It was not for a lack of trying, but Tottenham Hotspur failed to score for the first time since an October loss to Manchester City, once again losing 1-0 at Wembley as the team faced Manchester United.
The day started off well for Spurs, with Harry Winks combining well with Christian Eriksen and creating an opportunity for himself in the seventh minute. It was the first of a string of good goalscoring opportunities for the hosts, and the corner that followed it also ended with no reward.
As the game went on, the play was back and forth between the two sides. A few minutes after Winks’s shot, Jesse Lingard had one of his own, with Spurs back at the other end soon after. The two sides traded shots and several minute stretches of possession for the remainder of the first half, though David De Gea was left with a limited amount of work in that time.
A minute before halftime, a goal came. Spurs were left with less defensive cover in addition to the defensive players missing through injury, as Moussa Sissoko had to come off in the 43rd minute with what appears to be a groin issue. That meant that once Kieran Trippier’s turnover led to Paul Pogba picking up the ball, there was not a lot that the hosts could do. Pogba found Marcus Rashford in a wonderfully placed pass on the right side of the field, and the Englishman made a smart run and finished from an angle.
From the restart, though, Tottenham did all they could to score. Within a few minutes of the second half, De Gea had stopped opportunities from Harry Kane and Dele Alli. United made their way to the other end and came close to adding a second, but like De Gea, Hugo Lloris was able to make a few impressive saves of his own. As time went on, though, the action was almost entirely directed at De Gea. A breakthrough never came.
Spurs registered 15 shots in the second half, and while a few of them did not result in much, it was De Gea who stole the show with 11 saves in that time. Spurs’ offensive unit of Kane, Alli, Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Sissoko substitute Erik Lamela kept creating opportunities, but each and every shot was met by De Gea. The rhythm of the second half stayed that way, and the match ended with only Rashford’s goal on the sheet.
xG map for Tottenham - Manchester United— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) January 13, 2019
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To make matters worse for Spurs, the team might be adding another name to the injury list. While Jan Vertonghen started his first match in a month, recovering from a hamstring injury, Sissoko might miss a spell of time, as might Kane. The forward picked up a knock towards the end of the match, and though he walked off the field, there was a noticeable limp.
- Though Spurs ended up doing a lot right, individual performances varied. Christian Eriksen was still active, but not at his best. Harry Winks, meanwhile, probably enjoyed one of his best performances since fully working himself back into the rotation, particularly going forward.
- It was not a great day for Spurs’ defenders, particularly the fullbacks. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies did not seem suited to playing against United’s two strikers, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, and struggled to provide enough defensive cover at times in the first half.
- As has been the case for the last several matches, everyone seems to be working with a bit of fatigue. Jan Vertonghen’s recovery is good news for Spurs, but the squad is incredibly thin as things stand, and things might not get better any time soon.