The midweek Champions League defeat for Tottenham Hotspur against Inter Milan as we opened up our European campaign created plenty of talking points.
Or overall performance, the form of individual players as we slipped to three defeats on the spin, manager Mauricio Pochettino’s presumed meltdown in his press conference following the final whistle and so on.
On social media, one thing caught my eye and that was the criticism Poch received for substituting Erik Lamela for Harry Winks in the 72nd minute of the game.
History will show just over ten minutes after that decision our hosts at the San Siro scored the leveller, before going on to secure the winner – some think it was coming, others believe it to have been a harsh defeat given relative chances.
The belief that things would’ve turned out differently had Lamela remained on the pitch was a theme for a number of fans.
Why..Erik is the only pace and penetration we have had.
— Mike Arkwright (@mrarkers) September 18, 2018
Why not take off Dier instead? Lamela has been playing really well
— |R|S (@zerofoxgiven75) September 18, 2018
There’s certainly reason to think an alternative substitution would’ve been a safer move and football is all about opinions and fans see things differently all the time.
Trying to take perception out of it, WhoScored had Christian Eriksen as our standout performer as I’ve covered previously.
Come the fulltime whistle, Lamela went off as our fourth best player on statistics production, and Winks was heavily disappointing as he didn’t really get into the game – 6.61 v 5.88 respectively. However, Lamela had 31 touches in his 71 minutes and a pass accuracy of 63.2, Winks managed 14 touches with an accuracy of 80%.
You can’t compare apples and bananas but as a comparison Son Heung-min was substituted as our fifth best player (6.57) in minute 63, and his replacement Lucas Moura ended in third place (6.69). 37 touches to 24.
Lamela might have looked more lively and chased around, he obviously created the assist on the day and got two attempts on target, but 31 touches in 71 minutes isn’t really anything to write home about.
It’s the difference between putting the effort in and achieving something and the just running around.
Statistics don’t tell the full story though, running around with no perceived benefit doesn’t account for putting the opposition under pressure to the benefit of a colleague and so on, so undoubtedly the move would’ve had an effect, but I’m not sure it was to the degree some believe or the silver bullet in determining the final outcome.