Tottenham Hotspur got their second win on the spin today at the City Ground, dispatching Nottingham Forest 0-2 thanks to goals from Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski. But it wasn’t anything close to champagne football. It was an ugly, ugly match, full of fouls and grappling, yellow and red cards, match officials swallowing their whistles, and grind-it-out ball.
Brennan Johnson was subbed off in the first half under concussion protocol after clashing heads with Willy Boly, Yves Bissouma was sent off with a straight red for a shin-high tackle on Ryan Yates in the second half, and Destiny Udogie picked up his fifth yellow of the season, meaning he will be suspended for Tottenham’s next match.
That said, they won! Spurs ground out a 2-0 victory that felt a lot worse than the result might indicate. It was a super annoying match for a number of reasons. Here are my match notes.
- Deki was a big part of Spurs’ offense in the first part of the match, really controlling the tempo and getting balls into the box. Exciting to see him continue to develop there.
- I really expected Sonny to “Trippierize” Nico Williams a lot in this match and it looked like that would happen early on, but Forest settled into the match and Spurs didn’t get forward as often as I expected.
- Taking off Brennan Johnson was the right call, he was clearly concussed and bleeding. Bringing Oliver Skipp on as his replacement though? Spurs’ creativity trailed off significantly after Deki moved to the right though Skippy did have a couple of nice moves in the second half.
- That said, Spurs created several big chances in that match, and Deki was involved in nearly all of them. Richy’s goal was neat — a beautiful ball into the box from Deki, put it on a plate for Richarlison who made an excellent run and lept higher than either of the Forest defenders on him. Deki’s goal was just good awareness to latch onto a terrible pass from the back and fire it past Turner. Hell of a game.
- On Richarlison — the evidence that maybe we’ve just never seen him not-injured while he’s been at Spurs is growing steadily. That’s three goals in two games now.
- I’m not sure what the difference is between the first half and second — tactics? Forest adjustment? The official not calling one of the approximately 123,298 fouls committed against Spurs? But Forest had most of the ball in the second half, made Spurs look like chumps for a while, and I didn’t like it.
- I’m not sure anyone had a particularly great match besides Kulusevski and probably Richarlison. And Vicario, I guess?
- Yves Bissouma’s challenge was awful and he was rightfully sent off. Came in high, studs up, caught Yates on the knee. That’s a four match ban for him, which means now eight matches suspended this season, and thanks to his participation in AFCON he might not play another match for us until the end of February.
Michael OliverWhoever the hell officiated that match completely lost control of this match. Uncalled fouls all over the pitch, weak yellows, and reds given as yellows (looking at the Murillo challenge on Pedro Porro). There’s playing with an edge and there’s dangerous play and this match veered towards the latter by both sides quite often.
- Fantastic match from Alejo Veliz today. Those five seconds of action will really kick-start his game and I expect he’ll be banging them in from here on out.
- I didn’t expect to be massively annoyed by a 2-0 away win in the Premier League, but here we are. Next match home to Everton on December 23 and I fully expect to see Dele’s return to football on that day.