1 min Christian Eriksen is into the game immediately, prompting around the Bournemouth box. But he’s crowded out and the home team are away.
Bournemouth huddle, to discuss whether entry to the single market is possible after Brexit.
The crowd sing Sweet Caroline. Is Daryl Gurney in attendance?
I remember thinking similar about Rio Ferdinand who, towards the end of his career stayed back while Patrice Evra went up and revealed a talent for scoring with headers.
The players are ready in the tunnel, tracky tops on and everyfink. Here they come!
On the same topic, here’s William Hargreaves: “As a Gooner, I enviously admit they need only to carry on as they are and ensure that spirit grows. Wenger has tenacity, ability to embody the spirit needed to win a trophy. Poch et al will get there soon, I fear.”
I’m not sure the team is strong enough not to need strengthening. The question for me is in what position – perhaps alongside Dembele.
“In answer to your question,” tweets Mike, “not playing Aurier and playing Moura would be a start! MoPo’s done pretty well, but often seems a bear of little brain, especially his lack of tactical flexibility and defending cheating. His own red card record (13) isn’t inspiring.”
Not sure about that last bit – the best side is rarely the cleanest side – and not sure Aurier is the reason Spurs haven’t taken the next step.
Eddie Howe explains that Josh King has a neck problem, and hopes that his players will start the game well. Asked about controlling Harry Kane, he explains that “As I always say, when you’re dealing with individual players it’s about the team.” Not sure I’d be so keen to assert ownership of that insight, but there we go.
“Is this about character for Spurs today, Tim?”
“Yeah, it’s about dusting themselves dahn.”
Skill is, of course, entirely irrelevant to this enterprise.
Mauricio Pochettino accepts Sky’s commiserations for Spurs’ European exit – it’s a touching moment, I can tell you. He explains that Davies is fatigued but says Rose is ready, and that he’d like his team to improve their position – “the competition does not wait” for them to finish mourning the loss to Juventus.
I ask this question a lot, because I don’t know the answer, so: what do Spurs need to do take the next step? Their first XI is nailed down with high-quality players, so it’s tricky to advocate replacing any of them. Yet, quite clearly, it’s not been good enough to contest the major prizes, so does Mauricio Pochettino just wait for his younger players to improve sufficiently? Or change something, whether personnel, formation or both?
So Bournemouth make one change, Mousset replacing King. Spurs, meanwhile, make three changes from midweek, Trippier, Davies and Dier stepping out to be replaced by Aurier, Rose and Wanyama.
Police and Thieves
Bournemouth (a studied 4-4-1-1): Begovic; Francis, Cook S, Ake, Daniels; Smith, Cook L, Gosling, Stanislas; Mousset, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Sermon, Arter, Fraser, Ibe, king, Defoe.
Tottenham Hotspur (a drilled 4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Dier, Sissoko, Lamela, Moura, Llorente.
Leading man: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Not many of us marry our first, second or sixty-second love, let alone make a go of it. Rather, we learn from experience, hope to get there in the end, and either do or don’t.
So it makes little sense to chastise Spurs for their naivety in losing to Juventus, nor to decry them as bottlers. It is possible for one good side to shade another just because, because football is like that; it is also possible for one good side to shade another because they have better players, able to turn it up at clutch beyond the scope of their opponents. And for all Spurs’ virtues, they don’t have a defender as good as Giorgio Chiellini, nor an attacker as dynamic as Paulo Dybala.
On the other hand, it is long since time that they asserted themselves to the tune of substance. For all the fuss, they have not even come close to winning the title or a cup these past three seasons – not because they weren’t strong enough at the end of the race, but because they didn’t start it in the proper manner. So they need to recover their poise this afternoon, to keep on track for next season’s Champions League and to prepare them for a taxing Cup quarter with Swansea next weekend.
As for Bournemouth, they’re doing ok. January wins over Arsenal and Chelsea lifted them away from the relegation struggle, but sketchier recent form means that they are only six points above the bottom three. They should have more than enough to stay up, but the longer it goes, tiddly-pom, the closer it goes, tiddly-pom, the more who stays and who goes, tiddly-pom, can be determined by relatively little. So they need the points, and can be relied upon to try and take them.
Kick-off: 4pm GMT
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