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Sheffield United v Spurs, 02.07.20

PREMIER LEAGUE
THURSDAY 2ND JULY, 2020
(6pm)
SHEFFIELD UNITED 3(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)

Sheffield Utd scorers:-
Berge, 31
Mousset, 69
McBurnie, 84

Spurs scorer:-
Kane, 90

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Chris Kavanagh
Assistants:- Sian Massey-Ellis, Scott Ledger
Fourth official:- Peter Bankes
Replacement official:- Mark Jones
VAR:-Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR:- Neil Davies.

Teams:-
Sheffield Utd (3-5-2):- Henderson; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood (Capt.), Osborn, Stevens; McBurnie (sub Freeman, 90+1), McGoldrick (sub Mousset, 63)

Subs not used:- Moore; Jagielka; Rodwell; Sharp, Zivkovic

Booked:- Norwood (foul on Lucas Moura), McBurnie (Dissent after foul on Lo Celso)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier (sub Ndombele, 71), Sanchez, Dier, Davies (sub Vertonghen, 81); Sissoko (sub Dele, 71), Lo Celso; Lucas Moura, Bergwijn (sub Lamela, 56), Son; Kane

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Alderweireld; Winks, Skipp, Gedson

No Bookings

A sense of impotence overrides the injustice of VAR

In my match preview I posed the question “ Who's got their mojo for this game?" The answer was given emphatically as Chris Wilder’s weakened “Blades” mastered a Spurs side which for all their attacking flair proved to be impotent in the final third. Spurs thought they had bounced back from Berge’s opener in the best way possible but VAR decreed that the ball had reached Harry Kane off the fallen (and fouled) Lucas Moura by way of an “accidental handball”, which directs such goals to be disallowed. The sense of injustice was forgotten in the second half when Sheffield United had the cutting edge and scored two more goals. They, and not Spurs, climbed to seventh place above Arsenal. They, and not Spurs, look the more likely contenders for a place in Europe. Spurs have fallen below Arsenal, and we all know what a bad season they are having, don’t we?

I also wrote in my preview of the departure of Mauricio Pochettino whose last game in charge was the home draw against Sheffield United. Jose Mourinho was appointed and gave us some life with four wins in five games and in mid-February we were in fifth place. Now we are on the wane, and I have to ask – did we appoint a manager who is also on a downward path in his previously trophy-laden career? The pre-match talk about Spurs was that Jose had chosen an attacking line-up, and indeed it was with Lo Celso playing beside Sissoko behind the front four. The trouble was that Lo Celso was effectively neutered by Wilder’s tactics with four of his players often in close range. Sissoko became the man who often powered forward, but he also became the man who all too often signified failure in the important final third. Did Mourinho have the balance of his side right? I don’t think so.

Sheffield United were missing three key players – defender Jack O’Connell and midfielders Lundstram and Fleck. No matter. The “Blades” managed without them admirably.

After the taking of the knee which remains the standard Premier League practice, Spurs kicked off and would have been playing away from their fans had any been allowed in the ground. It was the home side who showed all the early signs of intent though, although Son won a corner on the left for Spurs before in another move he advanced through the middle but hit his intended ball for Bergwijn short. Son was nominally on the left with Bergwijn inside him and Lucas Moura. Spurs made a good break after 11 minutes through Kane and Sissoko, but the move broke down when Sissoko tried to pass to Bergwijn.

A common strategy for United is for one of their defenders to “underlap” a forward player and Basham did this to good effect racing onto McBurnie’s ball. Hugo Lloris had to be alert to race out and reach the ball before Basham.

Lucas Moura was making one or two good runs but when he passed to Aurier on his right the right back overhit and wasted the cross. Aurier did better with his next cross, hitting it low and hard into the middle where the ball rebounded off Son into Henderson’s arms. Our playmaker Lo Celso was just not getting involved. Harry Kane had a shot but it was well wide of Henderson’s left post. The shot followed a good move forward with Son and Bergwijn involved.

After the drinks break Son over-hit a cross from the left for Kane and Henderson collected. Sissoko had a low shot on target after Lucas Moura’s pass, but it was hit straight at the keeper. After a foul on Lucas more than 25 yards out, Harry Kane took the kick but hit his shot well over the target.

At this stage you’d think things looked promising for Spurs, but their defence was exposed towards the left of their area when Basham cut the ball back and record signing Sander Berge gleefully met the ball and scored. It was the first club goal for the midfielder.

Spurs thought they had equalised immediately. Lucas Moura was fouled as he approached the area, but the ball ran to Harry Kane who cut inside and beat the keeper with a left foot shot. VAR took an age and decreed that Lucas Moura’s hand/arm had touched the ball to enable the goal and under the rules it had to be disallowed. Spurs didn’t even get a free kick for the foul, as the referee had played an “advantage”.

“Blades” captain Norwood was booked for a subsequent foul on Lucas Moura. Lo Celso took the kick, but it was headed out for a corner off the wall. Norwood could be deemed lucky to escape further punishment when he challenged Son soon after that with his arm hitting Son in the face.

Two minutes before the break, Spurs broke well through the middle, but once again there was no end product and again it was Aurier’s cross that came to nought. Sissoko crossed low and hard into the box but the defence cleared. Lucas Moura met a Lo Celso corner in front of the near post but glanced his header over.

Seven minutes into the second half Sissoko gave away a cheap corner with an over-hit back pass from just inside the half-way line. That was pretty incompetent stuff. Bergwijn was replaced by Lamela who took over in the middle of the three supporting Kane, but still there was no end product. Kane had no delivery and hardly a touch.

After an hour Baldock and Berge combined on the right. Lloris couldn’t hold Berge’s cross and the ball looped up with McGoldrick hitting a shot into the side netting. That Spurs defence had been badly exposed again, and worse would follow. McGoldrick was replaced by Mousset – once of Bournemouth.

It was Mousset who gave United a two goal lead in the 69th minute. This time the Spurs defence on the right side of their box was weak as left back Stevens and midfielder Osborn combined and Stevens made the final pass to Mousset who scored.

Now Mourinho replaced Sissoko and Aurier with Dele and Ndombele. Lucas Moura played in an advanced right back position. Harry Kane had the ball in the net after an Ndombele pass, but he was offside. Mourinho’s final change was to introduce Jan Vertonghen for Davies. It was all too late though as United scored a very good goal to go three up. Baldock fed the ball to Berge who got to the bye-line on the right before cutting back for McBurnie to sweep home at the near post.

Harry Kane’s 90th minute goal was nothing more than a consolation. He finished at close range in the centre of goal after Lamela had passed to Son on the left and Son provided the final cross. This goal does mean that Harry has scored against all the Premier League teams he has faced (29). Mourinho failed to win his 200th and Spurs will definitely finish with less than 70 points for the first time since Pochettino’s first season. Sheffield United are unbeaten in their past six top-flight home games against Spurs, dating back to December 1975.

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