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Sporting and Leicester City

Sporting and Leicester City

Terrific progress with my eyes this Sunday morning. They have been weeping constantly for about  months now but this morning they feel a lot lot better.

I'll just have to be careful not to overdo it with the laptop or with the TV, still take an afternoon rest and get the eyes into the dark of an evening.

Overdo it now and I'll strain my left eye, whish wont help my ear clear up and the tinnitus go. 

I know eye problems are coming when my left ear blocks, I get the constant ringing and the left side is like it's full off cotton wool, all muffled affecting my hearing and being unable to know what volume I'm speaking at.

Anyway on to football and let's briefly cover the last two games.

Sporting vs Spurs

Sporting vs Spurs

The Sporting vs Spurs game went as expected, a tight affair and a goal to settle it.

Yes, I know the score, but the 90th minute winner won it. 

My impressions.

1. Kane's passing was poor, nowhere near his usual standard.

2. Richarlison couldn't control the ball enough and gave it away or lost it too often. 

3. Højbjerg had a poor creative game, passing the ball away or failing to control it. Looked tires for the last quarter

4. Emerson Royal had already admitted defeat for their second goal, wasn't tight enough for the first, he should have affected the jump putting their player off balance..

Again, Spurs looked solid and not in any great danger but when you are wasteful with the ball sometimes you pay with a defeat.

Richarlison has upset the balance of the front three and is learning to integrate. He brings something to the mix but it's an adaption process for all the front players to learn to play He has upset the balance of the front three and is learning to integrate with a new member.

Now, as some are prone to misinterpreting what I write, on a regular basis it seems, I had better explain that I'm now going to make a couple of points that are not excuses, but are being put forward for intelligent discussion, as potential contributing factors.

1. Death of The Queen - 
2. Atmospherics - 

I offer this as a discussion point because pinpoint Harry Kane was overhitting every medium, long range pass, Højbjerg was overhitting aerial passes, the defence were overhitting long passes, there was an abundance of it, so why?

Players weren't as a group, all suddenly passing the ball harder, neither were they all suffering from extra anxiety forcing mistakes, so why?

The death of The Queen has affected many, even hypocrites who call themselves Republicans (are they American then) are attending Royal events.

Antonio Conte himself went to Buckingham Palace to pay his respects and soak up the atmosphere.

It is a sad time and it affects mentality.

Off the field problems do matter to a footballer, they are human, they have feelings just like the rest of us and if even a fraction of their mind is on other matters then preparation for a game is affected and performance is affected.

It is the tiny things that make a different between the level, between good and excellent, between excellent and elite and th eoh so often overused term world class.

Messi, Ronaldo, Maradona, Cruyff, Pele, Charlton, Greaves, Banks, Moore, these are world class players, not some dude who can get an international cap like Trent Alexander-Arnold, as some clown trued to suggest to me.

If you are not of that ilk, you are not world class, just a good international player. There is an overlooked difference.

Take the mentality away from these players and you take away part of the skill, or at least the execution of it.

So mere mortals, like Tottenham players, who mentally are not 100% focussed for whatever reason, are affected and produce a lesser individual performance.

When you are a cog in a functioning machine, one cog out can stop the machine working, Two or three performing below par and goals are going to be hard to come by.

Shots on target were hard to come by.

wonder if there was a contributing factor there, it is something we will never know, but I'd suggest it would be.

That brings up to my next and controversial point, atmospherics.

Did the weather play a part?

I have not researched this so I don't know.

was searching round for reason for all the overhit balls by so many players, so, if you kick a ball in the UK and kick one with exactlky the same force in Portugal, would one ball travel further through thinner air than the other?

We know it does, we know if you go to altitude it travels further because the air is thinner, but we aren't talking altitude here.

Does the air get thinner nearer the equator?

It makes sense, to a layman like me anyway, that if you kick a ball is 'heavy' weather, damp conditions where the air is holding more moisture it won't travel as far as sunny conditions.

As a collective then, were the Tottenham players unable to adjust to the conditions quickly enough.

God I'd make press conferences more interesting wouldn't I, I'd baffle all these 'limited thinking' reporters.

Spurs vs Leicester City

Spurs vs Leicester City

Yesterday's Spurs vs Leicester City game the front players were wasteful again, not keeping hold of the ball when it was played out from the back.

Perišić looked all at sea at right-back, missing tackle after tackle, two in fact for their goal before Sánchez didn't control his emotions, let anxiety get the better of him and rashly dived in too early, then being unable to pull out and a definite penalty.

Spurs seem to be trying to develop a one touch passing game and naturally it goes wrong a lot, but as Conte keeps saying, we are at the beginning of the process, not the end.

It looked to be a tired, sloppy performance, where perhaps the players didn't give Leicester enough respect.

