Happy Thursday, Hoddlers! Jake’s on his way back from a conference, so you have yours truly filling in as he wings his way back to America’s heartland.
I didn’t watch yesterday’s match live. Contrary to what you might believe, I actually have a full time day job, which makes watching football during midweek matches especially difficult. (It also hopefully puts the number of articles that I’m able to write on a daily basis in some context... I’m highly efficient.) But I was able to watch a replay on Fox Soccer 2Go in the evening after the kids went to bed and I had a little time to myself.
We’re all still processing that loss, myself included, and it may be a while before I can put together a coherent analysis of it. However, I do have some thoughts, which I’ll share here in the Hoddle for you this morning.
This match emphasizes why we need Moose.
Maybe Dembele isn’t 90 minutes match fit, or maybe this was a tactical decision to start Sonny after he torched Stoke last Saturday, but once Mousa Dembele came into the side against Monaco, the midfield changed for the better. Even if he is only 45 minutes fit at the present time, some of Spurs’ best chances in the second half came when he was bossing the midfield in his rightful place beside Dier. Now that his Premier League suspension is over, he needs to slot immediately back in the lineup against Sunderland.
That’s not to say that Dele was poor in the pivot, but you could see the difference in his play and Spurs’ chances when he was moved into his natural position at the #10 in the second half. He’s just infinitely more comfortable in a more forward position.
Monaco were set up well, and executed perfectly.
Leonardo Jardim set Monaco up to defend resolutely and hit Spurs on the counter, and that’s exactly what they did. They were superbly organized, and the attacking tandem of Radamel Falcao and Bernardo Silva were quite good in the opportunities they had. Monaco had two big chances to score in that game, and they put away both of them, with really fantastic shots in both instances. That first goal from Silva was a phenomenal strike, and Lemar’s goal was fortunate but well executed. Spurs may feel unlucky, but Monaco earned that win.
Ben Davies wasn’t a good fit for this match.
It’s not like we could do anything about it with Danny Rose injured, but I thought in this match in particular Rose’s dynamism and speed would’ve been extremely helpful to negate Monaco’s speed. Davies isn’t as fast as Rose, which makes it that much harder for him to get back against a counter-attacking side that features fast players like Silva and Falcao. Davies wasn’t a tire fire – I didn’t think any one player was especially awful today, even Son – but this match was not set up to his strengths.
Spurs are fine, don’t panic.
It’s so tempting to look at this result and to get angry or distressed, but I’m not sure there’s any reason to do so. Football is a game that is played with extremely fine margins of error. Spurs lost to two very well taken goals, and on balance played quite well against a Monaco team that was much better than the one they trounced last season. Nothing in this match made me revise my opinion that this is a very good Tottenham Hotspur team. What has been revised is my opinion of this Champions League group, which I think is significantly better than what I had first thought. It does put a rather fine point upon the trip to Moscow later this month, though.
No links today because it’s late and I just watched Spurs lose to a team that they thumped in the Europa League last season and I’m tired. Put your links in the comments, or your semi-coherent Champions League takes that didn’t make it into Ed’s post-match thread.