The Blog that's not always wrong.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Dele on the Couch not the Bench.

 I said ''Hot wire it or just blow the bloody doors off''
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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 Spurs application to be allowed just to play in the Champions' League next season has been turned down on a technicality. You have to finish in the top four in the Premiership or win the Europa to progress to the CL.

Mauricio has crossed the Premiership Title off his 'to do' list and even finishing in the top four isn't going to be easy. Perhaps winning the CL is our best hope. And that's before we reach the half way stage of the Premiership season.

We took all the positives going from the Watford encounter. A goal down early again from a corner and a man down for most of the second half we saw overcoming these self inflicted wounds as a bonus.

The draw took us back to 6th on goal difference, four points off the top four and 3 points below Arsenal but without a win in four. A win on Saturday against Stoke looks almost essential for points, momentum and confidence.

Against Watford nobody was outstanding. Son got the goal from a precision cross by Eriksen but was offside more than Defoe in his worst nightmares. Trippier did well and we rode our luck on chances and the late decision on Dier's  handball.

But credit where it is due. We pressed better and put in the effort necessary as a team to compensate for the sending off of Sanchez. A straight red was possibly harsh but a foolish straight arm challenge into the face of Charlison.

The Champions' League is another matter. We scored the highest number of points in this phase than any other team and from the Group of Death. All the English teams did well and 5, a record, proceed to the next stage.

We did so with key injuries and lack of form in key players. We beat Apoel last night convincingly without Kane, Dier, Vertonghen, Eriksen, Lloris and with Alderweireld and Wanyama injured. 8 changes from Saturday.

Apoel were poor agreed but they didn't get a sniff. Winks was little negative but ran things and gave us a firm base. Sissoko played the Elder Statesman before and during the game and gave his best performance so far.

I'm sure he was bought for this purpose to give strength and support in the midfield and going forward. No scout could have failed to see his technical weaknesses at this level.

Dele was more `prominent and was the only 'star' apart from Son to be given the chance to play his way out of a run of poor form. I believe self doubt is his problem. I'm with Mauricio on this as dropping him might backfire.

The amateur psychologist is 'in' couch to rent, easy terms. First up Dele Alli. Next week the case of the retiring Great Dane, Christian Eriksen.

I don't think Dele's head has been turned by the high wages and bright lights elsewhere. It's his own lack of form on the pitch which has got into his head and is causing him problems at a crucial stage in his hitherto 'Golden' career.

He hasn't the age and experience to cope with this and to realise that it happens to everybody. He is playing with a frown rather than a smile. But class is permanent and form is temporary and this boy is essentially class.

I felt sorry for Sterling who waited ten minutes on the touchline for a two minute cameo. KWP performed again with confidence and should get more playing time. Foyth looks a genuine prospect at 19 especially.

But what an entry on your CV. Played in the Champions' League at Wembley. Amos could have had the same and did KWP only get on so early because of the injury to Rose?

Mauricio opted to bring on Dembele for Son on the hour: perhaps at 2-0. Perhaps ten minutes later Luke Amos could have been bloodied as we were clearly on top and had already qualified in any case. 

Vorm didn't have to make a save and Aurier though a bit wild got into some good positions. There was confusion at times at the back but this is to be expected when playing youth and new partnerships.

George-Kevin N'Koudou joined Fernando in scoring his first goal and it was all wrapped up bar some tedious 'game management' by the last 15 minutes. Rose is our best left back but was Mr. Angry last night and needs to calm down.

 Another good CL performance at Wembley which doesn't help to explain our poor performances against average teams in the PL. It can't just be 'Bus Parkers of the World Unite' to beat Spurs surely.

The better teams in the Premiership and in the CL take the game to us more and leave spaces for us to attack and exploit. Is it that simple? Anyway Stoke on Saturday gives us another chance to hone our hot wiring skills.