Having gone, one down to one up, we weren't clinical enough at that point. It was like we relaxed, the intensity drops, we are more casual and we got punished to go in level in a game we should have been winning easily.

The second half was a different kettle of fish and Son got the goals that haven't been going in, proving he isn't out of form as everyone bar me has been claiming.

As he said, yes there has been some poor finishing, but equally some good saves, a disallowed goal, an own goal because of him, hit the bar, the post and of course being chopped down when through against Marseille.

Aside from putting the ball in the net there hasn't been anything wrong with his game. He has ad an assist and an assist where the goal was disallowed.

It is a concern that Harry Kane's passing wasn't at it's top standard once again, but 6-2 is 6-2 and the players can forget about club football for a bit.

Matt Doherty didn't get a game, even though Emerson Royal was rested and Perišić was a bit of a disaster at right-back. What does the future hold for him?

Sánchez was replaced by Romero, having one again proved he doesn't have it mentally so  I do hope we seek a replacement in the summer.

Everyone raves over Bissouma, I still don't see it myself, always thought he was selfish and Brighton and just wanted to do everything himself, whereas at Tottenham that isn't a role that fits in our midfield.

Over the next two windows I'd suggest we would be looking for a quality right-back, at least one centre-back, if not two, a quality box-to-box midfielder and an attacker who can play on the left, on the right and as an central attacking midfielder.

Spurs already have a new left-back doing well again this season in Italy, Destiny Udogie, so Ryan Sessegnon will have to continue to raise his game.

Fraser Forster gave Sonny a big hug after the game, once again highlighting his role as a shoulder to cry on, a squad bonder, a father figure to the young players, all the unseen environment creation work, quite apart from his role as number two goalkeeper.

After the game Conte spoke of mentality again, you can see why I like him so much.

He says he wants the team to think with a superior klevel, not to stay in the middle.

If you are guaranteed a start, or a player thinks he is going to start every game then he isn't going to reach that superior level, unless he has a winning mentality like Harry Kane.

This is work the 1st team sports psychologist can certainly help with and part and parcel of why I say sessions with him should be a regular part of any players training.

A sports psychologist will help a player improve his mentality faster than a player who has to learn to do it himself.

Adjusted Premier League Table

Adjusted Premier League Table

Manchester City have played two promoted teams.
West Ham United away 7th
Bournemouth at home - 
Newcastle United away 11th
Crystal Palace at home 12th
Nottingham Forest at home - 
Aston Villa away 14th
Wolves away 10th
17 points

Liverpool have played two promoted teams.
Fulham away - 
Crystal Palace at home 12th
Manchester United away 6th
Bournemouth at home - 
Newcastle United at home 11th
Everton away 16th
9 points

Tottenham Hotspur have played two promoted teams.
Southampton at home 15th
Chelsea away 3rd
Wolves at home 10th
Notts Forest away - 
West Ham away 7th
Fulham at home - 
Leicester City at home 8th
17 points

Chelsea have played no promoted teams.
Everton away 16th
Spurs at home 4th
Leeds United away 17th
Leicester City at home 8th
Southampton away 15th
West Ham at home 7th
10 points

Manchester United have played no promoted teams.
Brighton at home 9th
Brentford away 13th
Liverpool at home 2nd
Southampton away 15th
Leicester City away 8th
Arsenal at home 5th
12 points

Arsenal have played two promoted teams.
Crystal Palace away 12th
Leicester City at home 8th
Bournemouth away - 
Fulham at home - 
Aston Villa at home 17th
Manchester United away 6th
Brentford away 13th
18 points

By assigning 21st place to the three promoted teams, we can calculate the approximate strength of the opposition played so far, based on last seasons form.

Simply add their finishing places together. A lower number indicate harder fixtures and a higher number indicates you have played teams who finished lower last season, therefore theoretically easier fixtures.

The updated table below shows the strength of the games played by the expected top six so far.

The higher the places (played) figure, the easier the fixtures, so of the top three in the Premier League table going into the international break, Tottenham have had the hardest fixtures, followed by Man City and the Gunners have had the easiest set of fixtures.

Hardest to Easiest Fixtures
Manchester United 52 places (12 pts) 0.2308 per place
Chelsea 67 places (10 pts) 0.1493 per place
Tottenham Hotspur 85 places (17 pts) 0.2000 per place
Liverpool 87 places (9 pts) 0.1034 per place
Manchester City 96 places (17 pts) 0.1771 per place
Arsenal 98 places (18 pts) 0.1837 per place

The number of points gained divided by the strength of the opposition (places figure) gives us a figure achieved per place.

This allows us to put together a league table showing howell teams are playing compared to their Top 6 rivals.

