There’s plenty of blame and disappointment to go around after we stumbled to a draw at home to Tottenham, and it’s only natural to seek out one particular individual on whom to pin the blame. The glaring mistakes from this and that individual may beguile us, though. It’s easy enough to blame Jorginho for coughing it up to Maddison to set up Son for the equaliser. Havertz blazed one gilt-edged chance over. Nketiah…well, the less said about him the better. Still, we need a scapeboat, so who’s it going to be?
Injuries to Trossard and Martinelli forced Arteta into an odd selection dilemma. Nketiah, for as limited he is through the middle, is even more limited played wide. Hence, it’s Jesus on the wing and Nketiah as striker. If either one of them finished any of the innumerable chances they had, we’d have claimed three points. Nketiah pounced on Udogie’s careless back-pass only to shoot straight at Vicario from a tight angle; Jesus dispossessed Maddison from 14 yards out only to sky his shot when a simple tap might have done the trick. Each moment was emblematic of each man’s efforts.
There. I said it. While it’s true that our starboy scored both goals (I’m counting Romero’s own-goal as Saka’s actual goal), we would be remiss in overlooking his role in Tottenham’s first goal. After taunting Maddison by imitating his dart-throwing goal celebration, Saka was woefully remiss (yes, that’s twice) in allowing Maddison to slip past him along the endline to feed Son. His defending was so slack that toreadors were taking notes. Yes, he should perhaps be credited with a brace—but he should perhaps also be saddled with an error leading to a goal.
Low-hanging fruit here. Yes, he dithered with the ball at his feet and Maddison and Son looking to pounce. There’s no way around that. HIs only option was to turn to his right to find White on the touchline, but it’s unclear whether he knew White was there or whether White made his presence known. Jorginho still struggles to shake off the shackles of being just another Chelsea reject, so any mistake he makes gets magnified. One would expect a seasoned, experienced, savvy player to demonstrate better decision-making, and one would be right.
Let’s all hate on Havertz
Speaking of Chelea’s “rejects”, Havertz had a moment when he might have slayed his demons. After coming on at halftime for an effective if not effervescent Vieira, he found himself with a free shot on goal only to blaze it high and wide. Had he found the back of the net—hell, had he kept it on frame—he might have exorcised three years’ worth of those demons. Instead, cognitive dissonance did what it does, and too many of us focused on the evidence that confirms our preconceived notions and ignored any evient that contradicts those notions. We didn’t drop points because of Havertz. Full stop.
As alluded to before, he had selection dilemmas. Shorn the services of Trossard, Martinelli, and Partey to start, Arteta also had to contend with the injury to Rice. For as much as we’d strengthened over the summer, those injuries would challenge any manager. I might have liked to see Smith Rowe start on the left in order to play Jesus through the middle, but I don’t see what Arteta sees in training. It’s entirely possible that our Croydon De Bruyne lolly-gags. Arteta shuffled the deck in ways that I disagree with it, but there are reasons that I’m an amateur blogger and he’s a Prem manager. That’s not carte blanche to let him do whatever he wants, but there’s just enough in that to suggest that might just know a touch more than I (or his critics) know.
In the end, we were undone by our own mistakes. Only the most delusional Spurs fans (redundant phrase, I know…) would claim that they outplayed us. Yes, they were brave and aggressive, but they were luckier than they were good. Had Saka closed down Maddison, had Nketiah or Jesus finished just one of the many chances they had, had Raya done better on that cross that he tipped raither than claimed…
Two mistakes, two goals.
We’re still far from our fluid best, but we’re still undefeated. That has to count for something. We win as a squad; we lose as a squad. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming any one individual player. “Victoria Concordia Crescit” is more than some fancy Latin on a crest. Those of you lucky enough to attend matches home or away, remember that you represent countless legions of fans. It’s up to you to shout and chant and cheer your support for our lads. Drown out the nay-sayers and the malcontents and the nihilists. Inspire Havertz and Nketiah and Jorginho and anyone else wearing the shirt.
We’re counting on you. Represent.