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Report: Tottenham 4-3 Leeds United - Reality Bites
Sunday, 13th Nov 2022 05:47 by Lumo Michalik

Ups and downs aplenty.

Leeds were riding the crest of a wave. After failing to win in eight matches United won games against Liverpool and Bournemouth. (There was an Energy Drink Cup game betwixt those but who gives a toss?) The victories gave off the distinct whiff of those heady first three seasons of Marcelo Bielsa, when anything and everything seemed and felt possible. Results nobody expected thanks to players people had written off or never heard of. When Crysencio Summerville scored his fourth goal in as many games to give Leeds an early lead at the White Fart Toilet Bowl, I felt that feeling. That sweet, seductive we-can-do-anything feeling. Summerville going close to a second and Emerson Royal blazing over from inside our box both did little to diminish it.

And then that vicious old dog of reality bit, woke us from our reverie, sank its teeth into our hopes and dreams and tore chunks from our hearts. It’s done it so many times before that we should be inured to it by now. We should know by now that it’s rare for nice things to happen to us. But it still hurts, still kills. Every time. We so want to believe that we can beat the odds, that the impossible is in fact inevitable. Otherwise what’s the point in going up and down the country and spending God knows however much money and however much time on this mad poison?

I could devote a dozen paragraphs to this but I’ll keep it short. A Spurs corner. Clement Lenglet smashes Illan Meslier into the net. Harry Kane fouls Tyler Adams and scores one of the easiest goals he ever will with Lenglet having taken Meslier out. The billy sastards overseeing the match disregard the blatant fouls and allow the goal. 1-1.

Leeds weathered the VAR-inspired Spurs storm and hit back two minutes before half-time. Rodrigo battered the ball home on the volley for his fourth in as many matches. But from Kane’s ‘goal’ onward it always felt like it was going to be one of those days.

It was. Early in the second half Dejan Kulusevski hit a cross and it ricocheted off Rasmus Kristensen and fell to the feet of Ben Davies. His shot hit Meslier and then Kristensen before creeping over the line.

Leeds struck back again and once more through Rodrigo. Adams made a crunching yet well-timed tackle and then Marc Roca looked up and had his fellow Spaniard bearing down on goal. Into the far corner went a low and clever shot. 3-2 with 17 minutes left. Surely not? Three wins in a row? Surely not?

Of course not. This is Leeds, you fool. Another cross, another Liam Cooper blunder, a simple finish for Rodrigo Bentancur, a third Spurs goal in the 81st. And then a fourth two minutes thereafter. Another Cooper blunder, another Kulusevski assist, another simple finish for Bentancur. And then a red card for Adams. The final kick in the nuts.

I’m far from being overly keen on him as a manager but anybody trying to pin this on Jesse Marsch is being hilariously stupid. To beat one of these teams, one of the cartel, you need more or less everything to go right. The borderline criminality of VAR. That knock which knocked the stuffing out of Willy Gnonto. The deflected goals and the individual errors that spawned them. Can a manager legislate for those?

Spurs had a squad worth more than double what Leeds’ was. Where United had Luke Ayling and Junior Firpo and a bunch of children in reserve, Tottenham had senior internationals and Champions League finalists and the officials on their side. Where Leeds produced good attacks and better goals, Spurs scored a scabby one that should never have stood and two more that went in via deflections.

It’s important to note that Leeds had the performance save for their bashing of the let’s-blow-ourselves-up button after they’d gone 3-2 up. Rodrigo enjoyed his best game in ages, there was plenty of enterprising attacking on show and Adams and Roca facilitated that and had the measure of the Spurs midfield for much of the game. They would have been good value for a draw, no question. But you can play as well as you like. Reality bites, sooner or later.

If you pay peanuts you have to make do with monkeys. If you’re outwith the cartel you have to tolerate outright corruption. You buy your seat at the feast or you subsist on scraps. These are the biting realities of the Premier League. They hurt you and snap away at you and there’s little else to do other than lick the wounds and try, try and try again and hope for better luck next time. We ended up doing this as the Bielsa era neared its end. We’ll be doing it long after Marsch has gone.

This was Leeds’ last game before the eldritch abomination of the mid-season Qatar World Cup, which I will watch only so I can laugh my head off when England bottle it again and prompt hordes of angry gammons to ring up talkSPORT and blame all the ills that will have befallen them on Raheem Sterling or some other poor blighter the Sun and Mail will have gently encouraged them to hate. Only three United players will be going, and the rest of them now have several weeks of hard training ahead of them before a friendly against Real Sociedad. Perhaps they should practice barging the opposition’s goalkeeper into the net, seeing as VAR has now decreed that this is a perfectly legal manoeuvre, or is it the case that you can only do it if you’re one of the We-Know-Sweet FA’s golden boys? Answers on a postcard.

Tottenham (3-4-3): Lloris; Dier, Lenglet (Sanchez 57’), Davies; Emerson (Doherty 57’), Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Perisic: Kulusevski (Moura 90’), Kane, Richarlison (Bissouma 69’).

Unused substitutes: Forster, Gil, Tanganga, Skipp, Spence.

Leeds: Meslier; Kristensen (Joseph 89’), Koch, Cooper, Struijk; Adams, Roca (Ayling 79’), Gnonto (Greenwood 45’), Aaronson, Summerville; Rodrigo (Gelhardt 89’).

Unused substitutes: Robles, Llorente, Firpo, Gyabi, Perkins.

MOTM: Rodrigo.

Photo: Action Images

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