Starting lineup against Southampton was bang on. 4-3-3 / 4-4-2 with ball progression in midfield from Sissoko’s running + Eriksen’s passing, running in the final 3rd from Moura, creativity in the final 3rd from Dele, and all the finishing focus on our talisman Harry Kane.
For the first time in WEEKS, this team was actually watchable! The goal was silky smooth and easy on the eyes.
It was not to last however. After half time as Dele became gassed, things slowly unraveled. The first sub that made zero sense was taking Moura off.
I know Pochettino leaves on Dele because he has the quality to influence the game, but the guy clearly could not move after around 50/55 minutes. Moura was fresh, hungry, and running up and down the field with pace. First sub should have been Lamela for Dele – like for like-ish.
The second sub that made even less sense was finally taking off Dele for Llorente. Llorente is not a good sub in a game when we are losing control over midfield. Never!
Whenever we put him on in these situations, things only get worse. And of course that’s what happened. Putting him on removes another running body from the midfield, AND it crowds out Kane’s space, leaving the center of the final 3rd more congested.
Llorente should be used as a sub in games where we are chasing packed-in defenses and WE are in control of the ball – he should NOT be subbed on when we ourselves are the team that is penned in… it just never works and Poch has done it so many times it’s really mind boggling.
The players that should have been subbed in were Lamela and Wanyama. Either would have provided more running and tackling in midfield. Wanyama could have come in for Sissoko, Lamela in for Dele.
Neither is a perfect fix for what the match needed, but I believe either sub would have had MUCH more positive effects on the game compared to the subs Pochettino actually made.
The final 10 minutes of the match were severely UN-watchable. Throwing the entire team in the box and hoofing it long from our keeper like a relegation battling team…
This defeat felt even more damaging than the one at Burnley but this is not the time to feel sorry for ourselves.
There is still a lot left in the season to fight for. COYS!