Tottenham’s poor run of form continued Wednesday night as they fell 1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd.
Leverkusen were without influential captain Lars Bender, but named an otherwise-similar team to the one that largely bossed the second half of the reverse fixture.
Mousa Dembélé, whose introduction into that game helped Spurs get somewhat of a hold on the midfield, made the starting XI, while Son Heung-Min was named up front in place of Vincent Janssen.
Spurs got off to a sloppy start — Leverkusen’s press made passing out of the back an adventure on several occasions, but the visitors couldn’t turn the pressure into any clear cut chances.
Pochettino was forced to switch things up midway through the first half, sending Janssen on to replace Dembélé after 30 minutes. Mouse walked off slightly gingerly, so one would assume he was injured, though it wasn’t clear exactly what the problem was.
The switch to 4-1-4-1 ending up injecting some life into the side. Eriksen finally got a shot on target, stinging Bernd Leno’s palms with a speculative shot from 25 yards out.
But it was Leverkusen who had the best chance of the half. Kyle Walker’s heavy touch presented the ball to Julian Brandt. His shot was blocked by a brilliant sliding challenge from Jan Vertonghen, who managed to pop up and deflect Javier Hernandez’s just wide.
Tottenham started the second half brightly. After some quick interplay with Son, Dele Alli worked his way into the box where the defender just barely clipped his foot, but the referee waved off his calls for a penalty. Eriksen picked up the rebound, and his effort skidded just past the post with Leno rooted to the spot.
Spurs nearly gifted Leverkusen the lead on the hour mark. Eric Dier’s attempted header back to Hugo Lloris came up woefully short. Hernandez had two efforts at goal — the first blocked by Vertonghen, before Lloris gathered the second right off the line.
The German side did find the back of the net soon after. A speculative shot took a deflection straight into the path of Kevin Kampl, who neatly tucked the ball away from close range.
The goal took the air out out of the crowd (a record at 85,512, so we’ve got that going for us I guess) and Spurs looked lethargic. Still, they came within inches of equalizing after Alli won a free-kick just outside the box. Dier hammered his shot against the underside of the bar — the rebound fell to Janssen but he couldn’t squeeze it home.
The game finished 1-0, meaning Spurs have now gone six games without a win in all competitions, scoring just three goals in that period. The lack of a scoring punch is particularly worrying — the return of Harry Kane can’t come soon enough.
- Thankfully this group has been fairly tight, so we’re not completely out of the running. We’ll likely need to win both of our remaining games (away to Monaco, home against CSKA), but if we do that we are definitely through to the knockout stage.
- I’ve tried to give Sissoko the benefit of the doubt and ignore that massive price tag, but dear me he has been poor so far this season.
- Dembélé missing the North London Derby would be bad, so here’s hoping the sub was just a precaution.
- Crossing my fingers really tight that Walker starting doesn’t mean Kieran Trippier for the NLD on Sunday.
- Ohmygod we play Arsenal on Sunday. My body is not ready.