They have a team that has played together for a rather long time at the highest level. Even if it wasn't thheir absolute best 11 most of them have still played and trained together for several years. And the new signing who scored for them cost a lot more than ours. But what really showed how much better squad they have is that we brought on Jota, Kodija and Luiz, they brought on Christian Eriksen, one of the most wanted attacking midfielders in the world. And at a time when were getting tired.
Anyway, before the game I was hoping for us to hit the ground running and that they would have a bad day, maybe underrate us a little so that we maybe we could nick a point or 3. There have been bigger upsets in the league. A part of me hoped that we wouldn't get spanked like norwich, and part of me worried that we would be like wham earlier on that day. So when we took the lead and held out for so long, defended really well in the first half added with some decent counter attacks I was quite pleased but with their pressure I feared that we would never hold up. And in the second half they put in the next gear. I don't think we sat back on and defended like that on purpose in the 2nd half. It was mostly down to them speeding up and really started to pull us from side to side wearing us out. We were chasing the ball all the time and the few times we got hold of it we were too tired to move to get it and with tired heads also comes bad decisions. And they put on a pressure that we couldn't stand up to.
There was a point around the 65th minute, though, that I started to get my hopes up. They had a poor finish from outside the penalty area from a position that wasn't that good. It felt like they were getting frustrated. And had that held on we could've got something. Then they brought on Eriksen and that hope vanished. And as soon as they scored the equaliser I knew we'd lose. Some teams scoring an eqauliser that late having been chasing the game for so long would've been pleased with that and lost some pace, but not the top teams against lower teams. They wanted more and I knew they would. Just a shame that it came from a poor mistake. But he'll learn from that.
So, postive points:
The defending. Not just from our 4 defenders and the keeper, but the whole team. Together they made it really hard for tottenham to get through and create good chances in the first half. And Engels and Mings played really well together. I've had my doubts about how they would play, but they stood up to this test very well.
We looked like we can be dangerous on the break. I don't want us to play counter attacking football, but in games like this one it's a very good weapon to have. We weren't perfect, but this was the first game of the season and that against a team that is about as good as they come. I think many of our players are good enough for this league, even though we were outplayed for most of the game.
And the more I look at it, we were robbed on a penalty. During the game I thought it was hard to see what really happened, but now I've seen some replays and yes, I think it's a penalty. Sanchez doesn't touch the ball, he gets in to McGinn and tumbles over him which brought McGinn down. Some say he fell over too easy, but I don't think he did. It doesn't look like a dive to me. And with VAR as help I can't see why it wasn't given. (Sidenote on VAR: I've been sceptic to it, but during this game it worked very well except for the outcome. It didn't take a long time for any of the two decisions. A thumb up.) Had it been in the other end of the pitch I have no doubts it would be given.
Jota and Wesley. I acknowledged they had a difficult game but I still think they could've done better. It's never easy to come on as a sub like Jota did in a game where your team is under such a big pressure, but I still think he could've run more to show himself to get the ball and to keep it and keep passing it on. He gave away some very sloppy passes. Wesley wasn't that bad, he was very isolated, but I still hade higher hopes for him and I wonder if he's the natural striker we need. And to have Kodija as a backub isn't a sign of strength.
This was a wake up call for many fans and a few players, I think. And this game might show why Grealish isn't ahead of players like Alli in the pecking order for England. But I have no doubts that he'll be good enough to fit in this league and one day play for England. I think we'll survive, and next weekend we'll see how we really fair. I'm still excited.
And I had a great weekend in London with my friends and meeting "Just Alan" from VT. If he reads this he'll know.