A Tale of Two Halves.
It really came down to finishing.
Spurs started very unsettled as United came out with the expected Old Trafford energy. Despite a couple of cringe-worthy early gaffes, Spurs lucked their way through the opening 20-30 minutes. Danny Rose’s poor back-pass let Lukaku in on Lloris, but Romelu pulled the shot across goal and wide. Dembele also looked a bit sluggish, trying to get used to playing a full half. United also generated a few more nice chances for Lukaku and Fred, but neither could finish. Lucas Moura had a penalty shout (that probably wasn’t). Dele had a couple opportunities after poor United giveaways, but he dawdled on one and had his shot blocked on the second. As the half ended, Spurs were thrilled with a 0-0.
As the second half started, Spurs went on the attack. Just a few minutes in, Trippier placed a corner into space behind Harry Kane who shook his man and headed his first ever Old Trafford goal into the top corner as De Gea could only watch. Only a few minutes later, Christian Eriksen broke free down the right, found an open Lucas Moura just inside the 18 on a pull-back, and Moura buried it. Tottenham’s defense and midfield both settled down. Toby and Jan had great games, and Dembele had a much improved second half. United pressed hard to cut the lead, and Spurs counted with an out ball to Moura whose underrated speed and touch got him behind United where he put the game away, beating De Gea a second time. 3-0.
Its just Spurs, guys.
- Lucas Moura. After watching him on the US Preseason Tour, he looked a lot more comfortable with his teammates and in Poch’s system. He’s really benefited from all of the attention that Kane has generated. Poch has played him next to Harry where his speed and elusiveness can be utilized when Kane holds the ball up in the attacking third. He’s also pressed really well, forcing turnovers in all three games. Don’t look now, but he’s tied for the league lead in goals. This is the player Spurs hoped and thought they were getting. Long live the Poch Preseason.
- Toby. Talk about seeing everything you want dangled before your eyes. United have struggled at centerback to start the year and having to watch Toby after almost (maybe? probably? idk) buying him a few weeks ago is just salt in the wound. While he wasn’t the most progressive in attack, Toby played very well and made a handful of last-ditch efforts to rescue Spurs from dangerous situations. I know he’s peaked and its not like Spurs to hang onto guys too long, but might he have another contract in him? This round definitely went to Mr. Alderweireld. Your move, Daniel Levy.
- Slow. Another slow start on the road for Spurs against a top side. It has been their hoodoo to blink when the lights get bright in big games. Yes, they do settle down generally, but there are still some growing/confidence points to improve. It easily could have been 2-0 rather early and I’m not sure they could have picked the lock of a whole fleet of Mourinho-parked buses. Fortunately, United couldn’t buy a finish, and Poch broke through to them at halftime, showing the Soccer World that Tottenham’s ceiling is higher yet.
- Kane. Another talking point. Another stadium vanquished. What a pretty goal it was. Perfectly placed, upper 90, losing a defender on a set piece… He’s just a complete striker.
- Lucky. United fans will ramble that it could have been 2-0 and the game would have been different. They’re right. And if Josh Metellus catches a ball that hits him in the chest, Michigan probably beats Ohio State. However, by the end of the game, Kane and Dele both missed sitters in the second half, and the score could have been 5-0, too. The difference is that Spurs took advantage of their chances and United did not. Lucky/Unlucky; in the end, it seemed like a wash.
- Danny Rose. It was great to see him start an EPL game, again. He’s be injured, upset about money, fighting with the club/staff, but seemingly enough things have been worked out and he’s still around. And Spurs need him. Its impossible to go through a four competition (or even, like, two) season with one left back. He did look rusty and made a couple of plays that he would like to have back, but by the time he was subbed off for Davies, Danny earned his minutes and will probably push for more starts in the future. Nice to see fences being mended.
- Hugo. My other jobs require a lot of me at this time of year, so I could not write a piece on Hugo’s indiscretion last Friday (or even read every specific detail.) Unfortunate that. Last guy on the team I would have expected it from. Should he have played? My initial thought was ‘No.’ I don’t necessarily feel differently, but I do not have the experience dealing with that sort of thing, and I’ve never really had an issue with how Poch has done his job on any account, really. He knows the situation better than I do, obviously. The fan inside of me is glad he played, I guess, haha. Either way, he was great, again. He left hand save on Lukaku right after Tottenham’s opening goal was perfect. He also also set his wall correctly and read the free kick well being exactly where he needed to be. His rush out on Lukaku after the backpass put a lot of pressure on Romelu and definitely played a role in forcing it into an off-balance attempt. He’s been top notch this season. Just call me next time and I’ll find a way to get you home.