We beat Manchester City yesterday in every respect, save for the rather important matter of scoring a goal.
That was down to one man – Joe Hart, who made a string of top saves. Hart’s brilliant display was all the more frustrating for the fact that it made Fabio Capello’s decision not to pick him for the World Cup, all the more baffling.
Disappointing as it is to draw a game that you could have won, this was one of the more encouraging 0-0 draws I’ve seen. We ripped apart a very defensive City side with ease in the first half, before gradually running out of steam in the second. Not every team has Joe Hart in goal and our performance suggested that we won’t be having to endure many goalless displays this season.
Pulling the strings in central midfield was Luka Modric. I had thought that he would prove to be too small to thrive as a central midfielder, but he’s proving that if you’re good enough you’re big enough. Modric isn’t going to win a huge number of 50/50 tackles, but his positioning ensures that he intercepts the ball regularly. Yesterday Modric was Ossie-like, which is high praise from a Spurs fan.
Bale also started this season as he ended last term, with another energetic display in which he gave the pacey Micah Richards a rather torrid time. The pick of the bunch though was Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who gave an assured display in defence, which included a brilliant tackle on the little bloke with the big fat mum.
In my preview of the game I speculated that City’s new team might need some time to blend together. On the evidence of yesterday’s performance it might take a long time. Their short arsed attack lacked presence, whilst the midfield was entirely made up of defensive players. Perhaps they should think about signing that James Milner bloke.
They will get better of course, but then so will we, which could be a frightening prospect for a lot of teams. Aaron Lennon for example still hasn’t hit the form that saw him made him such a threat pre-injury and Tom Huddlestone’s passing sometimes looked rusty. We know that those players can perform better and when they do, we’ll be even stronger.
The flaw in our team remains up front, where our strikers look just short of the mark. They will score against the lesser teams, but are too often found lacking against the best defences and can only play in tandem with one another. Bruce Forsyth had no idea how prophetic he was being when he used to say “you get nothing for a pair… not in this game.”
I’m still confident that we’ll be able to bring in another striker though. Whether he’ll be any good or not is another matter, but you can only hope. In the meanwhile we switch our attentions to the Champions League and pray that Young Boys aren’t so adept at keeping us at bay as Young Hart.