We have been going through a rough patch and despite that are not far off. It could all be a lot worse.COYS

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Llorente's goal and lay off for Son. George Kevin scores at his 4th attempt. The ball from Winks to Aurier for the opening goal was superb.( Not seen on the video) Looks like one way traffic. Yep that sums it up.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Spurs come to a standstill.

No not 'Going Down!'
Just going down.

And so now we're 7th., below Burnley and the usual suspects who are all finding form, momentum and not a little panache while we stand still.

In the last five games we have lost three times, all away. The 6 teams above us have only lost three times between them in that time.

 Last year we were 5th three points off top four and 7 behind leaders and eventual Champions Chelsea.

Table after 14 games 2016/7

 ............. ..P  W  D  L   F-A   GD   Pts 

1. Chelsea   14 11  1  2  32-11  21   34 
2. Arsenal   14  9  4  1  33-14  19   31
3. Liverpool 14  9  3  2  35-18  17   30 
4. Man City  14  9  3  2  30-15  15   30 
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5. Spurs     14  7  6  1  24-10  14   27
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6. Man Utd   14  5  6  3  19-16   3   21
 
We started slowly last year and had a similar dodgy spell about this time too and recovered to finish second. But this year the heat in the kitchen is hotter, the air conditioning has broken down and more teams are involved.

Premier League Table - 2017-18

                    P  W  D  L   F-A   GD   Pts
1. Man City  14 13  1  0  44-9   35   40
2. Man Utd  14 10  2  2  32-8   24   32
3. Chelsea   14  9  2  3  25-11  14   29
4. Arsenal   14  9  1  4  28-16  12   28
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5. Liverpool 14  7  5  2  28-18  10   26
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6. Burnley   14  7  4  3  14-11   3   25
7. Spurs     .14  7  3  4  22-12  10 .24
8. Watford   14  6  3  5  24-25  -1   21


This year we are 7th. four points off the top four but 16 points behind runaway leaders Man.City for whom Sterling has scored two last minute winners in the last two games. I think the Champion's spot is spoken for.

The good news is that unless we lose to Watford at the weekend by five more we are safe in 7th. for at least another week. Such are the straws I clutch at currently.

After only just over a third of the season panic is not called for. Our Champions' League form is outstanding but our Premiership form is not. We've been here before and moved on.

And so it went at Leicester. Plenty of possession, shots and corners but little inspiration until the re-appearance of Erik Lamela,  double hipster and new dad. A heartening 15 minute cameo that should put others to shame.

Many doubted his return; asserted that he hadn't been missed; muttered dark rumours of drug addiction  and worse. Well he's back with an assist and more dancing invention than Diaghilev: on a football pitch anyway.

His return should spark up the team and make the competition for starting places more lively.

We made three clear cut chances, all missed and went down to two top class finishes by Mahrez and Vardy. Lloris was a spectator except for retrieving the ball from the net, twice.

Eriksen and, would you believe, Llorente missed the proverbial sitters late on and would you believe Sissoko missed one in the first half before they scored. Believe, believe

We created chances but didn't take them until Lamela came on the scene and within three minutes had set up Harry Kane. 79 minutes and game on. But apart from Erik getting the inevitable yellow and the missed chances that was it.

We need Hercule Poirot to investigate what  Kane does to his striker rivals beverages in the canteen before games. Soldado, Janssen and now Llorente all falling to the Curse of Harry's Back-up.

Mauricio Pochettino lambasted the players for slow starts, lack of effort and poor attitude but surely most of that is his responsibility. We went through a similar dip last year but our marvelous home form is not likely to be repeated.

The Project seems to have temporarily stalled with Mauricio's magic not quite working. Injuries and loss of form are disrupting our stride and we need to get back it quickly or a relatively benign set of fixtures will be wasted.

Perhaps the defection of Walker and the thoughts of Danny Rose have unsettled the squad. The dropping of Son and continuing selection of Sissoko is puzzling too. We need to thrash someone.

Meanwhile the Manchesters stride ahead and even top four is looking a stretch. At this point I'd settle for the Europa and you can all laugh at me at the end of the season if it turns out better.

