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Walking the Walk

Tottenham 3 - 1 Nottingham Forest: A Lilywhite's post-match thoughts following the action at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

By Matthew CurtisPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

If Tottenham's Premier League campaign were a television series, then today's story was one of those episodes that is dedicated to a fringe member of the cast, a person who's mythos is largely unknown or irrelevant. Think Doctor Who's Love and Monsters or Blink, Buffy's Superstar, that episode of Futurama about Fry's fossilised dog. Today, that guy was Richarlison, who provided practically all of the intrigue about this week's rather dead-rubber affair with his somewhat explosive interview following the midweek disasterclass versus AC Milan. He laid down the gauntlet to Antonio Conte, demanding more game-time and Conte accepted the duel. Richarlison's inclusion in the starting 11 was the Italian's reply, go on then, show me something.

Just minutes into the game, Richarlison had provided us with something that has been missing for much of the season; a forward run in behind the defence. This historically has been Son's trademark, yet he and Kane both have found themselves camped deeper than we are used to seeing. Richarlison's postive thinking was rewarded by Skipp playing an absolute Gerrard of a long-ball, high over the Nottingham back-line. Our frustrated Brazilian brought the ball down well with one touch and lashed an eye-catching finish into the roof of the net. It was Dele-esque - the empassioned actions of an emotional player, or at least that is how we choose to remember Dele.

However, a Premier League weekend is nothing without the unwarranted, miscalculating interventions from VAR. As soon as the screen came up and the camera focused on Richarlison waiting for them to make their minds up, you just knew the news was going to be bad. If you think I'm not going to bother wasting hundreds of words complaining about VAR when nothing is going to change, then you're wrong.

Two whole minutes after the goal had been scored and the men-behind-the-curtains had yet to determine which of the Forest defenders was the furthest back. They didn't know. They couldn't figure it out. Their images were too blurry, too awkwardly angled for them to get to the truth of the matter. Ultimately however, they decided to rescind the goal. This is the biggest problem with VAR. There is nothing technical or innovative about it. It is composed of the FA's same batch of referees, equipped with only a stylus, watching matches on a screen and attempting to reveal quantifiable data. Those who defend VAR and stand by their eventual decisions might tell me, offside is offside, however fine the margin. Yet, when there are only millimeters in it, it is hard for me to acknowledge that as objective fact. Where one referee might draw his line, another might be drawn differently, and there could only be millimeters between them, but those fractional discrepancies matter. Scoring goals changed games - so does unscoring them.

Richarlison had scored a fantastic goal and Spurs were 1-0 up, yet the shambling nature of Premier League officiating had compelled to revert the match to its kick-off scoreline. I stand by my belief - the goal was legal. Whatever happened in the next ten minutes, I cannot say. I was taking a walk to calm down. Thankfully, it did not take Tottenham as long to grieve their lost goal as I did and quickly went about restoring their lead. This time it was the top scorer, of this season and all-time, Harry Kane who found the net, with a cushioned, controlled effort inside the box - something that came about thanks to the efforts of the wing-backs to keep a goalscoring opportunity alive. This goal also marked Porro's first assist since joining the club in January. The first of many we hope.

It became 2-0 soon after and Richarlison was involved again. Forest had struggled on both flanks the whole half and when Joe Worrall arrived to tackle an advancing Richarlison inside his own box, he was so late I thought he might be in the early stages of a pregnancy. It was as straightforward a decision as anything you will see in your life and a stonewall penalty - not even VAR could get that one wrong. Kane stepped up and got his good penalty-taking record back on track, rifling his strike down the middle, beyond a helpless Navas.

Even Son managed a goal, again owing much to Richarlison's conviction to get Spurs moving every time we wrestled control back of the ball. Though he will be recognised for winning Kane's converted penalty, his floated cross to Son was his first clean assist on the day and Son made no mistake with the ball at his feet, some 7 yards out from goal. He's now just one strike away from joining the Premier League 100 club. We were also spared the humiliation of an Aurier goal by a remarkable, reaction save by Fraser Forster, so all in all, it was a rare day without some form of disaster at Tottenham Hotspur. When those come, enjoy them like the priceless unicorns they are.

Although Richarlison rose to Conte's challenge and had his best day at office without doubt, I won't be getting too enthused. The truth is, Nottingham Forest are the worst side that have visited the stadium in the season thus far. Their travelling fans, who were doing their job admirably, will be extremely let down by the efforts of their team, who despite managing late consolation from a corner the goal masked their performance. For much of the game, they lacked either the ability or the inclination to venture beyond the halfway line. The contentious penalty (I'm pretty sure we had one like that denied a few weeks back) saved by Forster was a small dose of justice that put a smile back on my face.

The table has us sitting healthily inside the top 4 and our immediate run of fixtures (now that we're out of all the difficult tournaments) reads very nicely, at least on paper. There are many games yet to be played, in particular by the teams chasing us down. Today, certain players walked the walk after talking the talk. Let's see what kind of mileage they have.

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About the Creator

Matthew Curtis

Queen Margaret University graduate (Theatre and Film studies).

Currently trying to write a book.

Lilywhite, Pokemon master, time-lord, vampire with a soul, Virgo.

Likes space and dinosaurs. And Binturongs. I'm very cool.

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    Matthew CurtisWritten by Matthew Curtis

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