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Some more Conclusions
Back in October, United won a tightly fought content 1-0 against Tottenham that could have gone either way, Spurs won more emphatically in their latest meeting between the two clubs and there was a feeling they had the size of this United team. Not surprising though, after a brilliant start, Tottenham crumbled again ensuring their title count under Pochettino still remains zero. This is their eight consecutive FA Cup loss and they need to shake off the hoodoo if they are to truly match their potential.
Tottenham started on the front foot again as they had the last time they met. Another early goal and it seemed it was going to be another one way affair.
United regrouped quickly though and pulled off another 2-1 victory from 1-0 down. They seem to have gotten a knack of doing so against the top teams. This is their third such won after doing the same against Chelsea and Manchester City. Rather a neat party trick.
Questions are going to be asked, and rightly so, for the decision to pick Vorm in goal over Lloris. It was a poor effort from Vorm that led to United’s goal and surely you would have expected Lloris to have saved that goal. If not for that mistake, Tottenham might have walked out winners. Contrast this to United. They have far better backup options for goalkeeper, yet they persisted with their top choice a la David De Gea.
After being knocked out by Juventus in the Champions League and all but guaranteed a top 4 place in the league (surely even top 2 is highly unlikely), Tottenham had the opportunity to finish on a high with a FA cup win on what has been their home ground this season. Playing their best player in goal was an enormous mistake and the blame for that rests solely on Pochettino. A potential 3rd place finish couple with a FA cup win and a strong performance in the Champions League, this could have been their best season in decades.
Sanchez loves Wembley, doesn’t he? He has now scored 8 in 8 appearances at the stadium. Once again against United’s biggest rivals, he showed why United were so desperate to sign him. If he can perform at this level consistently, he is bound to become a fan favourite soon.
Pogba excites and he frustrates. He should have done do much better in the build up to Tottenham’s goal. He appeared sluggish and reluctant to shoulder the defensive responsibility. You can see why he is so often at odds with a defensive minded coach like Mourinho. But from then he played a major role in helping his side turn the tables on their rivals and showed why United would be foolish to lose him again.
Pogba was not the only one though. For all their resilience, this side has a tendency to blow hot and cold. They have developed a habit of starting their games slow and then growing as the match progresses. Arsenal and Chelsea will be looking to exploit this weakness when they face off against United in a few weeks time.
One of the interesting facets of United’s game plan has been that they have been able to keep the top strikers quiet. Young had Salah in his pocket last month and you could have been forgiven for filing a missing person’s report for Harry Kane yesterday. These two are easily among the top 5 strikers worldwide scoring goals with abandon all season, but against United, both have failed to make much of an impact.
As soon as United took the lead, they shut up shop and this is where Mourinho earns his bread and butter. Jones and Smalling hardly inspire confidence and for all their dynamism Valencia and Jones have defensive weaknesses. Yet the fact that United have the second stingiest (only one more goal conceded than City) and the most number of clean sheets is testament to both De Gea and Mourinho. This game could have gone on for another 45 minutes and you have a feeling, it would still have ended 2-1.
Credit to Smalling though, He put in another terrific performance. For all the debate over Fellaini, Smalling remains a much more decisive figure at the club.
This will be United’s 20th FA cup final equaling Arsenal’s record. They now have the opportunity to win their 13th FA Cup title matching another Arsenal record. Having knocked out the title favourites, you expect Mourinho and United to add one more to their title tally.
…Can we stop with the Spurs love in now, please?
If you lose to this United side in your own ground, you aren’t very good.
If you finish behind this United side in the league, you aren’t very good.
If you can’t beat a side with a back four of Young/ Smalling/ Jones/ Valencia, you aren’t very good.
Unless Liverpool win the Champions League can we just agree that the Premier League this year has one good team and 19 rubbish ones?
ThaiWolf, Hong Kong
Yes. And yes
Ander Herrera is a complete and utter shithouse.
And I absolutely love him for it.
Spurs really are mentally weak
Can we all agree now that Spurs are mentally weak. Yes, they play the best football in the EPL after Man City and Arsenal ( Oh Yeah! That’s right) , they are punching way above their weight both in the League and in Europe, they have great young manager who believes in youth bla bla bla. Those are very good points.
But we cannot fail to recognise how they continuously fall short when it matters most. For all the talk about Arsenal being the most mentally weak of the Top 6, journalists never criticize Tottenham’s their mental resilience. They have to start winning something soon before Kane does a Van Persie.
Pakuru ( GZ, China)
…Just back from Wembley and I’ll say it, so that other teams don’t have to. We were Spursy. We bottled it.
Ultimately, Manchester United offered nothing. They didn’t test us. They didn’t make us work. They didn’t threaten. They were very, very average. We went 1-0 up and should have had at least one more.
Then Dembele uncharacteristically gives the ball away when he had no reason to be mucking about in that aera. Pogba and Sanchez are too good to turn that down. 1-1.
Second half, Trippier panics and doesn’t clear his lines. Sanchez nicks it off him, ball comes over, it’s not dealt with again by ball-watching centrebacks and Herrera makes it 2-1.
We panicked. Offered nothing thereafter… oh and nobody can tell me Kane is fit to play right now. He looks a shadow of the player who was playing before his ankle went. I’d be worried if I was Gareth Southgate.
Father Dave, THFC, Kent
Pochettino missing the Redknapp touch
Congratulations to Manchester United who were deserved winners. Their plan was as impressive and effective as City’s rather different method last week.
Harry Redknapp is regularly derided on these pages, but he changed the game-plan around when things weren’t working. He saw nothing wrong with a diagonal to Crouch and knock-down to Van Der Vaart. Loads of goals were scored against stubborn teams that way. We no longer employ real wingers, and even without them there is no plan B and we desperately needed one. Llorente wasn’t even on the bench.
