In my post match review of the first Citeh debacle two months ago I highlighted a series of individual mistakes which lead to their first two goals. Last night the two individual mistakes came – not from players – but from officials, but before I analyse them a few words about the game in general.
Sergio Aguero has got to be the best player in the Premier League at the moment.
How he did not have a hat-trick within the first thirty minutes last night is beyond me, he hit the post, scored one and then only a magnificent save from Lloris denied him. With Dzeko also creating, but missing the target, it is a wonder the game was not out of reach before we came to any controversial moment in the game.
Citeh dominated the first thirty minutes – we could not get anywhere near the ball – there was no-one able to get in and get hold of it. However when we were finally able to get stuck in, they didn´t like it, and Yo-Yo and Aguero were both booked for silly fouls, with the latter perhaps lucky to be on the pitch when he had eyes only for Dawson and then feigned a head injury as our skipper headed clear.
And as we got more into it, Rose in particular began to shine. It was his run that was brought to a halt by a foul which lead to the free kick and that first fateful moment. Was Dawson offside when Erikseen played the ball in? Not if the video evidence is to be relied upon. Was Adebayor? Again same answer. Both were level at least at the moment of impact, but could the assistant on the far side see when the ball was played? Almost certainly not so he had to guess.
Did Adebayor make contact as the ball came over? If he had done then Dawson would have been offside – but evidence of this is inconclusive. The goal was ruled out but we still do not know who was offside as the officials are not held to account.
In footballing terms it was only ten minutes, in reality closer to half an hour, and along came the next incident, Rose scrambling back made a lunge, made clear contact, a good tackle – boot on top of ball – and the ball spun away for a corner. That Dzeko came tumbling down is irrelevant – Rose got to the ball first – and the referee seemed to point to the corner only to be overruled by his assistant.
And then we had triple jeopardy. Not only did we concede another goal through an incorrectly awarded penalty, but we had to play the remaining 40 minutes or so with only ten men and – as a result of the harsh and totally inappropriate red card – we stand to lose Rose for the next game at least and possibly even the next three matches depending on the reason the referee has stated in his match report. (Although there is no official word as yet rumours on Sky Sports and the BBC suggest that an appeal may be made.)
Two nil down and with only ten men is always going to be a big ask against any top flight team. Against Citeh it is an impossible mountain to climb. It should have been 1-1 and we still may not have won but at least we would have had a fighting chance – that chance was taken away from us by two appalling decisions.
Chasing the game we got caught again and again but we pressed forward and even managed a consolation goal – though not much of a consolation.
Another heavy defeat – this time unwarranted in that we were not entirely at fault – but we are still in fifth place and within touching distance of those ahead of us. With both Le Arse and Chelski slipping up against lower teams we have to keep playing as we were prior to last night, which brings us neatly to the second of the two Cities – Hull.
Sitting uncomfortably in 13th place with 23 points – just four above the relegation zone – they have won 6 and drawn 5 of the League games this season, and with 23 games played that means they have lost 12. With 22 goals for and 29 against their average goal tally suggests a 1-1 draw may be on the cards but our away form has been exemplorary of late – five consecutive away wins – and with the Tigers short in midfield (Livermore is still currently a Tottenham player so is ineligible, while another former Spur – THudd is suspended) we should be able to continue that run.
With Dembele considered doubtful after coming off at half time, and the possibility that Rose will be suspended, changes will have to be made.
Our returning quarter of Kaboul, Vertonghen, Sandro and Paulinho were all considered for last night but it was obviously felt that they should not be risked. Now perhaps is the time for risk taking.
It may seem harsh to drop Dawson, Chiriches and Bentaleb but bringing in all four now against a team that is struggling would seem to be an ideal solution. Keep the faith in defence with Walker and Naughton (or Rose if the appeal is upheld), Eriksen, Lennon and Adebayor and see whether it makes a difference.
That then leaves the vacant position of left wing/midfield. Chadli has done it, Siggy did it last night, but neither have been truly effective, so if Townsend (my preference) or Lamela are not fit, why not give Holtby a go there – always assuming he is still a Spurs player in two days time.