of the mark. Lundstram hit a shot high and wide at the other end after being teed up by McGoldrick.

At half-time Mauricio Pochettino replaced Ndombele with Harry Winks. Ndombele apparently reported a groin strain and was unable to continue. Spurs thus lost some of their creative skills. Mousset had a shot well blocked by Sanchez. “Sonny” fired wide at the other end. Lo Celso had been well involved in the Spurs build-up play. Mousset was teed up at the other end by McGoldrick, but somehow hooked his shot wide across the goalmouth. Dele Alli hit a great ball forward to Son, who got deep inside the area to the left of goal, but had his shot smothered. At the other end Sanchez managed to defend well against Mousset, but not at his first attempt.

Spurs took a 58th minute lead. Dele had tried a pass inside the area, and it was a “Blades” defender who hit the ball towards his own goal, where it was snapped up by Son and hit beneath the keeper for “Sonny”’s eighth Spurs goal of the season.

The Spurs joy was short lived as within two minutes McGoldrick had the ball in the net with a shot that passed Gazzaniga’s left hand. Of course United and their fans celebrated, but we faced a protracted VAR review. The longer it went on, the more you sensed it would not go the way of United, and so it proved with Lundstram caught marginally offside in the build-up. Those of us in the stadium were once again ignorant of the reason, but most of us were of course delighted. To his credit Chris Wilder had no gripes about the decision after the game.

Son went down in the box at the other end, but there was no penalty. There may or may not have been a review of this incident. I do recall we were informed there had been a penalty review ages after the actual incident. It may not have been this one.

Dele was replaced by Foyth, who went to right back with Aurier moving forward to a right wing position. Aurier did break forward with Harry Kane, but as soon as he got to the area Harry seemed to be swamped by four defenders. A left foot shot by Winks was easy for goalkeeper Henderson, moving to his right.

The ”Blades” did have a goal in the 78th minute. There was too much space granted to McGoldrick who passed to Baldock, who was on the right side of the area. Baldock’s goal was an intended cross, but the Spurs defence and goalkeeper were sufficiently deceived for the ball to run into the net to the right of the keeper. There was another review, but that one stood.

Lo Celso hit a pass to Son, but that was defended well. Aurier was replaced by Lucas Moura, with only a few minutes left and Spurs desperately sought the win. Winks tried a ball to Kane, but it was too high. A shot by Son from the left was held, and after a cross by Sissoko, Lo Celso hit another shot wide. There were 6 minutes of added time, and at the start of that Basham “took one for the team” as he stemmed Son’s attempted breakaway run not far into the United half.

Winks passed short to Lucas Moura who hit a long shot with power. Henderson tipped that one over his bar. Another Lucas Moura shot took a heavy deflection and for a moment looked as if it might run to the goal, but the United defence cleared the danger.

The final whistle was greeted with boos from the home support. The next three home league games have already sold out, but Daniel Levy might be feeling some financial pressure if this bad form by Spurs continues. Already, Champions League football next season is looking beyond us.

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