Tooffless against the Tooffees


Yet another clean sheet – our 13th in all competitions this season – but no goals to show for it – for only the second time this term – means our first goalless draw of the campaign. That we dominated the first half and they the second gives the impression of it being a true game of two halves but was it simply that?

Everton made no great changes to their system at half time and waited well into the second period before making any changes in personnel – something which did admittedly have an immediate impact on the game with no ending result – so why was there such a difference in performance levels from both teams?

We started with exactly the same team which lumbered to a 1-0 victory against Hull last Sunday, while Everton had made just one change, but the telling statistic may be that while Everton enjoyed a match-free midweek, three of our starting eleven played the full 120 minutes against Hull again in midweek with Chiriches coming on for the final 50 minutes or so. Were we simply getting tired – especially in defence and in the engine room of midfield?

We have seen Paulinho getting weary towards the end of some matches (not only does he play virtually every game for us but he also has had to travel half way around the globe for Brazilian friendlies) and whilst I am not singling him out for criticism it was a strange decision to keep him on and replace Sandro with Dembele – another of those who played the full stint in midweek.
Sandro is the rock on which our defensive core is based – we have not conceded a goal this season while he has been on the pitch – and he would have been fresh compared to our other two central midfielders.

But this is not the entire reason.

In the first half which we dominated with more possession, more territory, more chances, more corners, in fact more of everything, did we carve out any truly decent goalscoring opportunity. We had a number of long range efforts which tested their keeper, shots from Sandro, Walker and Townsend all spring to mind, while Lennon should have shot when inside the area yet opted to chip a cross, but none of these was a clear cut chance.

Yet, there was one true opportunity.

After six minutes Lennon got a yard of space, clipped the ball onto the head of Soldado who put it a yard wide. Had that gone in we could all be talking a totally different story.
Again I am not singling out Soldado for individual criticism – it is afterall about the only decent chance he has had all season apart from his goals against Tbilisi and from the penalty spot – but these type of chances need to be converted, yet we are simply not creating enough.

We have possession and generally use it well. We have creative players capable of delivering the telling balls, but we are simply not finding other Spurs players in the correct positions. Players like Soldado and Defoe – predatory goalscorers – need the ball to feet inside the penalty box to enable them to do their job. We are simply not doing that.

What was evident was that we lacked width – apart from overlaps from Walker and Vertonghen – as both Townsend and Lennon were employed on the wrong wings as inverted wingers, able to drift inside to get on their “stronger” foot, rather than get to the byeline and deliver a telling cross.

Whilst I accept the argument that inverted wingplay can be a bonus, we have – in those two players as well as others (Lamela is a prime example) on the bench – wingers more than capable of playing on both flanks, so why not swap them over for ten to fifteen minutes half way through each period, let them have a go at a different defender, pose different problems for the opposition.
But again this is not the biggest problem.

When we do get telling balls into the area, crosses or through balls, there is generally only one player – Soldado or Defoe depending on who is playing – available on the end of it. Eriksen and Holtby do not get into the area, you rarely see Townsend or Lennon, Siggy or Lamela, challenging for high balls, Paulinho does but Dembele and Sandro do not.

And that – in my humble opinion – is the problem.

With all our pressing and our creativity when we get the ball into the box there is no-one there to take advantage. If we are to employ box to box midfielders they need to get on the end of it. Our wingers and the “Number Ten” need to get in there as well.

Commit more players into the area, deliver the ball in there and more goals will come. Simples!

And whilst we are on the subject of scoring goals – did anyone notice some notable goalscorers from other games at the weekend? Caulker scored a corker and a MOTM performance in the Welsh derby. Jenas, of all people, opened the scoring for QPR and even Dawkins – the longest serving ever THFC player never to pull on a first team shirt – got on the scoresheet for Derby.

How difficult is it to put the ball in the back of the net?

BUT, having said all that, we are fourth in the Premiership, level on points with second placed Chelsea and third placed Liverpool. We are all but into the knock out stages of the Europa. We are in the Quarter Finals of the CapOneCup.

So, we are not playing that well. We are not scoring that many goals. BUT, we are getting results.

And results count. Bottom line. Results count.


Have something to tell us about this article?


  1. Its time AVB told the players where to play and not the other way around. { which Bale was a prime example, now being copied by .Townsend } Wingers on their respective wings, make the run, cross the ball to our inefficient strikers { Defoe not included in that }. And leave Paulinho in the dressing room, that way we will have 11 players on the pitch instead of 10 men and a headless chicken running around in circles. What a waste of good money!!

  2. @The goz

    Paulinho-waste of money??

    inefficient strikers (defoe not included)??? yep he was great against the pikeys wasn’t he.

    Players dictating where they want to play??? Do you have some inside knowledge that the rest of us don’t.

    SERIOUSLY what sort of comments are these. Paulinho is far from being a waste of money, much quicker going forward than dembele, who although being very good for us slows us down considerably when going forward. As for defoe he’s only been efficient against crap teams. As for players dictating where they play…….A statement like that doesn’t even warrant serious consideration……absolute nonsense!

    We are a new team starting to come together as a unit. Avb just needs to find his best 11 and he has nearly got it. We were bloody solid against a very good Everton side. We lack one thing, decent service for soldado. Teams are playing to stifle us at the moment, because we are a strong team. We have had a couple of dodgy performances. But bloody hell, tell me a team that hasn’t?

  3. Agree with most of this article, although Soldado had another great chance when played in by a lovely ball from Holtby but he failed to control it – lack of confidence.
    There may not have been that many clear-cut chances, we did however get into some great positions but then our decision making let us down, time after time.
    We have some whipping boys coming to the Lane Thursday, time to field a strong and attacking line-up, and hopefully confidence and inter-team understanding will be enhanced.

  4. Thought we looked good first half against everton but the games about goals if you want to win and we have to score when we’re on top like that. Can see AVB going to a 4-4-2 system on thursday to a few goals and make us alla bit happier but i’d like a 3-5-2 formation developed so that we could switch to it when needed in games that matter and have two strikers in the final third. We have some real powerful players of quality now, AVB’s task is how best to deploy them. COYS.

  5. We are lacking creativity, everyone agrees.

    At home games when teams come in defensive minded, why put in dembele/paulinho/eriksen or holtby

    Dembele isn’t creative and I feel like he’s nice but isn’t what we need

    We should deploy holtby there with paulinho and eriksen

    We would have the deep lying passer like modric up to the advanced playmaker like vdv.

    With paulinho working hard on both sides of the ball

    With Lennon on right and Townsend on left


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