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Bournemouth v Spurs, 22.10.16

(12.30 pm)

Attendance:- 11,201

Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- S Ledger, Kirkup
Fourth official:- R East

Bournemouth (4-2-3-1):- Boruc; Smith, Francis (Capt.), Cook, Daniels; Gosling, Arter; King (sub Fraser, 88), Wilshere, Ibe (sub Gradel, 60); Wilson (sub Afobe, 82)

Subs not used:-Federici; Ake, Mings; Mousset

Booked:- Gosling, Gradel (foul on Lamela)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele, Wanyama; Eriksen, Alli (sub Sissoko, 72), Lamela; Son (sub Janssen, 62)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Wimmer, Davies; Winks

Booked:- Lamela (foul on Smith), Vertonghen (foul on Wilson), Alli (foul on Smith), Rose (foul on King)

We might be unbeaten, but we are not good enough

Unusually, due to the nature of my journey today, I found myself tweeting words to the effect of my headline soon after the game. There was a mixed response. Some people were positive because we are still unbeaten in the league. Others were far more critical than I, and expressed their views in stronger language. Some were angry, and I confess to feeling more angry than usual during the game. I was angry with our performance; with the lack of goals, firepower, penetration, inventiveness, and also with our persistence in passing short in our own half, often backwards, and often to the man in least rather than most space. I was angry with the referee, who I felt was very much against Spurs today, although others with the benefit of TV replays say that we might have had a player or two sent off.

I did not travel to Bournemouth expecting a Spurs win. I never expect a Spurs win, but I did fancy us to win and at least go top of the league for a couple of hours at least. By the time I got home, Arsenal had gone top, although they only managed a 0-0 draw, and they were at home. Now, as I write this report, Liverpool have also gone above us and we are down to fourth. We have been labelled as Premier League title contenders, but I think we will struggle to even stay in the top four – never mind having a tilt at the title. Some eagerly anticipate the return of Harry Kane, who is back in training, and who might make the North London Derby game in two weeks’ time. Harry’s two goals so far this season have been sitters, and I am not convinced he is the answer to our problems.

A big grievance of mine is our slow build-up play, which allows any team to get men behind the ball, and to stem any attacking intent. Rarely do we excite going forward, and surprise the opposition. I think our biggest problem at the moment is tiredness, and I think our players have looked leggy in our last two games, in which we have not seen a goal.

Credit must be given to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth – still a new Premier League team, looking to establish themselves in the top echelon of English football. Today, they started brightly (as they did in this game last year), and so nearly scored after a corner when the ball was rolled in from the right and ex-Spurs junior Charlie Daniels hit a shot which Hugo Lloris saved with his legs, managing to push the shot up onto the bar. After that, Bournemouth played a lot of the time like the away team at home, but it was down to Spurs to try and be more clever. In this they ultimately failed.

There was some good play by Spurs, and in the early stages, I felt that Dele Alli was our best outfield player. Alli created a great move in the inside left position feeding Lamela, whose shot hit the outside of the woodwork. Soon after this Lamela took an early booking for a foul on another ex-Spurs junior – Adam Smith. Smith, Daniels and plenty of their team-mates excelled today, so, yes, I do give them credit, but I want Spurs to be better.

Wanyama was down for a while after a strong challenge by man of the match contender Harry Arter, but no foul was given, and I’ve seen comments that suggest it was a strong but fair challenge. I just felt it was evidence of the referee being against the visiting team. Maybe Spurs aren’t capable of these “strong but fair” tackles, because they took four first half bookings, which has to put the players under pressure. There were one or two promising moves by Spurs, not least when Dembele fed Rose on the left, and he passed inside to Son, from whom the ball was cleared. Incidentally, Dembele lined up right of Wanyama at kick off, but could then be found left of Lamela, and in the middle. Wanyama fed the ball to Eriksen, who did hit a shot on target, but Boruc saved and conceded a corner. Son got into the box and passed back to Danny Rose, whose cross/shot was cleared.

Spurs picked up three more yellow cards and in added time, Bournemouth had a couple of chances. Both fell to Wilson. Both went wide. Jack Wilshere, who was the boo-boy (to put it mildly) of the Spurs fans throughout, had been the provider for the first of these chances. The Arsenal loanee played 90 minutes for the first time this season. At one point, he even waved to the jeering Spurs fans, successfully offering a neutral expression.

After the break, Kyle Walker had a cross/shot cleared, and Eriksen’s touch was easy for the keeper. Dele Alli soon had a shot saved, after Dembele’s pass. Eric Dier conceded a corner under pressure from Wilson. At the other end, there was a clever touch by Eriksen to put the ball in front of the advancing Lamela, but Erik over-hit his final touch and Boruc picked up. Walker, Dembele and Alli were involved in a move where Alli was fouled, but the referee fairly waved “play-on”, before Lamela had a chance but fired wide. Alli and Lamela were involved in the next move which gave Son a chance, but this was blocked, without testing the keeper. Son was soon replaced by Janssen. Our top scorer is surely better off playing on the flank.

Kyle Walker was fouled out on the right and Lamela took the kick, but Boruc saved at his right-hand post. A tiring Dele Alli was replaced by Sissoko, who took up the right flank, with Lamela moving to the middle, and Eriksen playing on the left. Sissoko crossed from the right and Danny Rose had a shot but this was easy for Boruc. Lamela and Janssen had been involved in the build-up. It wasn’t long before Moussa Sissoko was involved in controversy on the touch-line. He was prevented from taking a quick throw by Arter, and it is alleged the Spurs man struck Arter with his elbow. The referee consulted his assistant, but apart from words with the two players, no action was taken. There is a suggestion that Sissoko may suffer post-match FA discipline.

Time was running out for Spurs, and Lamela ran into the box exchanging with Eriksen, but his shot was blocked. Dembele rescued Spurs when Bournemouth countered, and was happy to concede a corner. Francis crossed from the right but substitute Benik Afobe headed over.

For a team purporting to be in a title race, the draws in our last two away games are disappointing, and not good enough in my opinion. I expect we are going to send a “League Cup team” to Liverpool on Tuesday, and our match at home to a re-vitalised Leicester next week looks challenging on our current form.

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