Thanks all for your company and comments, sorry I couldn’t get to them all – ta-ra.
Right then, I guess that’s us – here’s our match report.
“Should that win be described as a ‘Masterclass from Brendan Rodgers”? asks Keith Sanderson. “If Mourinho does it and it comes off then it‘s obviously a masterclass. I really wonder how long Spurs fans will be able to swallow the tactics applied in the first half of this game. It doesn‘t matter how they‘re undone, whether by some incompetent defending, or an unlucky deflection, if you‘re going to invite your opponents to have a go, then sometimes, you‘re going to get a bloody nose.”
Masterclass is strong, as the key moment in the match was some ridiculous behaviour from Aurier. But I’m certain that if it happened for his team, Mourinho would summarise it such, soi why not.
‘Title-winning sides score scrappy goals in scrappy wins,” tweets Gary Naylor, “something Mourinho knows well. Who scores those kind of goals if Dele Alli can’t get on the field and Eric Dier is now a centre-back?”
Well they’ve got two of the best goalscorers around, but it’s true to say they’re struggling without them. Maybe Bale will get there, I don’t know, but the midfield need to contribute more and that’s hard if two of its three members are there to destroy.
“As a Spurs fan I can’t help but dream about what Rogers would do with this group of players,” grouses Adam Levine, “instead of the stodge that Mourinho is pouring out week after week. As good as the wins against Arsenal and City were, the last 3 games, including this one really show what he’s all about. And it ain’t pretty.”
Yes, I can see that. Rodgers still has a lot to do to show that he can get it done at crucial moments, but this Spurs squad would offer him a lot of scope to do what he does best.
“In a match with the relentless, ruthless Vardy, who finishes a ridiculous percentage season on season, you ask about someone else running through and scoring? Madness…” chides Michael Jelley.
Vardy is also very good and his movement and aggression are spectacular, but I don’t think he’s quite got the subtlety of Son.
“It’s moments like these when a team needs attacking fluidity, that you remember that Mourinho is a chequebook manager,” groans Paul Fitzgerald.
I think that’s harsh – his best work, at Porto and Inter, came without loads of money. The thing with him – in mine – is that he’s become inflexible in his dotage, so he doesn’t change things that aren’t working, blaming everyone but himself and his methods.
“I can understand Mourinho’s tactics at Anfield,” says Niall O’Keefe. “But surely a season of playing counter attacking football can’t win titles. I defer to the experts but I suspect Jose’s teams in Spain, Italy and England over the years were more ambitious at home. How else would they win leagues? The amazing technicoloured cloak he suffocates his opponents with ain’t pretty.”
Just as we read in synagogue last week. But yup, I agree – it’s hard to make it work over the stretch, the trick is deploying it at the right time. And it’s not just a matter of the attack either – you can’t invite pressure on a suss defence and expect to get away with it.
“Surely Dele is the very antithesis of a Mourinho player? emails Felix White. “Thrives on spontaneity, doesn’t have a fixed position, assured of his best contribution without needing validation from a coach … he’s Mourinho’s basic nightmare. Yes he’s fit and works hard in games, but he’s not going to be a puppet. Like Ozil or Muller he probably needs a manager who won’t feel challenged by that. This isn’t to say he or Mourinho is right or wrong, merely that in all walks of life there are talents and management philosophies that simply don’t fit with each other. It would be best for everyone to acknowledge this and let Dele go somewhere where he can shine.”
I agree with the last bit for sure, but I thought Mourihno would enjoy his output and edge – though I see what you’re saying.
Kicking-off in 15 minutes is Manchester United v Leeds United. Follow along with Rob Smyth.
“We’ve come here with a gameplan and absolutely nailed what we wanted to do,” he says. They wanted to get about Spurs and not give them too much time, so let them get to halfway then “put the press on”. He doesn’t know why Leicester’s away form is so much better than their home form – “We’re obviously doing something wrong” – and reassures people that his injury is no biggie and “just a little tweak,” so he thought he’d better come off.
Leicester started with greater intensity to Spurs and looked the better side throughout, but weren’t showing particular signs of creating anything until Aurier’s intervention. Anyway, here’s Jamie Vardy….