The Happy Clapper in me says it's all under control: the long-time Spurs fan that never likes to waste a good chance to panic is getting a little worried. The competition is fiercer this year and we still have Wembley and the CL to cope with.

Jimmy's Video Spòt:
 Kyle Walker Peters (20) PL debut. The forgotten man's impressive start to his senior career. looks good to me but Mauricio must know better as 'Bad Boy' Serge and Kieran seems to have the right back sown up.
Could have saved ourselves 23 million if you ask me.


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Spurs cannot be serious .


Focus on the plan.
Now you see it: now you don't.
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The JIMMYG2 Column 
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If there were any animals involved in Spurs Premiership matches other than human ones our games would have been banned years ago. The cruelty involved in supporting Spurs is just too much.

The recent success in the Champions' League only makes things worse. How is it possible to draw with Real Madrid away, beat them at home, beat Borussia Dortmund twice to top our group with a game to go and fail to beat West Brom?

How is it possible among all these brilliant performances to capitulate to West Ham in the Caraboa Cup, and lose to Arsenal and Manchester United. The mind game Hunt Saboteurs are having a field day.

How can Christian Eriksen play like a genius for Denmark as recently as last week and turn in such a dire performance as he did against West Brom. And don't get me started on the highs and lows of Dele Alli.

How is a fan and blogger supposed to pick a path through the minefield that is Spurs form, results and performance levels. From despair, to elation and bemusement all in a single week. Roller Coaster comes to mind

How can Davison Sanchez be tipped for heroic stardom in one breath and then be cast as the villain in the next. From the best thing since sliced bread to toast in the twinkle of Mauricio's eye.

How is it that Lloris has made the same mistake three times in week to gift opponents goals by poor positioning or failure to advance from his line. The latter an uncharacteristic error; the former not so much.

From our hero and captain that for some years we worried that we might lose to the Big Boys to an error ridden figure that we might not care if we did and ironically one that nobody might want.

I was praying that the ball might stop before it entered the net but it was not our lucky day

I am Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered for those of you who remember the Ella Fitzgerald's classic from the late 40's.(Although I'm told that Lady Gaga has made a recent cover).

I suspect that Tony Alderweireld would have made a well timed intervention to dispossess Rondon on Saturday and therein might lie the root of many of our defensive problems One clean sheet in nine games recently.

But it doesn't explain the lifeless performance against Arsenal, the fighting display against Dortmund and the mind numbingly clueless one against West Brom. Almost everyone that played well in midweek disappeared on Saturday

Apart from Eriksen who went missing to an extent in both; Son who was lively all week and Harry Kane who did what it says on the tin, the others are a real conundrum. Dembele made a difference, Llorente did not.

Winks  and Jan went off presumably with knocks, the rotated full backs weren't as good as the pair from midweek  so was it just tiredness generally or has the Champions' League turned our heads?

Or have we even prioritised the CL?  If we have it's a pretty big long shot. Mauricio seems to have written off the title race so perhaps the focus really is on the big prize. As  John McEnroe once said 'You cannot be serious'.

Or is the simpler explanation that we don't play as well against Bus-Parkers  and Time-Wasters. Do they sap the energy, and ours with it, from the game. Do they confuse the game plan

We should be able to, we're getting enough practise but we lacked the ingenuity, pace and speed of thought and movement to make 70% possession pay. Especially when Dele and Eriksen are not on their game.

Ironically against W:Brom it was ex Spur Jake Livermore who put the screws on Dele for their opener after just 4 minutes. A slack error compounded by Sanchez and Lloris.

Once again though it was his assist that set up Harry as he did in midweek. One of two against Dortmund for the perplexing young man.

With a very late penalty win for Arsenal against Burnley, they go ahead of us into the top four; an own goal victory for Manchester Utd against Brighton, and a late winner for City, the weekend results weren't kind.

Only Liverpool's draw with Chelsea prevented a complete results disaster this weekend. Mind you we left it late ourselves.Next up Leicester on Tuesday and I am making no predictions for this one.Do you blame me?