United completely deserved it, but the appalling time wasting with fake injuries (added to the slowest substitutions ever made) was infuriating and small time. But we were found out, and the lack of variety killed us. We have improved year on year and have our best squad yet, but Pochettino needs to learn from this as we were taught a lesson.
Dave, Winchester Spurs
A long one on Liverpool
Again, Liverpool have thrown away points to a bottom half team in a stupid way.
VERY pleased for Danny Ings to get his first goal in 930 days (surprised that stat wasn’t plastered absolutely everywhere after that goal). Love how much he’s fought back to get to this stage after two years of unfortunate injuries.
However saying that, for him and Liverpool he should really go to a mid table club, where he can get the minutes he deserves. He isn’t up to standard to really be a back-up striker for a team pushing for the league title/champions league, but I still do love how much he gives for the club, so he does deserve decent game time at another club, maybe going back to Burnley would be the best move (you heard if here first, if it does happen).
It’s this bit I am (uncomfortably) missing Divock Origi, who I hope has gained confidence at Wolfsburg, and I think, while not the best, is a good option to have, even just as a backup, as he is a decent option up front. So, we need decent backup option or two up front if we are going to push for trophies on all fronts.
I just don’t understand Liverpool’s defence either, just as they’re looking to improve, they take a step back. Van Djik has certainly given confidence to that back line and has helped them improve, Klavan is just a great guy, and is a useful utility option. While Gomez has had inconsistent performances at right back, he’s being played in his weaker position, he is a centre back, stick him alongside VVD as our two centre backs, and you’ve got a solid wall for a good few years there. (evidence for Gomez’s quality can be found by watching him in England’s friendly against Brazil, where he got MOTM playing where you ask? Centre back).
Then we come to he who shall not be named, who should not even be considered as part of the under 23’s, he is a woeful excuse for a left back, he might be an alright option as a winger but not a defender, get rid off him, and get an actual left back in as back up to the legend that is Andrew Robertson (a player I was begging Klopp to buy before we did). Really this game, Klopp could have experimented and played a back three of VVD, Gomez and Klavan. Karius has certainly looked stronger since being made number one again, he has looked better, but still needs to improve his catching to stop second ball scenarios (as seen by the first goal) and to an extent his decision making (seen in the second goal by coming out and getting stuck in no mans land).
Then comes the probably most common mail you’ll receive regarding the match. The woeful standard of refereeing in English football. I know VAR is unpopular with some people, but that’s because it’s done wrong, implement it like rugby where the referee has got a mic and whatever they say is audible to the whole stadium. Surely this would eliminate the issue of the crowd not knowing what’s going on.
Also just have the video ref make the decision, and only if the decision is stonewall, if its not stonewall, let the on pitch refs decide based on what they saw. Even put in an option to let the teams have a set number of appeals per game/half. Now to how important this would have been in the game, it would have given a stonewall penalty to Liverpool for Dawson on Ings, an awful decision not to give where the foul was unnecessary as Ings had no chance of getting the ball anyway, but anywhere else on the pitch that would have constituted a free kick (the true way a penalty should be considered).
Then Hegazi’s punch on Ings, (after a foul that should have been given to Liverpool anyway) which was weak, but was unnecessary and according to the letter of the law should have been a red card. So that’s West Brom down to 10 men, and a team should always play better against 10 men.
The punch has also shown the further ugly side of football, where there’s even greater off the ball violence, and if anyone says that football was better however long ago and its footballers are weak nowadays, that really isn’t relevant though is it, surely being less physical makes the sport safer and you don’t get more broken limbs or other incidents. Hegazi’s punch was just another example of this in recent week, with Alonso’s stamp last week to the face pushing incidents of the week before that.
SM (sorry for the length, but it shows just how much there is to talk about)
And a shorter one
Think Ian got it pretty spot on today. It’s worth adding though that Moreno definitely reminded us why we are so happy Robertson has nailed down that left back spot. His foolish challenge towards the end of the game is probably the nail in his Liverpool career coffin.
Gomez’s touch which led to their equaliser was so sloppy. Perhaps he got nervous having his back to goal so wanted to move the ball away but it was a naive decision that cost dearly.
Overall I think it was a good performance. We need 4 points from our last three games to nail down champions league football for next season. In the ideal world 3 of those points will be against Chelsea. Our second team still managed to look pretty good and everyone got through to Tuesday unharmed. I must say I thought Klavan looked pretty decent at the back today. He’s got good ball control and a decent range of passing. I still think a better partner is needed for VVD but I’d like to see Klavan stay as the understudy.
Klopp and set pieces
He refuses to accept set pieces are part of the game. Was there problem with the pitch at Anfield when he couldn’t beat Pulis’s Albion in the league? Or what about the pitch when he lost at home to Pardew’s Baggies?
His dig about the Championship shows the cretin’s total lack of class.
Ben the Baggie
Friday night football rules
With all the midweek matches this week concluded, I’m wondering about something. Wouldn’t one match on every game week Friday be nice?
I understand it’s inconvenient for away fans because of obvious reasons but any other week night is even more so since fewer people have work, school and other commitments on Saturday mornings? Possibly schedule derby matches or teams within close vicinity of each other on Friday nights to make that less of a problem?
I must be missing obvious reasons for this rarely happening in the EPL. Can someone remind me?
Would love to get off work and go to the pub and watch a Friday match with two days off on the horizon, much to the dismay of my wife. How come I almost never have that excellent excuse?
MK (LFC) Philippines