|photo by Max Braun
Ed's got more than a few thoughts on the young season:
o The loss of Willian to Chelsea didn't seem to affect Spurs that much against Swansea yesterday at White Hart Lane. Unlike in their first game, Spurs out-athleted the Swans AND looked good on the ball. Capoue was particularly good both on the ball and in defense, allowing Spurs to push both Dembele and Paulinho forward and to play with only one holder, in basically a 4-1-4-1. This is close to the preferred lineup of AVB, and not surprisingly, of Jose Mourinho. It simply takes the right person to be that holder, and with both Capoue and Sandro on the roster, Spurs should be able to field this lineup with regularity against teams other than the top four or five.
o For years American fans have questioned the athleticism of European soccer players, that is: "Wouldn't it be better if the players were bigger and faster?" Spurs are riding that experiment now, and after the smallest of samples the first reviews are positive. Dembele, Paulinho, Chadli, Aboue, and Sandro are all big and fast. They were able to completely stifle the Swansea passing game for most of the match. Even though United beat this same Swansea team handily, United could barely touch the ball and had no answers to Swansea's position. Indeed it was merely the supremely talented Van Persie that was the sole difference maker in the sides. Spurs, however, dominated the ball but both struggled to score and were somewhat unlucky to have not scored. And this remains the deficiency of Spurs -- the lack of a true creative number ten.
o AVB is not unaware of this deficiency, attempting to pull in Willian for £30 million. But the deal fell through at the last minute when Mourinho gleefully stole him out from under their noses at £32 million. It's fine for Spurs to be angry at Mourinho and Chelsea for this, but frankly they have no argument. Even if the sole reason that Chelsea stole Willian from Spurs was to keep their rivals (okay too strong a word) from getting him -- as it has been reported that AVB and Mourinho seem to think -- that's still just a whine and not an argument. If you want to keep Willian, either offer more or convince him that he's not going to play at Chelsea like he will at Spurs. Or that with him, Spurs have a realistic chance of actually winning the league. Are they really that far from Chelsea? I'm starting to think not.
o It seems now that Spurs are targeting a new number 10. What's nice about this is that it's clear that AVB understands that Gilfy, though a nice player, is not the solution for a top-tier club at the number 10 position. He is simply outshined from an athletic standpoint by so many of his teammates. And while we are celebrating all of these new Spurs and the acumen it took to pick them up, we can't forget Holtby, who frankly has yet to impress and seems now more an extra than anything else. That said, this transfer period has seemed miles and miles ahead of teams like United (they couldn't use Capoue or Paulinho?), or of course Arsenal, a team that annoys me more each year (there's nothing worse than arrogant mediocrity, it's so. . . . French).
o It was terrific to see Townsend play so well and become such a threat on the wing. This is critical as Lennon is, as has been noted, a bit of a chandelier on the right side, breaking down frequently.
o Finally, while Rose continues to play well on the left, Walker on the right continues to annoy at times. He is a terrific defender, both physical and fast -- again a high level athlete -- but he gives the ball away far too often. By the beginning of the second half I had counted 6 stupid giveaways. He needs to grow up and get that behind him. So he can be traded to Chelsea or Real Madrid for £100 million, I suppose.
o The Bale saga has been so long it's now at the painful point. At least this new squad is starting to show they can play the game, with our without him.
o NBC's commentators are to me doing a far better job at halftime and following matches than the team at Fox, a team that I often found annoying and weirdly awkward. Robbie Mustoe's breakdowns have been informative, and even American Kyle Martino has been insightful despite his enormous head of hair. Rebecca Lowe is exactly that kind of English woman that is kind of not attractive, but she's much less annoying and always more pithy than the Chris Bermanesque Rob Stone. He's bizarrely gleeful "The American!" reminded me of the feeling I get from chewing on tinfoil. Plus, they're not on that stupid large field, which added nothing but commentators not knowing what to do with their hands and feet. And as an added bonus, we get English match commentators and do not have to struggle through Gus Johnson and his senseless screaming.
BUT. . . . .
o I don't understand the goal highlights. They are so disjointed I can hardly follow the play. Stop it. Goals are exciting enough -- or even more exciting -- when you can actually see what happened.
This is farlieonfootie for August 26.