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Spurs v Wolves, 13.02.22


Jimenez, 6
Dendoncker, 18

Attendance:- 56,452

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Adrian Holmes, Simon Beck
Fourth official:- Simon Hooper
VAR:- Andre Marriner
Assistant VAR:- Marc Perry.

Spurs (3-4-3/4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Sanchez, Romero, Davies; Doherty (sub Emerson Royal, 82), Winks, Bentancur, Sessegnon (sub Kulusevski, 28); Lucas Moura (sub Bergwijn, 71), Kane, Son

Subs not used:- Gollini; Reguilon, Rodon; Hojbjerg, White; Scarlett

Booked:- Lucas Moura (handball), Kulusevski (foul on Kilman), Bentancur (foul on Hwang Hee-Chan)

Wolves (3-5-2):- Sa; Kilman, Coady (Capt.), Saiss; Semedo, Dendoncker, Neves, Cundle (sub Trincao, 84), Ait-Nouri; Jimenez (sub Fabio Silva, 86), Podence (sub Hwang Hee-Chan, 81)

Subs not used:- Ruddy; Hoever, Marcal, Toti; Jonny Otto, Chiquinho

Booked:- Ait-Nouri (foul on Winks)

Conte fails where Nuno succeeded

Spurs v Wolves, 13.02.22

Conte fails where Nuno succeeded. I never thought I’d write that, but of course early in the season Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs beat Wolves narrowly in the league. They also succeeded at Molineux in a League Cup penalty shoot-out. The Premier League win was achieved without an unsettled Harry Kane for the first 72 minutes, and with a penalty scored by the now-departed Dele Alli. Those are the simple facts, and Conte describes his Spurs as a work in progress. That "progress" now consists of three consecutive league defeats; a slip down to eighth place, and a very unlikely challenge for a Champions League place. Next week we face Manchester City at the Etihad. Nuno’s Spurs beat City on the opening day of the season. Conte’s Spurs need to avoid defeat to bring an end to a horrible run. That’s hardly likely.

I cannot recall being so distressed (and vocal about it too) about a Spurs performance, particularly in the first half. Every team knows the way we play, and it doesn’t matter who the manager is, our players’ lack of confidence leads to backward or failed passes. Even our captain was not exempt from failure, and can be held culpable for both Wolves’ goals, scored in the first 18 minutes. It was a lead Wolves were never going to let go. Spurs hardly threatened to reduce that lead. This was a fourth consecutive away win for Bruno Lage’s Wolves.

It was cold, wet and windy today, but of course the conditions were the same for both teams. Wolves played five across the midfield and included 19-year-old Luke Cundle who was making his first Premier League start. Conte switched his wing-backs but sacrificed Ryan Sessegnon in the first half to adjust his formation. The other wing-back, former Wolves’ player Matt Doherty, did not give us a performance that matched those in his days in Wolves’ gold. Ahead of him, Lucas Moura’s touch had deserted him.

Wolves kicked off and reversed the usual pattern, by playing towards their own fans in the North Stand first. Their first goal came early and was Jimenez’s first goal from open play since November. Mind you, it was gifted after Lloris batted away two shots, one by Neves, the other by Dendoncker, finally to the feet of Jimenez who did not fail. The Spurs defence was all over the place and Jimenez was unmarked.

There were moments for Bentancur and Kane, but Spurs moves were being broken down too easily. Bentancur hit a good pass to Son towards the left, but "Sonny"’s shot was hit straight at the goalkeeper. It wasn’t long before Spurs were two down. This followed an absolute shambolic attempt to play out from the back, with Lloris putting Davies under pressure with not even a sideways pass, but one that went backwards towards the bye-line. After more shocking defending, Podence had a shot blocked, then deflected by Bentancur onto the post rebounding to Dendoncker who scored from close range. We never looked likely to bounce back from such a poor start.

Kane had a right foot shot from 25 yards go over the bar before a defensive header by Doherty ran to Jimenez whose shot brought an acrobatic save by Lloris, diving to his left. Lucas found Kane with a pass just inside the Wolves are on the right, but Ait-Nouri cleared. Spurs were being closed down well, all over the park, whilst we were leaving too much space and not competing sufficiently for the ball. Wolves were passing the ball with ease and embarrassing the home side.

After Sessegnon’s substitution (he had to walk all the way round and in front of the South Stand), Kulusevski played in the middle of a midfield three behind Kane. Sessegnon was comforted by Conte when he reached the dug-out. Kane and Kulusevski combined before Son hit a cross/shot but that was cleared. Wolves were stringing passes together again. They had an attack following a break down of a Spurs move thanks to a poor Winks pass (not his only mistake) and Podence’s shot was well saved.

Winks and Bentancur did combine to get the ball to Son, whose right foot shot was saved. Another Winks pass found Son who passed inside for Kane, but he was challenged by Saiss, and a goal-kick was the result when the ball ran off Kane.

Spurs kicked off the second half and played towards the North stand. They had a free kick within three minutes after Son was fouled. Kane took the kick which was held by the keeper. When did Harry Kane last score from a free kick? Lloris saved at the feet of Jimenez after a loose ball from Sanchez. Kulusevski passed to Son who was on the edge of the Wolves area, but the defence cleared. Sa saved a shot by Kane after Son’s pass from his left. Kane had a couple of headers on goal after the ball had been crossed from the right, but both were saved. Whilst Kane and Son were our most prominent players, Harry should have scored at least once from the chances he had.

Spurs had a free kick out on the right, taken by Son after 64 minutes. Kulusevski got a foot in, and the ball ran to Winks, whose shot was deflected and might have just glanced the outside of the post. Son had another free kick just outside the box. The ball was blocked by the wall and missed by the keeper, flying out for a corner.

Lucas was booked for illegally trying to control a pass with his hand. Neves was away for Wolves passing to Ait-Nouri whose shot passed just wide of the target. Spurs best chance might have been for Son after a good ball by Kane into the box where Son was in a good shooting position but fired over. Kane was exasperated and put his hands to his head, and probably saw the way the game was going. Spurs fans began to vote with their feet. Kane was being taunted by Wolves fans who suggested he would be leaving soon.

Kulusevski dragged a shot wide after Davies had got into the area and crossed from the left. Wolves now began their concerted management and closure of the game, irritating home fans with time-wasting tactics and using their allocation of substitutions wisely. It’s Valentine’s Day today (Monday) but more and more Spurs fans are falling out of love with their team, and left the stadium. Again, it is long time since I have seen so many of our fans leave so early, and perhaps never at this stadium.

Three minutes from time, Wolves lost possession and Son passed to Emerson whose cross was met by a diving header by Kane but cleared by Coady. From the corner, taken by Son, Romero’s header was saved. In added time Sa lost the ball but neither Kulusevski nor Bergwijn could take advantage.

I am resigned to the fact that our season is over. After all, even if we manage to beat Middlesbrough in the FA Cup next month, at some point we would come up against Man City, Liverpool or Chelsea, and we would lose. I don’t even have hope these days.

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