Full-time: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester city
That’s a huge win for Leicester, who continue their brilliant away form; they go second – above Spurs – who’ve take one point from their last nine.
at 11.19am EST
90+2 min “The offside rule hasn’t been changed,” reckons Matt Dony, “it’s just being applied more accurately. The problem here isn’t VAR itself, it’s the wording of the law. I agree it’s a shame to see goals like that chalked off, but the fact is he WAS offside. If we’re going to have offside in its current form, then VAR makes it consistent and fair. There must be a way to re-write the law that preserves the original intent (ie discouraging goal-hanging), but avoids these kind of pedantic mm measurements, but I haven’t heard one yet. And I’m certainly not smart enough to come up with it myself. Needs thinking outside the box, which has rarely been a strength of football’s law-makers.”
I don’t think there is, because even if you give a buffer, you have to take a measurement from somewhere, which necessarily means tiny margins. I don’t really care about aesthetic goals being disallowed if they contravene the laws, I just don’t think that getting a few more calls right is worth the cost, because right calls are irrelevant to my love of the game.
90+1 min You’ve got to give it to Leicester, they really do find them – internally and externally. They’ve given Spurs almost nothing today, and Justin and Fofana have been a huge part of that.
89 min “Dele can be excellent in big games,” emails Colum Farrelly, “but isn’t the problem that a lot of the time he’s less than good, never mind excellent? Mourinho likes consistency, so perhaps there’s a problem there. Also, Dele often comes across as petulant, and Mourinho reserves that quality for himself.”
My problem with Alli was always that if he didn’t score or assist he did nothing, and I hoped he’d turn into a box-to-box midfielder. I also hoped Mourhino would get him going again, but don’t know how he is in general and don’t know if there’s any kind of beef.
at 11.05am EST
88 min Jamie Vardy is limping, so he goes off to be replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho. What a player Vardy is, by the way, a junkyard dog who loves Mozart.
at 11.08am EST
85 min Leicester should settle it! Albrighton, who’s had a really useful game, pressures an error out of Dier near the corner flag and Vardy collects the loose ball, roaring towards the box and sliding back for Tielemans. He should just give it a frask, but instead takes a touch to make sure, then clatters over the top.
84 min Moura drags the ball down the outside of Amartey and swivels into a cross that hits Fofana. There are shrieks for a penalty, but that was mainly chest with a soupçon of armpit. Behave.
84 min Leicester send on Praet for Barnes. I really like Barnes, and think he’s got potential to grow into a serious player once he gets the finishing and decision-making right.
83 min “David Elleray is on to something for me,” says Tom Atkins. “For all his annoying pomposity, he was never one to be bullied by crowds, players or managers. He was one of a rare breed, though. VAR has made it a lot more difficult for your John Terry/Alex Ferguson-types to intimidate officials into giving key decisions their way. For me reducing that kind of behaviour improves the game as a spectacle.”
I think that affects a minute proportion of games, unlike things flowing nicely and being able to celebrate goals. Officials having an easy time is well down my list of things I love about football, and I’d rank Fergie’s spirit above Elleray’s in terms of what they contribute to the game.
81 min Winks tugs back Maddison and is booked, which reminds me that Dier was also booked a few minutes ago for mouth.
81 min Kane is doing his best to drag something out of Spurs, finding Reguilon, who punches a low cross for Son. But he gets his angles wrong, and Schmeichel collects under no pressure.
79 min Hmmm, that was close. Barnes ran by Sissoko, who extended an arm and grabbed him around the torso – not for very long, but nevertheless. I’m glad that’s not a penalty, but the ref’s certainty is not for me,
78 min Here come Leicester again, darting down the right with Vardy, and the ball goes hard into Barnes, who falls when Sissoko blunders either into or close to him. The ref waves Barnes up in that patronising manner and like he can be certain that what he thinks happened happened, but on this occasion VAR backs him up.
77 min “This is all very well,” says Andy Tuohy. “But is the best team losing?”
Better, José. Better.
76 min Spurs are chasing this like a team that doesn’t know how to chase this.
74 min “I am an American Evertonian,” admits Brad Wilson, “and one of the reasons I have become much more of a soccer fan than American football fan over the last 20 years is the endless and infuriating delays replay officiating brought to US football which had enough delays already. Too many times endless replays kill momentum and sap spirit. I hate to see such delays infiltrate footy. Just hate it. I like goal-line technology. Other than that, let the referee do his job and let the great game flow and the passion pour out instead of waiting on VAR.”
At some point, there’ll be tech that means all players have a chip in their boot or something, and then we’ll get an instant call on offside. But otherwise, the game is a glorious, beautiful thing and we meddle with it at our own risk.
