Pre-Match Social Media Talking Points
The Ange Postecoglou era in North London finally got up and running in an official capacity this afternoon after Tottenham ran out 2-0 winners in a consummate performance against Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United, with the former Glasgow Celtic boss getting his first Premier League win against a domestic rival.
Spurs looked confident and fully settled into the Australian’s tactical schematics across a ninety-minute performance against a Red Devils outfit that struggled once again in the wake of a tepid matchday one win over Wolves.
United was firmly on the front foot in the first 15-minutes of action in the capital, crafting no fewer than six chances and no better than Marcus Rashford’s effort in the 13th minute when he was put through into the box from a relatively tight angle but could not guide his effort past Guglielmo Vicario.
It was a potential show of intent that was much improved over their narrow 1-0 win Monday night against a doggedly-determined Wolves outfit, with the Red Devils facing a fair bit of criticism given how apathetic they were going forward.
Rashford once again was presented with a golden opportunity in the 23rd minute when the England man headed over from just six yards out after Bruno Fernandes played a fantastic lofted ball just over the top of Spurs’ back four. United knocked yet again just thirty seconds later through Fernandes but his effort from just outside the box was blocked well by Yves Bissouma.
But Spurs finally broke well through Son Heung-Min, who got in behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka and then danced around Raphaël Varane before laying off Pape Matar Sarr, who though slid Dejan Kulusevski into the right-hand half space, but his tame effort was comfortably held by André Onana.
Unfortunately for United, the Red Devils were once again among VAR controversy for the second weekend running after the non-penalty call against Onana late on versus Wolves, but this time, it was Erik ten Hag’s men that were denied an effort from 12-yards after Cristiano Romero was deemed to have not committed hand-ball in the box, with social media once again up in arms regarding the standard of officiating and video assistance in England.
Minutes later, it was Fernandes that would head over from six yards out after Luke Shaw found him unmarked in the area after he timed his run perfectly. Spurs continued to offer little going forward, and United were unlucky to not be up by any margin going into the final ten minutes of the first stanza.
Spurs so nearly took an undeserved one-nil lead in the 40th minute after good work from Son and Destiny Udogie down the left channel before the club captain squared to Pedro Porro whose strike from outside of the box had beaten Onana at the far post but could only rattle the bar, before their ball back into the box crashed off Onana’s near post. It would be the last major action of the first half as the two domestic rivals headed into the changing room for the half-time interval.
Spurs were intent on re-writing the script from the opening forty-five minutes and did just that four minutes after the restart when Sarr pounced on Kulusevski’s deflected ball across the face of goal for the Senegalese midfielder to slam home at the near post for what was his first league goal for Spurs in just his third start for the club.
United nearly responded instantly a minute later when Antony found enough space to send a rasping effort goal-bound, which beat Vicario, but rattled the far post and bounced clear, but Spurs nearly responded once more at the other end immediately when Maddison found Udogie at the near post but the young Italian fullback saw his low effort kick-saved by Onana.
Vicario game up big for Spurs in the 55th minute with a top-class save against Casemiro after the veteran Brazilian sent a bullet header goal-bound after meeting the ball in from the corner flag, but the newly-arrived Italian shot-stopper pulled off one of the saves of the weekend to keep Tottenham in front during a match that was becoming far more open in the second half.
Ten Hag played his first three hands of the afternoon when he made a triple change in the 66th minute, bringing on Jadon Sancho, Christian Eriksen, and Diogo Dalot for an ineffective Antony, Alejandro Garnacho, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who had a good day despite being booked by Michael Oliver.
Ange Postecoglou followed suit not long after, bringing on Ivan Perišić for a woeful Richarlison and shifting Son centrally, while also replacing Udogie with Ben Davies, with the young Italian receiving a good ovation from the home support. He then made a third change minutes later to bring off Sarr, who received a standing ovation for his excellent performance, for Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to shore up the midfield in the closing 15 minutes.
With just seven minutes remaining, Spurs would double their lead through what was first thought to be an effort from Davies after his tame shot at the near post glanced off his left foot before the effort deflected off Lisandro Martínez, rooting Onana to the turf, before ultimately going down as an own-goal.
It became increasingly clear that Spurs were once again enjoying their football on the day across a performance that was immeasurably better than what was seen under Antonio Conte, and it certainly must be said that the club has not missed a step going forward even after Harry Kane’s departure to Bayern Munich.
Come full-time the inquest would no doubt continue on the United front as the Red Devils failed to begin the season in a fashion befitting pre-season predictions that saw some pundits label them potential title challengers, while the promise of hope shown by the Tottenham fanbase regarding moving forward under Postecoglou at Spurs seems to have been justified.