Date: 25th January 2019 at 10:50am
Written by:
My thanks to the superb Forensic Onions

Selections and Structure

Gazzaniga came in as “Cup Goalie”. Aurier and Davies were in, presumably, to make a more robust defensive back four. Dier and Sissoko came into midfield (more robustness in mind I guess).

We started in a 41212 diamond with Dier at the base, Eriksen at the tip, with Lamela and Llorente up top. 

The Game

In theory the structure wasn’t a bad notion against this Chelsea, as long as we were more aggressive than the first leg, maybe even used Eriksen to stifle Jorginho, as well as torment him, the way we used Alli in the league game, pressed more cohesively and played further up the pitch.

Unfortunately none of this came to pass. And, more annoyingly, it’s not like we were defensively steadfast either. 

Unsurprising perhaps, for players that had all been missing recently, Aurier, Dier and Sissoko were like three stewed prunes in Moulinex hairdryer, incapable of either defending competently or playing football under the pressure of Chelsea’s press, and with Hazard revelling in being set out in his favourite inverted ALM position, we were being constantly tormented down that side. 

The first goal was really poor, schoolboy stuff. If Poch has set us up to leave two guys just standing on the edge of the box for a corner, it’s really poor coaching, and even if he hasn’t, Dier and Sissoko were both stood marking no one, surely Dier should spot this and send someone out there?

Then when the shot comes in, Davies does make a valiant effort to block but then Dier flinches and Sissoko makes some cack footed motion and just succeeds in deflecting the ball past a hapless Gazzaniga, who’d had to wait for it to go through three players before he sees it. It was farcical. 

We’d struggled to play enough football in the first leg, putting Dier and Sissoko into that midfield three was never going to remedy that, neither are comfortable receiving the ball under pressure or playing football through it. So we didn’t much. 

The second goal was as pathetic as the first. Dier gives away his umpteenth foul and decides it would be much better to stand around bitching about it, rather than stopping them playing it, Chelsea play on, ba bing ba bing, ba bang ba bang and the player he let the ball get played to while he was faux outraging scores. 

The second Poch drops Dier back and we switch to a 3421.

And this did have an immediate improving effect, the next 15 minutes was the only prolonged spell of the tie in which we had any kind of control (the only phase of this tie where we had more possession 54% during this phase), gradually though, we relinquished this control and it was killed for good when Poch decided to bring on Sanchez for Sissoko, who fell victim to a “friendly fire” wounding by the hapless Aurier, and push the woeful Dier back into midfield.

Any momentum left was well and truly extinguished, although truth be told, momentum ad pretty much gone by then any way. 

If we could have kept our foot on the throttle whilst we had that momentum we may well have got something more, they were clearly rattled for the first time in the two legs, alas, it was not to be. As it was they were unlucky not to finish us off on normal time, last ditch defending and poor finishing saving us that ignominy. 

Truth be told we were second best for the vast majority of the two legs. Of course we were really hamstrung by the loss of Kane, Alli and Son in this leg, but they were all part of the first leg in which we were thoroughly outplayed. 

Personally I’m more disappointed by the performances in both games, than the result. You can lose important games to good teams, that happens, but the limp showing in the first leg was really poor and we have played football for about 15 minutes out of 180. 

Poch is a great coach, he continues to surprise and impress me, we’ve by and large been really good for the last couple of months, but this is another pair of big games where I find myself questioning his approach a little, especially that first leg. 

  • Aside from cerebrospinal fluid, what's on your mind?

  • PlayitagainSamways January 25, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Please release me, let me go….

    Gazzaniga’s got a pass in him. Hugo can stick to the drinking.

    Eriksen will have realised last night that he is too good for this team.

    Toby is holding back, which shows how good he is, he is deliberately not being a leader as he knows hes off.

    We were better 2 Years ago and still won naff all.

  • Legoverlass January 25, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Personally I am fed up to the back teeth with always being the bridesmaid and never the bride. I am also fed up with Pooch trying to justify yet another big match defeat as something to be “proud” of because we “competed” . Competing is the base line and winning is what you are proud of. Being proud of a defeat is the language of a loser. Levy we all know is the main culprit in this never ending ground hog day saga but Pooch is very much complicit having been here five years and still mumbling about projects and being ahead in terms of development.look at the figures since ENIC took control. One pathetic league cup victory in over 17 years and bottom of the league table in net investment levels. These two facts are not mutually exclusive They tell the story that deep down we all know. Our best players never stay because they are not paid the going rate and they want success. The fact that Levy pays himself the highest salary in the EPL and the fact that Pooch is paid amongst the highest wages is not overlooked by our players and their agents when they are being told there is not enough money in the pot to pay them a going rate. This is where the disconnect exists between the differing ambitions of the owners and the players and the supporters. It creates a situation in which we never progress further than the promise of ham tomorrow. Pooch is now firmly tarnished with that smell as he took the money in the summer and is prepared to flog his squad to death to justify his own warped sense of ego that he and he alone has this different ability of turning water into wine with a team so clearly lacking in many areas: The reality is what we saw yet again last night. Make no mistake over the two legs Chelsea in terms of individual quality were a quantum leap ahead of us

    • Harry Hotspur January 25, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Oooh that’s good.

  • Elevenstonedidiots January 25, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I thought the first goal showed a lack of leadership. Toby or Verts need to be bawling at Dier and Sissoko to man the edge of the box. Agree about the 2nd goal, Dier too busy posturing while Chelsea take the quick free. Given the number of shit players out there(Aurier, Dier, Sissoko, Llorente & Moura) its commendable that we managed to stay in the game until the end and its testament to the never say die attitude Poch has instilled in the squad. We could easily have been rolled over 4 nil and probably would have been under a number any of our previous managers. The frightening thing is that last night’s team is pretty much our 1st team for the next few weeks. The limitations of this squad are finally being exposed after years of chancing our arm

  • Is Gascoigne gonna have a crack? January 25, 2019 at 10:21 am

    It’s nice that people are finally coming round…. Bit late really. Like I said to every Levy lobotomee in the past when there was no getting through…. ‘talk to me in 5years’….this is the Advent of the reality check. One of the most heartbreaking things, highlighted in last blog, is watching Spurs legends like King and Roberts go hook line and sinker to the Levy spin club. Every aspect of this club has been sullied and ravaged until unrecognisable. It’s easy to pipe up after the damage is done. Spare a thought for those who have been trying to warn fans from the start and taking flack. HH one of the only Spurs websites that’s done so.
    Towing the party line has gone from being a good little Spurs fan to being shown up more and more as a shill for a parasitical entity that’s destroyed a beloved football club. For any harbouring hope that the famed “project” is bringing anything for us except NFL and Arianne Grande concerts…. Save yourselves.

    • Harry Hotspur January 25, 2019 at 10:24 am

      The Levybottomites.

      Such a genius word on several levels, even if I say so myself. Thanks agains for the inspiration!

      • Is Gascoigne gonna have a crack? January 25, 2019 at 10:31 am

        Haha…😃.. And it’s all about levels in this game, as we know as perpetual bridesmaids.

        See you at the Superbowl party! 🙋