72 min Ndidi dives in on Bale and is booked; Bale lashes the free-kick into the rough.
at 10.53am EST
71 min Saaaaave! Spurs win a corner which finds its way to the far post and Son arrives unmarked! But on the slide, he cab’t get a proper connection so the ball loops up and Schmeichel plunges to poke away.
70 min “To cut a long story short: Doherty?” asks Duncan Edwards.
Yes, that was a buy that made a lot of sense, in a Jorge Mendes kind of way, but I guess Mourinho has decided he doesn’t actually like him and there’s not much coming back from that.
68 min The game’s more stretched now, Kane finding space but Vardy doing likewise, and it’s his movement that earns the space for Maddison to waft a shot over the bar.
66 min Back to VAR – sorry, but the goal interrupted us – managers, players and fans who regularly blamed the officials for their team’s incompetence are also to blame for what we’ve got now. Refs are too – a few days ago, David Elleray was banging on about how players’ behaviour is better now, like being rude to refs is consideration on a par with celebrating goals, the finest feeling known to humanity. But ultimately, what has always been the case and will always remain the case is that whatever the ref does, there’s always plenty of scope for teams to do something that reverses the situation.
65 min So what’s going on with Dele Alli then? He seemed like the identikit Mourinho player – great numbers, excellent in big games, loads of bronca – but can’t even get in the squad. What gives?
64 min Mourinho does what he might’ve done before kick-off and removes Aurier, Winks coming on in his stead. That should sort it.
62 min Kane has a sight of goal, but Schmeichel appears set to save his bouncing effort just as my Sky cuts out.
60 min Leicester send on Amartey, back from another injury, for Castagne.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City (Alderweireld own goal, 59)
Excellent play from Albrighton, driving down the right and slinging over a fine cross, allows Vardy to do what he does, thirsting for the ball more than anyone else. He hangs, nails Sissoko who isn’t paying attention, and his header necessarily hits Alderweireld on its way by Lloris. That’s no more than Leicester deserve for their enterprise and no more than Spurs deserve for their cowardice.
at 12.20pm EST
58 min “It seems to me, Daniel, that the offside rule has changed to accommodate VAR, not to improve the game, emails Barry Bryan. “There would not have been any dispute Maddison was on before it. I am, above all, sad to see such a lovely goal consigned to history.”
I’m not sure I quite agree with the thrust of this, though I was always against VAR. Once you invite in technology, the big calls will always be over millimetres, the question is what we love more, the flow and spontaneity of the game, or 98 percent correct calls over 97 %. No one fell in love with football because of its legal framework, but the refs and authorities don’t get that.
56 min Mourinho picking Aurier reminds me of when Diego Simeone signed Alvaro Morata – doing something out of character but which guaranteed perpetual fury.
55 min Dier spreads wide to Aurier, who has a look, a think, and spanks a cross behind like he’s been doing it all his life.
54 min Leicester look really lively – they’ve been much quicker to the ball than Spurs, and more inclined to commit men forward.
53 min The thing with Spurs’ style is because they’ve deployed it in pretty much every game, now that they need something different, you wonder if they’re capable.
52 min “Granted that this match isn’t over, Clive,” emails Ian Copestake, “but in the narrative of this season, Spurs’ loss week seems like a turning point for both teams. If this season was hardboiled fiction Spurs would be facing cement boots while Liverpool go off with the dame.”
But what did she mean by it?
50 min But bad news follows for Spurs, Lo Celso forced off with Moura coming on. That’s a proper nause for Mourinho, who presumably toyed with taking him off before going for Ndombele and will presumably be without him for the festive gorging.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City
The lines are racked, and Maddison’s left shoulder was offside.
at 10.41am EST
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City (Maddison 48)
Justin punts one in behind and Maddison is free, easing between Dier and Reguilon neither of whom is anywhere near him. His first touch is sensational, transferring the ball into stride, and his finish, smacked sidefooted across Llrois, is pretty nifty too! We got ourselves a ball-game!
at 10.38am EST
47 min Lo Celso goes down and clutches a hamstring – that doesn’t look good – but he seems fine.
46 min “Do you think Spurs are under-performing or over-performing this season?” asks Ryan Jennings. “You seem to have made pretty clear that you think Mourinho’s tactics are fundamentally flawed . Do you think that’s reflected in the league table?”
No, the table always reflects which teams are doing best at what the it’s there to measure. Spurs are performing at their level, I just think they’re capable of a better one.