I think what I'm going to say is going to go away from the #narrative a little bit here, but I thought Tottenham Hotspur played pretty well in this match. I also don't think that the penalty decision that resulted in the winning goal was all that harsh, but more on that later.
The first half was probably a bit more back and forth than Spurs and manager Andre Villas-Boas would have liked. Hull City manager Steve Bruce put 5 at the back against Tottenham and for much of the game it worked quite well. In the early going both Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend were neutralized by the fullbacks and Lewis Holtby struggled to find gaps and holes in the Hull defense.
The best chances for both teams in the first half came from set pieces. For Spurs, Paulinho touched his shot just over following an excellent delivery from Holtby. On the other end, Tom Huddlestone delivered a few dangerous balls, but Lloris was not really tested.
The second half brought Mousa Dembele on for the yellow carded Sandro, but Spurs still failed to break down the Hull defense. The breakthrough finally came in the 80th minute following a handball by Ahmed Elmohamady. The announcers and many on Twitter judged the decision to be quite harsh, but in a match filled with odd and sometimes controversial calls, I felt that this one was less so. Elmohamady clearly had his arm away from his body and the ball clearly struck it. The argument could be made for a ball-to-hand situation, but Elmohamady has to be smarter in that situation and keep his arms tight to his body.
Roberto Soldado duly dispatched the resulting penalty, giving the new signing his 6th goal in all competitions. The minutes following the goal were marred by a nasty fall over the advertising boardings by Andros Townsend, who eventually returned with a heavily bandaged wrist. Hull attempted to apply some late pressure, but a late free kick from Tom Huddlestone went well wide.
A few quick thoughts:
- Credit to Hull. Bruce set them up really well and they got some good performances. I thought Maynor Figueroa and Tom Huddlestone were particularly good. Hull were disciplined and hard to break down. They're not a bad team and getting a win against them, regardless of the score is good.
- Tottenham still really struggle with chance creation. Playing with Lennon and Townsend as inverted wingers in the first half really clogged the space. The second half was a bit better, but we could have done with a bit less direct play and a more creative influence from wide areas.
- That said, Townsend was probably Spurs best player, again. He really struggled in the first 20-30 minutes, because Figueroa was right on top of him, but he eventually adjusted and he put in some dangerous balls.
- Holtby played well. I wish he'd shot sometimes though.
- The criticism that the announce team leveled on Soldado was largely unwarranted. Sure, the Spanish striker isn't going to create his own shot, but with the penalty area so clogged there was only so much he could do. He got into some good positions and played some nice little flick-ons that, oddly, his teammates didn't seem prepared for.
- Not having the pace of Danny Rose on the left hurt. Jan Vertonghen is a capable left back, but having a speedy overlapping fullback might have helped stretch the Hull defense a little more.
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