Spurs secured their first win of pre-season in the second leg of their US tour in Toronto overnight. A half time two-nil lead was squandered in the second forty-five before Andros Townsend finished off a good counter attacking move by cutting in from the left, and finishing with his right, into the top corner of the net with less than ten minutes remaining to round off a 3-2 win. It was in every sense of the phrase ‘a game of two halves’ at BMO Field.
A strong Spurs starting XI saw Mauricio Pochettino hand a debut to new signing Ben Davies, whilst we also welcomed back Christian Eriksen who completed an attacking quarter which also included, Erik Lamela, Aaron Lennon and Roberto Soldado. Argentine Lamela’s successive overlapping, third-man runs bought about two identically abrupt finishes, as the he tripled his Spurs goal account within the opening forty; credit to Soldado for the assists.
But that wasn’t the end of the good work, the Pochettino evolution had clearly moved into stage two; there was a much better grasp to the tactics, especially in the first thirty minutes of play- pacey passing, met with fluidity of position and a hurried ‘full-court’ press, carried out in a much more slick, competent manner than it had been in Seattle. As a result, complete control of the game was ours. The back line was stable, yet untroubled, thanks significantly to the much improved performance in central midfield of Etienne Capoue and thus the full-backs could slither forward more freely, stretching the pitch, giving space to our interchangeable and creative attacking quartet. It was a very impressive first half indeed
Meanwhile, the second half saw all change- ten substitutions- bought about a more youthful Spurs side. Youngsters Ceballos, Fryers, Carroll, Falque and Kane were all introduced alongside Dawson, Walker, Rose, Holtby and Townsend contributing to a change in fortunes. A sluggish start to the second half saw all the good work of the first undone within twenty-five minutes of the restart. Again, we caused our own problems, just like in Seattle on Saturday. Although in shape Pochettino’s tactics were evident, in form, they were not; there was no pressing, little fluidity and poor, slow passes. As such, Toronto’s opening goal came from a poor loss of possession on the halfway line with full backs high up the pitch, leaving the centre half’s exposed. Teething problems, maybe. However, the second goal was more worrying, a long ball and lay off lead to a well finished one on one. Dawson and Fryers were both too far apart, and individually; Dawson not tight enough to his man, whilst Fryers fell asleep allowing the goal scorer to drift inside and punish us. Poor. As a whole, we never really had any control over the second half until the last ten or fifteen minutes, which was disappointing. The lack of a true defensive midfielder to break up the play, with a physical presence will also have contributed to this.
Nevertheless a win is a win, and the first half signs were very promising- the players who really matter seem to be gelling and understanding what is expected of them in this new era.
Moreover, a quick word on today’s signings; Davies played solidly today and I believe he is an upgrade on Rose, with huge potential, and a snip in today’s market too. Vorm meanwhile, is a top keeper who will fit our ‘sweeper keeper’ mould, allowing us to maintain an identical philosophy, no matter who is in the nets- something we couldn’t do with the ever-reliable Brad Friedel in goal- who will surely move into a greater coaching and ambassadorial role. On the transfer front- personally, I still feel we should prioritise a central defensive signing also, but there’s still plenty of time for that.
Next up, and finally on our US tour is a game in Chicago, kicking off at 1am on Sunday morning.
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