We are suffering injuries and knocks to key players especially Toby and Victor Wanyama. Danny Rose wasn't even on the bench on Saturday, Lamela is well below the radar, Dembele is being handled with extreme care.

Thanks I feel much better now.  After 13 games we have the same points as last year and Arsenal are 1 point above us. They were 4 points ahead last year and Liverpool were 6.

Sanchez career won't end with one mistake; Lloris is still a top class keeper; Eriksen and Dele will thrill us all again soon; form is temporary class is permanent.COYS.

Breaking News. Barcelona target Eriksen not Coutinho.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Sorry couldn't find a shorter one so 6 minutes of frustration it is. Looks as if after Rondon's goal there was only one team in it. Well there was but chances went cap in hand.

They seem to have edited out Dele's mugging by Livermore that led to the goal. Must be a contract thing. Unfortunately a really clear picture.

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Monday, 20 November 2017

How many blips make a trend?

That's not a trend. It's a series of blips.
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The Jimmy G2 Column.
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Well that was disappointing . Actually it was awful, verging on the disgraceful. It was clear in the first few minutes who wanted this more and it wasn't us. Surprisingly only new boy Davison Sanchez stepped up.

With four players coming back from injury and Harry Kane still heavily strapped, Eriksen still on cloud nine after his hat-trick for Denmark and some marginal decision by ex Spurs fan Dean there are excuses if you want them.

My upset radar was alerted  when I saw the midfield pairing of the two Moussas. Dembele has lost his mojo through persistent injuries and Sissoko never had one in the first place.

He was by no means the worst player on Saturday. But he plays like a driver-less snow-plough on a steep incline. But at least he put in some effort against Arsenal.

Perhaps injury was why Harry Winks didn't start but we missed his quickness of thought and range of passing from the start. Where we weren't poor we were ordinary and again Mauricio was slow to plug the holes in the sinking ship.

Arsene must be wondering why he hasn't started his potentially potent strike force more often: Sanchez (A) Lacazette and Ozil all turned up, tuned in and turned on. Harry Kane, Dele and Eriksen did not.

The Arsenal trio might not see out the season with Alexis Sanchez rumoured to be off to City and Ozil still not appreciated by the fans which might cause further disruption.

We were certainly contenders in my mind at the start of the season, Wembley notwithstanding. But after a few games it was clear that City the first of the big spenders were going to be hard to catch.

Now increasingly the second and third of the big spenders are looking more firmly entrenched. Fourth is shaping up to be a three way scrap. Not only did we lose the NLD but all our top six rivals won in style.

One point covers four clubs in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th place and we are closer to Burnley in 7th. than we are to Chelsea the club immediately above us in 3rd after almost a third of the season

Man City..GD.. 33....Points..34....Unbeaten so far.
Man.Utd..GD... 21....Points..26....Patchy but with Pogba and Ibrahimovic back from injury.
Chelsea....GD...13....Points. 25....Won last four.
Spurs........GD.. 11....Points. 23....Wembley factor. 2 losses in last 5.
Liverpool.GD.. 11....Points. 22....Won last 3.
Arsenal....GD.... 6.....Points. 22....Patchy but they beat us.
Burnley....GD....3.....Points. 22.....Won last 3.

Then a four point gap to Watford.

The West Ham capitulation was a shock; the away losses to rivals Man.Utd and Arsenal a worrying trend. One bad day at the office can be written off but three and it's time to at least look up the auditors' number.

Now I have been described as a happy clapper, complacent, a loser, not able to see the wood for the trees, an ostrich, but the financial pressure to spend, to increase wages and to win trophies are forces many fans find it hard to ignore.

Not for me personally. I'm still clapping although not quite so happy as I was before.

With Danny Rose again on the naughty chair it makes me begin to idly speculate who will be next out of the door after him if we fail to make the Champions' League this season.

Will the promise of the new stadium  and its increased income be enough to keep the likes of Dele and Eriksen and Pochettino on board as new offers begin to pile up. If the project stalls will they keep the faith.

