Article by Alex McMurray – Follow @AlexMcMurray6
Coming into this match, there was as much reason for spurs to be optimistic as there was for them to be scared. Manchester Utd were on a horrid run of form, luckily scraping a win against Leicester on the first day before suffering a brutal defeat to Brighton, meanwhile Spurs had won each match of their premier league campaign, with the talk of the lack of signings now in the rear view mirror. However, when our captain Hugo Lloris was arrested for failing a breathalyser test just a few days before, doubts began to creep back into the minds of fans, especially when Hugo was revealed to start. These fears manifested in a shaky, mistake ridden first half where we were lucky to escape with a clean sheet. However, in the second half the tale changed entirely as a now resolute spurs battered united with 2 goals in quick succession and a third later in the game. A fantastic result for the squad as a whole, but how good was each individual?
Hugo Lloris – 8: While many didn’t expect this man to start, and even more expected someone else to wear the captain’s armband, Pochettino showed faith in his captain and Hugo proved it to be the right decision. Though none of United’s shots were particularly challenging, he was always in the right place at the right time, dealing with corners particularly well and limiting the danger of players like Lukaku and Fellaini. This was the perfect first step for Lloris to salvage his damaged reputation.
Danny Rose – 6.5: Many fans were shocked to see the English outcast named in the starting line-up, with media reports linking him to various foreign clubs before the European transfer deadline day. They were even more shocked by Danny’s abysmal start to the game, rarely playing a pass right, and nearly gifting United the opening goal if not for a shocking Lukaku miss. As the game progressed into the next half he, like all the other players, greatly improved, though his shocking start which must be due to rust from a lack of game time cannot allow his score to exceed 7.
Jan Vertonghen – 7: Jan played a very similar game to Danny, without a terrible back pass that almost dearly cost us. He was shaky at the start of the game, with many defensive and passing mistakes, but in the second half was much more secure. Not a particularly noteworthy performance for the Belgian, but still an important one.
Toby Alderweireld – 8.5: The best of the back 4 tonight, Toby once again showed spurs fans why he is one of the best defenders in the world. As the defence made problems left right and centre, one man stayed calm and collected, getting in many crucial tackles, heading away crosses and ensuring that the pressure could be alleviated from Lloris’ goal and moved upfield. Toby put on a fantastic display to cope with the large amount of pressure from United and we can only hope that he can keep it up.
Keiran Trippier – 8: Trippier was far better as an attacking threat than a defensive rock tonight. Having to deal with Luke Shaw, who has been a shining light in United’s lacklustre season, the Englishman had his hands full but coped with him at least competently. When attacking however, he was a whole different player. Providing the initial assist for Harry Kane with a pitch perfect cross, he also picked out Christian Eriksen with a fantastic through ball for the Dane to create the second. Another solid performance by the standout member of England’s world cup squad.
Eric Dier – 7: This was not an awful performance from Dier tonight, but like with most of the defence, Eric suffered from a mistake ridden start to the game. No significant mistakes were made, but Dier didn’t do much to particularly change the game, though for the role that he plays, it isn’t a particularly bad thing.
Moussa Dembele – 7.5: Dembele’s first start of the Premier League campaign showed us all how important he really is. Though his first half performance was mediocre, his second half was classic Dembele. He moved the ball forward powerfully and with pace, and it was very difficult for the players to get the ball off him. His defensive work was slightly better than usual also as he had to cover for the mistake ridden defence making Dembele a pivotal part of both the defence and attack.
Dele Alli – 9: Alli’s performances this season have been nothing short of sensational. After being heavily criticised for a lacklustre season last time out, Alli has proven all the doubters wrong by stringing together multiple man of the match worthy performances, though he hasn’t escaped with the coveted award tonight thanks to a certain Brazilian. Dropping deep and surging forward, Alli looked for every opportunity to win back the ball and more often than not came away with it. His passing was accurate, and his dribbling was sharp, but he was slightly disappointing in terms of creating and taking chances, though this is likely due to Pochettino’s decision to have him in a deeper role to compensate for Moura playing as a strike partner to Kane.
Christian Eriksen – 8: With another assist under his belt, Christian Eriksen has slowly but surely returned to top form. The best creative outlet across the game, Eriksen made a good few runs and put in some great crosses. He was unlucky not to get a few more assists but pretty much everyone on the pitch had an ‘unlucky’ first half.
Harry Kane – 8.5: The spurs Talisman has clocked in to score another goal in August, and outside of that provided a very solid display, if not for a rather disappointing second half. The goal was stunning, an incredible looping header that De Gea could not reach and he could easily have gotten a second if Alli’s slight hesitation didn’t waste a golden chance. His overall play in the first half was not great but nothing particularly bad. His second half was a marked improvement, taking a more hand on role in build up and passing play, allowing Lucas to run forward more to great effect.
Lucas Moura – 9.5: There can’t be much doubt in the minds of fans anymore that we have something special on our hands. The bald Messi put on a clinical performance tonight, and was the best player on the pitch by a mile. His low centre of gravity made it incredibly hard for the tall lumbering United defenders, particularly Phil Jones, to handle him, and his dribbling ability was incredible, both early in the game where he should have earned a penalty and later in it, sneaking past Smalling to smash in his second of the game. His positioning was superb making it easy for Eriksen to tee it up for him for his first and his Pace was astonishing. If not for a surprisingly low passing accuracy, he would surely have earned a 10 but this was as close to a perfect performance as we are likely to see for a while.
Substitutes and Manger
Serge Aurier, Ben Davies and Harry Winks – All 7: Where in previous games, Pochettino’s substitutions have been used to change tactics and change the game, his substitutions today were to shore up the defence and ensure the 3 points. None of the substitutions did anything of note, but they performed their functions well and did everything that could have been asked of them.
Mauricio Pochettino – 8.5: Another great tactical display from Pochettino, though I shudder to think of what his half time team talk was. He would surely have been disappointed by the first half performance but did well to tweak the team and improve on it in the second half. His decision to play Moura as a striker is paying dividends, and he can only be proud of the squad and himself for handing Mourinho his largest home loss of his entire career.