In heroic victory on Thursday against Dnipro, our defensive deficiencies were all too clear; no composure, a clear lack of positional sense and poor decisions, cause a recipe for concern going into the final, season defining months of the season. Worryingly, a Dnipro side with 10 men managed to burst our defences all too often on Thursday night, having numerous chances to grab that tie changing second goal; thankfully they didn’t however, thanks to the role played by Hugo Lloris and his goal frame.
This defensive frailty is one that has not been there all season. Nobody needs to be reminded of our ability to implode, but a defence which earlier in the season had been one of the best, has transformed into one that has now kept just 4 clean sheets, in 22 matches in all competitions, since our Manchester meltdown in late November. Compared that too our first 19 games this season, in which we kept 13 clean sheets, and so you see my worry.
The Manchester drubbing acted as a catalyst and was swiftly proceeded by humiliation at the hands of Liverpool and City again. These results have clearly left the team’s defensive confidence in tatters. Anxiety and panic has swept through our defence like a plague; so much so the normally infallible Vertonghen looks nervous. Captain Dawson likewise, who is limited at the best of times, is diving in and launching his trademark one in ten long ball with increasing frequency whilst Rose and Naughton are simply not good enough for a prospective Champions League team.
As such any hope of a return to the top 4 and a run into the final stages of the Europa League hinges on 4 key men. Walker is one, but there is ever more significance placed upon the imperious defensive trio of Vertonghen, Kaboul and Sandro staying fit and playing regularly together. If these 3 leaders can return and play the majority of games from now until the end of the season, we will have a far better chance of succeeding. Encouragingly, with all 3 having played some part in at least one of our last 6 matches, signs of a defensive revival are there; conceding just 4 in our last 6 games but this simply must continue, especially if we are to come through daunting March still relatively ‘in the mix’.
Thus, the solution to the Tottenham defensive deficiencies is simple, and lies in 3 key men down the spine of our team; if Vertonghen, Kaboul and Sandro can combine down the stretch, they may just give us the vitamins needed to cure our defensive deficiencies.
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