At the moment we are building not just a stadium but a team under a top class manager committed to youth and our own. We must not let impatience and the pursuit of the False Trophy Gods interrupt our progress.

How many blips make a trend? At what point on a trend do we press the panic bottom? Clearly we are not there yet and tomorrow against Dortmund in the CL we can  clear our heads, if we can be bothered having already qualified.

Next up in the Premiership on Saturday are West Brom. at home who have had so many bad days at the office lately that they have sacked Tony Pulis and hover just above the drop zone.

Ideal opponents to put us back on winning ways again you would have thought. But it's a funny old game as we know and we need to set about it in a more determined fashion than we did on Saturday.

But beware cornered rats and new manager bounces. I'm looking forward to looking back and laughing at this little November wobble.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Just to take your mind off things here's us beating Dortmund a little earlier. We lived a little dangerously but definitely played. Good luck tomorrow and lets see some youth on the bench if not on the pitch.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Spurs clean up.

Pomp and Glory against the  Champions' League Champions
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 After the Lord Mayor's Show
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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One of the great features in the 'Old Days' after some equestrian spectacular like the Lord Mayor's show: the ancient Gilded Coach pulled by Six Shire horses; mounted police and Horse Guards escort was the sight and smell of the clear up.

It gave rise to the popular expression 'After the Lord Mayor's show' meaning the let down or the anti climax after a great event.The brooms and shovels which removed all traces of the event were an inevitable part of the occasion.

You can see where I'm going with this I hope. After the wonderful win against Real Madrid, two goals from Dele and a fine performance all round comes a humdrum showing against bottom of the League Crystal Palace.

Palace have 4 points and 4 goals, none away from home, after 11 games. Real Madrid have won two consecutive  Champions' League titles and we took 4 points in our two games against them.

Now having said all that it's my firm belief that even Palace could have beaten Real on the basis of our games against the two clubs. They defended and broke well and could have won barring heroics by our 3rd choice keeper Gazzaniga.

But in terms of expectations Real was a challenge and Palace a foregone conclusion. How could we lose? The truth is that Spurs like to keep us guessing even now. In the event we won and three points is exactly three points.

It's obviously a London thing because their single draw was against W.Ham and their only win, against Chelsea. We managed to avoid their Capital Scalp Cabinet by snatching a win with a fine Son goal.

It was a beautiful curler on the hour and he became Asia's leading Premiership scorer on 20 goals. Not that he played well but goals cure all ills. He was in good company with only Dier and Verts leading the clean -up party

Our 2nd. reserve keeper Argentinian Gazzaniga was MOM which always tells a story. Even then he seriously misjudged a wild dash from goal and Zaha missed an open goal.

We had 2 shots on goal and scored. Palace had three and lost 1-0. We were lethargic after the exertions of Wednesday night and, without the lively mind and movement of Dele, uninspired.

Winks and Harry went off with knocks and join Dele on the sidelines for the upcoming friendlies for England. They should be safe there until the NLD the following weekend.

Danny Rose made an appearance but the excitement generated by his return was not justified by his impact on the game. Aurier in for Trippier was poor and made two bad errors that might have cost at least a couple of points

Eriksen, without Dele, with Harry Kane labouring and Son buzzing but not stinging until his goal looked lost. Llorente's cameo placed him firmly in the Soldado, Janssen tradition of our recent striker signings.

Sissoko started and Dembele came on for Winks at half time but neither made much impact. We played poorly and won which they say is the mark of a good team.

We failed to win in our first three home games at Wembley in the Premiership but have won our last three.The clearing up operation was completed with 30 minutes to go and all hosed down in good time.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Let's hear it for Mauricio Pochettino scoring for Espanyol. The man that makes the team more than the sum of its parts.

Not the foul on Michael Owen in the World Cup but a moment of glory for The Man. circa 1998/99.
He's come a long way and had a haircut since then.