Points Per Places Played Table
1. Manchester United - 0.2308
2. Tottenham Hotspur - 0.2000
3. Arsenal - 0.1837
4. Manchester City - 0.1771
5. Chelsea - 0.1493
6. Liverpool - 0.1034

There as no change in the adjusted Premier League Expected Top 6 this week but with a crushed fixture list, it is good news for Tottenham that we have got in an extra game than Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, particularly as we gained three points from it.

Those three teams now have two fixtures to rearrange and crush into their already crowded schedules, presumably in the new year.

Six goals also means Spurs (18) are the second highest goalscorers in the ELP, after Manchester City (23), Arsenal 3rd (17).

It is the same order with goal difference, Manchester City +17, Tottenham +11, Arsenal +10.

2,088 words



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  1. What a game against Leicester!

    On another day the poor refereeing could easily have cost us all the points. The penalty looked a good decision originally, but not sure how the VAR missed that Sanchez pulled out of the challenge and that the very small contact he made had nothing to do with the dive the striker then performed starting with his left leg (minor contact to standing right heel) that just stopped running as he launched himself to the floor. Contact is fine. It's only a foul when it materially affects the play - thus it was no foul & no penalty. I don't claim a yellow was due as there was contact & I always feel exaggeration is acceptable when referees ignore so many fouls simply because a player stays on their feet.

    Three brilliant goals from three successive penalties - except the last was disallowed because the keeper jumped into a player, already high & aiming for the ball, and made contact with his arm - without playing the ball. A nonsense decision. Thoroughly ridiculous. Closer to a penalty than a reason to disallow a goal.

    Shortly afterwards Ndidi did two professional fouls in quick succession, yet wasn't properly penalised for either. Later (2nd half) he was booked for a third but obviously that was just a yellow due to the ref's earlier mistakes. Later in that 2nd half Daka attempted to put the ball in the net with an outstretched hand and was booked. Have the rules changed? A deliberate handball in the box either to score or save a goal is no longer an immediate red? It turns out that this is still true for denying of a goal but not for attempting to score. Was I misremembering? Are those who make the laws stupid?

    Is anyone still moaning about our Sonny after that performance? One would guess not. I was actually more impressed with our play in the week, but we managed to get it together in the second half and cut down on the unforced errors. Luckily Leicester were below par themselves. Other teams may have punished us further - but then other refs may have ensured at least we got all the goals we scored and they only got the valid ones they did.

    Bizarrely, I didn't think the ref was too bad overall. It was just strange that the errors he made had enormous effects on the game, and particularly the score. Other times they can be completely atrocious but barely affect the score.


    PS. I hope you get better soon Clive. Positive thoughts on their way to you.

    1. Good to read your comment & I agree on the refereeing which I thought was ok in the sense that it allowed the game to flow without becoming disorderly. I don't think the decisions that went against Spurs were necessarily incorrect. Sanchez created the penalty situation himself with a poor attempt at a pass/clearance and the outcome was not unexpected. Mistakes like that will continue to be punished and it was good to see Lloris is not lingering on the ball so much, inviting similar pressure. Leicester definitely benefited from some decisions that were borderline contentious but it didn't affect outcome much as we won comfortable in the end. For me, it really was a great game to watch. I was hooked from the kick-off. Leicester were pretty good and only let down by scrappy defending which makes sense as they've lost a key player or two.

      The commentators were making it sound like a mistake that Conte didn't start Son. I couldn't agree less. They were banging on and on about how humble he is. No idea if he's humble but he is a respectful person and seemingly tries to conduct himself as good role-model. He appears to encourage his team mates and doesn't put himself above them so maybe that is their definition of humility. I think it's a good opportunity and a reset for a player who is playing constantly but not quite finding the key, to sit out a half and watch how the game unfolds. I think it helps them understand very quickly where they need to be and what they need to do to, to have an impact when they come on to the pitch. I can't understand how a good player would take it as an insult or offense, if they are indeed "humble".
      Tim Sherwood does annoy sometimes with his "insight" into what is going on in a player's mind :)

      Giving Son a rest also allowed Richarlison to start and it is important that players are rotated. I hope that Harry gets rested as well.

    2. Hi Blind Willie.

      I can't argue with any of that. I would have been surprised if the penalty hadn't been given, but looking at it forensically, I don't believe it was a correct decision. The ref I easily understand, but VAR should have seen that as a dive in my view. From that point you check the actual contact. Does it lead to the player being disadvantaged? Hard to be absolutely sure of course, but for me it was pretty clear.

      As you say though, the ref wasn't too bad overall and certainly didn't have too negative an impact. Let's put it this way - I can live with that. I also didn't feel he was trying to be unfair, and that's the most important bit for me.

      I do agree about Sonny too. It doesn't seem to have hurt him too much to have been rotated ;-)



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