SUNDAY 21ST NOVEMBER, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) LEEDS UNITED 1(1)
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Simon Long, Scott Ledger
Fourth official:- Kevin Friend
VAR:- Darren England
Assistant VAR:- Ian Hussin
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Tanganga (sub Sanchez, 68), Dier, Davies; Emerson Royal, Hojbjerg, Winks, Reguilon (sub Sessegnon, 79); Lucas Moura (sub Dele, 88), Kane, Son
Subs not used:- Gollini; Doherty, Rodon; Gil, Ndombele, Bergwijn
Booked:- Emerson Royal (foul on James)
Leeds (4-1-4-1):- Meslier; Llorente, Phillips, Cooper (Capt.), Struijk; Forshaw (sub Roberts, 72); Dallas, James, Klich (sub Junior Firpo, 59), Harrison; Gelhardt (sub McKinstry, 87)
Subs not used:- Klaesson; Drameh; Cresswell, Greenwood, McCarron, Jenkins
Booked:- Gelhardt (foul on Dier), Forshaw (foul on Kane), Cooper (foul on Lucas Moura), Phillips (foul on Son)
Spurs still make us twitch
Both teams have eminent and charismatic managers/coaches. Antonio Conte was in charge of his first Premier League game at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and was again welcomed, this time in front of a 58,989 crowd. Both teams were missing key players. In Spurs case that was Cristian Romero, who suffered a hamstring injury on International duty in midweek. Giovani Lo Celso also returned from South America not fully fit and did not make the squad. Oliver Skipp was suspended. Marcelo Bielsa was worse off with long term absentees such as Ayling and Bamford. Current Brazilian ace Raphinha was absent as was Rodrigo. Bielsa’s bench was littered with hardly known players and he played 19-year-old Joe Gelhardt up front.
Nevertheless, Bielsa definitely had the better of the first half, whilst Spurs again failed to register a shot on target. Bielsa put England midfielder Phillips in his back four and played an aggressive midfield four in front of Forshaw, consisting of Dallas, James, Klich and Harrison. Leeds dominated the early stages and most of the first half, with Lloris under threat several times. Spurs players all over the field tried to progress, but too often lacked touch in their control of the ball and effective passing. Their strategy was too often negative as opposed to the adventure of Bielsa.
Perhaps the strategy was to let Bielsa’s men tire themselves out. Spurs were more successful in the second half and were grateful to defensive players Hojbjerg and Reguilon for their goals. A Son shot rebounded off the bar. Here’s a stat for you. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has scored more Premier League goals than Harry Kane so far this season (two to one).
Spurs kicked off, playing towards the North Stand, but even within the first minute, Leeds had a free kick just outside our area. Phillips took the kick, which was on target, but Hugo Lloris held the shot. It was all Leeds in the early stages and Dallas had an arrowed shot pass just wide of Hugo’s right post after 7 minutes. Lucas Moura advanced down the right flank opposed by three Leeds men, and passed inside to Son in the Leeds half, but Son could not control the ball. A Harry Kane cross fell to Reguilon who returned the ball which was cleared.
Kane fed another ball to Emerson who advanced down the right and won a corner, after which a Reguilon shot was blocked. Son made a great run from deep after picking up a loose ball. He passed to Kane, but Phillips was the winner here. Lucas Moura led another attack with a determined run. This move ended with a Davies cross being held by Meslier. Leeds still carried a threat and a cross by former Manchester United man Daniel James was cleared.
Spurs had a concerted attack and won a corner on the right, but that was cleared. After good work by both Son and Reguilon down the left flank, Reguilon crossed, but the ball was headed clear by Cooper as it would otherwise have been met by a Kane header. Reguilon made a run and chose to try a right foot shot from 25 yards, but this was off target. At the other end Forshaw threatened Lloris’s goal with a 28 yard shot which was only just off target. To be honest, it was no surprise when Leeds scored a minute before the break, but it was disappointing to see Harrison allowed to advance into the left side of the area before his cross was converted at close range near the back post by James.
In the first minute of the second half, Lucas Moura passed from a central position to Kane inside the area to his right. Harry’s shot was saved, and Spurs had a corner. It wasn’t long before Lloris had a save to make diving to his right after a James shot from inside the right of our area. Leeds had three corners in succession and in preparation for one of these Harry Kane was our deepest defender!
Only 49 minutes had gone when Lucas fed the ball to Reguilon to his left. His cross was blocked, and Spurs had a corner. A minute later, Lucas was the provider in the middle for Son who turned and hit a snap shot which was deflected onto the bar with the goalkeeper beaten. Minutes later Kane passed to Son who went down in the box with no penalty awarded by referee Andre Marriner. After a pause in play at the other end, there was a brief delay whilst VAR confirmed there would be no penalty. Lloris saved a left foot shot by Gelhardt. Another shot by James was blocked and Lloris had to save again from Gelhardt.
At last Spurs scored. The goal followed good work by Reguilon on the left. His cross fell to Lucas who touched the ball back and Hojbjerg scored with a left foot shot from outside the area. An Emerson cross from the right went into the danger zone but was cleared. Hojbjerg fed a ball to Kane who tried but failed to get a shot on goal on the turn. After a Dier ball into the Leeds area both Kane and Son had shots blocked.
Spurs were on the up now. Forshaw was booked for unfairly halting Kane’s advance. Cooper received similar punishment for ending a Lucas Moura run to the edge of the box. Japhet Tanganga was replaced by Sanchez, who made a number of important interventions. The substitution was made before the free kick, taken by Dier. This was deflected off Leeds’ wall and with Meslier beaten, the ball rebounded off the post with Reguilon snapping up the rebound.
At the other end, a Leeds shot was blocked inside the box and VAR examined the possibility of a Spurs handball, but there was no offence. Lloris held a shot by Leeds substitute Junior Firpo. At the other end, after receiving from Sanchez, Lucas hit a shot well off target.
Ryan Sessegnon made his first Premier League appearance since January 2020 and his first appearance since August. He took up Reguilon’s left wing-back position. Kane and Son battled for the ball in the Leeds half before Son took it on , but hit his right foot shot just wide. Hugo held another shot by James, and after the final round of substitutions Conte actively roused the home support, who did respond.
Spurs basically spent the remainder of the game “managing” the situation, but in added time, Kane did fail to take advantage of a pass by Winks.
This had been a weekend when many results went in Spurs’ favour. I feared we would fail to take advantage, but the win took us up to seventh place, in a good position to improve in the coming weeks. There is a need for more creativity in the middle. Tanguy Ndombele was unused on the bench and has been subject of comments by Conte regarding his fitness levels.
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