Friday, 3 November 2017

An echo of glory

Dele and Christian as you've never seen them before!
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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So we are not just in it, but in it to win it according to Mauricio. Not specifically the Champions' League but just everything in general.The next level is winning things. Beating Real Madrid is just a start

As Bill Nicholson said:  “If you don’t win anything, you have had a bad season.” and a lot of fans view our current progress with a mixture of impatience at its slowness and envy at the achievements of others.

But for the moment I am euphoric with the view from the other side of the moon and Real Madrid are as sick as parrots. Last season we were out of the Champions league with two games to go as Mr. Pochettino observed.

This season we are through with two games to spare. Progress by any measure from the so-called 'Group of Death' but not enough for him or for that matter Bill Nicholson.

It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe…. we’re nothing. We’re nothing.” Another box double ticked and underlined.

We outplayed an admittedly off form and possibly over the hill Madrid side, taking our chances in style and denying them more than a couple of sights of goal.

We even coped with an early injury to Toby which necessitated a reshuffle and the appearance of Moussa SissokoEric Dier went into the back three and we barely missed a heartbeat.Actually I missed several.

There is so much to praise in attitude and performance. But for Real Madrid it was truly 'Death in the (very late) Afternoon' at  our 'lucky' arena before 83,782 aficionados, mainly ours.

Our whole brave band of toreros performed well and there were several candidates for Matador de Toros (Killer of Bulls or 'Man of the Match' in English. Trippier, Verts,Winks and especially Dele, among the leading contenders.

We also ticked another Bill Nicholson box: we didn't just win: “It’s no use just winning, we’ve got to win well.” The only pity was that it wasn't the Final. But it well might be. See you all in Kiev in May.

We proceed to the knockout stages with the players carried shoulder high and Dele and Christian sharing the ears and the tail. (Sorry got carried away there after our moment of truth)

And Mauricio in stressing winning things and not just competing picks up another theme of Bill “Spurs have got to be the best in the land, not the second best.” We're getting there, we're getting there.

Dele struck half way through the first half sliding in a Trippier volleyed cross after a fine ball out to the right by Winks. His second after an hour was a fine solo run from a Dier pass. His shot diverted b  Sergio Ramos.

The 'coup de grace' was administered by Cristian just after the hour following a fine counter attack involving Dele and Harry Kane. Ronaldo scored a consolation goal with ten minutes to go but we saw out the game.

The cries of 'ole' were pushing it just a little but justified in the circumstances. In fact Dele missed an easy header and should have had a hat-trick. Winks was impressive in the company of Kroos and Modric.

Trippier now has 13 assists in 2017, 6 more than any other defender. Dele is back with us in style and Harry Kane didn't draw undue attention to himself by scoring. What's not to like?

Only worry for me was the hot-headed behaviour of Dembele especially in the light of the 'eye gouge' on Costa last year. Gives a whack gets some back and then loses it completely.

He and Ramos both lucky not to be sent off.

Real Madrid have gone 5yrs (30games) undefeated in the Champions' League and this was their worst defeat since losing 2-0 to Juventus ten years ago. We are unbeaten so far in the competition.(WWDW).

I expect big changes at Real next season. Zidane will probably survive but they have a new wave of youngsters and Marcelo, Ronaldo, Ramos, Benzema, Pepe, Nacho and others could all on the chop list.

Kroos and Modric after recent displays are not immune. Of the ever injured Bale I will say nothing.

I hope we settle in NWHL as well as we have at Wembley. All those stories about spending two years at Wembley. 'A consummation devoutly to be wished for' as Bill from Stratford once said in his pome about Toby.

My favourite quote from our manager and inspiration, the one that didn't get knighted is:

''It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory''.

Runners up in the CL in May it is then.

 Jimmy's Video Spot.
Just for posterity all the goals and highlights. Some lovely running off the ball by Eriksen, Harry Kane and Dele.

Tripps all on his own out on the wing. Marcelo gone walkabout.What a European night to remember. 

I think he means Zidane not Casemiro at the start and Marcelo not Mascherano who plays for Barcelona. Nice work if you can get it.


Monday, 30 October 2017

No Big Deal

It's a six horse race. 

The JimmyG2 Column.
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Ten games in, just 28 to go, and the first checkpoint for our progress. We finished 2nd last year and at this point we were 5th. with a goal difference of 9 and a tally of 20 points.

This year with the added burden of playing our 'home' games at Wembley we are 3rd. with a goal difference of 12 and the same points tally and the Wembley 'hoodoo' vanquished at every level. So why the long face?

Well we are further behind the leaders than we were last year but unless we go out and spend 2/300 million pounds like Man.City, and match their wages we are always likely to be.

They are 8 points ahead of us after 10 games and have a goal difference of 29. Certainly a whirlwind start but the top six will undoubtedly all take points off each other. We need to play our part in this.

We have improved the squad in the recent window within our means and the return of Lamela, Rose, Dembele, Sanchez and Wanyama should give us further impetus, though rumours are rife that Victor is out long term.

Losing to W.Ham and Manchester United in the same week doesn't help to keep a positive outlook. Surrendering a two goal lead to fall out of the Carabao Cup at home to West Ham adds insult to injury.

Playing well enough to hold Man.Utd for 80 mins at Old Trafford and then losing 1-0 once again to a general defensive lapse having had the chance just prior to go ahead merely prolongs the agony.

If Dele capitalises on his own astute movement and converts Eriksen's most, and perhaps only, incisive pass of the game we probably defend a narrow lead for the last 15 minutes and win or at worst draw.

 But he goes with the wrong foot and puts it wide. Earlier Sissoko had alerted the Manchester Airport Traffic Controllers with a shot that registered on their radar screens rather than put the ball in the net  when well placed.

Jose had bigged us up before the game. 'Best team in the League' and all that: a win win for him. If they lost it was only to be expected and if he won it made his team even better by beating the best team in the Premiership.

We played quite well without anyone being outstanding. Eriksen was slow to get up to speed and his first four passes went astray. Winks had a good first half and then ran out of steam.

The defence played well until collectively conceding the goal. Which is bit like saying 'It's a great car except for the engine'. A simple header by Lukaku and a scuffed finish by substitute Martial whowas allowed to run free.

We were the only team in the top six not to win this weekend  but maintained our position though the pack is closing in. Next weekend  we play Crystal Palace which might give us some hope as four of the top six play each other.

Before that on Wednesday we have the CL game against Real Madrid who lost yesterday to newly promoted Catalonia team  Girona in La Liga. There was a frenzied atmosphere given the political situation in a tiny stadium.

Girona pressed even after they went ahead and Real were without Bale and Kaylor Navas. Isco was their standout best player and Ronaldo is off form. They are vulnerable this season and even a draw might ensure our progress.

So win both this week which is by no means impossible and the long face disappears. Poch. will have some serious match planning to do and it partly depends on the availability of Harry Kane and the fitness of several other players.

The statistic that was stressed  after the Man.Utd game was quite startling: only one win in 17 away games against teams in the top six. I feel a frown coming on. Neigh lad it's just not good enough. Sorry.

But as President of the 'Take a Draw Now' Society against rivals we have to turn the losses into draws at least to improve our record. (Played 17: W1. D5: L11) There are 13 other teams where the win is  essential.

I always like to stress the positive and look on the bright side and there are plenty of stats to cheer us up: Sissoko is improving; injured players are returning; Llorente is due a goal; Aurier didn't get booked or sent off in his last game.

Son is getting quicker; Harry is getting better; Winks is the find of the Millenium; Poch is the best manager in the world; Lamela will make a difference; the Stadium grows by the day.

And even with these recent blips and a couple of bad days at the office we are still third.

So cheer up everybody: it's no big deal


Jimmy's Video Spot:
Their goal a catalogue of errors and failure to mark and track.  Dele's miss: he made it by his movement and missed it for some reason. Fine ball by Eriksen. Lloris iffy on at least 3 occasions