Defensive Slips Cost Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The final result yesterday flattered Chelski as we did not deserve to lose by that four goal margin.

In the first half we had more possession, we played a very effective high defensive line, gaining numerous offside decisions and restricting them to just two shots – both off target. Admittedly we only had two shots but one – the snap shot from Sandro well saved by Cech – was on target.

Playing a weird 4-1-4-1 formation with no outright wingers (despite Lennon and Siggy being in the team) we compressed the play and for 55 minutes it worked. Chelski simply could not cope with our constant hounding and harrying, but then disaster struck.

In attempting to take on an opponent Vertonghen´s feet slipped from beneath him and as he hit the deck he twisted and kicked the ball in the general direction of where Kaboul should have been. Unfortunately Kaboul was at that moment feeling his calf and so, was out of position. Instead the ball fell to Eto´o and the ball was in the net.

A few minutes later and yet another slip, only this time it was Eto´o himself who stumbled under minimal contact from Kaboul. It was not a foul, let alone a penalty or a red card yet once again we found ourselves 2 goals behind, and down to ten men, against one of the favourites to win the Premier League.

With four defenders still on the pitch the sensible thing to do would have been to re-arrange the defence, move Vertonghen into the middle and put Walker in at full back – left or right – withNaughton on the other flank. Instead Sherwood inexplicably moved Sandro into central defence, leaving the midfield wide open.

There is no point in Sherwood criticising his player´s “lack of character” when the tactics he employed were – on this occasion – unfathomable.

Of course he had no option but to deploy Vertonghen centrally when Dawson went off, but again he kept Walker in midfield. We showed good spirit but were always on the back foot and then, with just two minutes remaining, Sandro slipped whilst attempting to clear and presented Ba with the opportunity to make it three, which soon became four when Walker´s long backward header failed to reach Lloris with Ba slipping in and prodding the ball into an empty net.

Some people – Sherwood included – have suggested that we capitulated yet we played 30 minutes with ten men, lost our captain to injury and held out for all but those last two minutes. Hardly capitulation.

But we must pick ourselves up and get on with the rest of the season, starting with Benfica on Thursday.

The defence virtually picks itself as Kaboul will be available – any ban he gets will only affect league games – while Dawson will not be risked even if he recovers from his injury – he will be needed for game against Le Arse unless Chiriches has recovered fully.

But we need goals, so who occupies the forward positions will be critical. Hopefully Eriksen andDembele will be fully fit as they will be needed to unlock the Portuguese giants defence – we need a serious advantage to take to Lisbon if we are going to progress.

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  1. that is the most accurate sensible non knee-jerk reaction assessment of the game, the players effort and tims tactical awareness that i have read so far. If only tim himself had been able to come up with it we might still have a chance to make top 4 or progress in europe. instead thanks to his public outburst of condemning the players what chance is there of them putting in a shift now until the end of the season. would you want to play for him, i wouldn't. hopefully the players have more about them than he suggests and do it for the fans. unfortunately if they do then tim will reap the benfits, claim the credit and possibly cling on to the job. That would be a disaster. better to finish 7th, lose out on europe, change the manager, get rid of anyone who doesn't want to play for the shirt and the fans, and start again. Stop blaming Levy and give him credit that we are pushing for top 4 place regularly instead of the mid table club we were under Sugar.

  2. Just one point on Tim's tactics.Why play Bentaleb in all the important games while Erikson keeps the bench warm.Three weeks ago i said Spurs would end up 7th in the P.L and their Europa cup run would end shortly.Lets face it playing Bentaleb and Naughton in the same team is not going to take Spurs to C.L football.I think Bentaleb will be a good player in about two years time and should only be used when playing teams lower than Spurs. All four goals on Saturday were soft and poor mistakes.Turn the table on the penalty,if that was Bale in a Spurs shirt going down the way Eto fell to the ground he would of been given a yellow card.No penalty and some poor refereeing in the first half with regards to his yellow card decisions.I was very impressed with Benfica last week and if Tim plays more kids i have no doubt we will be out of the Europa cup.

  3. The plan was working, win the ball early press them, harass, hit them on the break and we were doing very well, the ball was going round the white shirts, we created chances and were well on top. I was watching it with my mate and we said "you know exactly whats gonna happen here, a cock up and a dodgy decision and we're gonna lose". Right on cue, Vertonghen slips… Bang, 1-0 down. But we were thinking "well thats annoying, ah well, bring on dembele for a bit more drive in the middle, soldado, go 4-4-2 try and open… Oh penalty and a red card. Game over."

    Now you can't legislate for that as a manager, but someone has to pull the team together and say "right, we're in trouble here, lets concentrate, tighten up, and if the ball comes near you, its going away. If we adjust our expectations and all do our jobs properly we might get something, if we do then its one of the great results of our season". It's just that no one showed that initiative even in the dying seconds, every goal counts, every second counts. It's not Sherwoods fault, not Levy's fault, it's the players out there that let us down, under tough circumstances. If this was an isolated incident then you can let it lie, but this has happened on 7 occasions this season where we have gone down in such a feeble manner. To not thank the fans either is a bad sign. There is no togetherness, it is very worrying.

  4. The 0-0 half time scoreline meant that there was only going to be one effective half-time team talk…guess who by? We have a problem of inexperienced management off the pitch and a lack of leaders on it, as well as too many players who look like they don’t want to be there! Our best bet now looks like finishing outside a Europa league place next season and another year of rebuilding starting in May- assuming we can attract a decent new manager and several key signings.

  5. As a club we need to be realistic and take a hard look at the quality of the defensive players and the mentality in the squad. Other than Kaboul and to some extent Vertonghen we mediocrity in central defense. The lack of pace in our so called dependable s in Dawson and Chiriches has cost games that we should have won. The damage has already been done, a hundred million spent so a road map looking forward has to be laid down. Offload lamella ,Dawson and any other suspect players go into the summer window and look for 2 pacey central defenders and a proven goal scorer that has experience in the EPL. If Sherwood is given the right material in terms players to work with I am confident that he can instill a winning mentality in the dressing room.
    With the right players, possessing above average attributes, winning mentality and hunger for success we will be able to see our club move from the WISHFUL THINKERS of the EPL to title contenders and reclaim our riteful status amongst Europe's elite

  6. In the end it's the players job to execute, Spurs had several scoring opportunities in the first half but failed due to poor execution , one instance around. 34 min when Walker went down the right wing and clearly had an open right winger waving for a pass; instead he took the ball down toward the goal
    line and lost any angle to,pass as the defender and goal keeper had him covered. The TV analyst went on about this for a good 30 sec afterwords. The first 5 min were incredibly sloppy and they played with little conviction. These guys are highly paid professionals who need to take responsibility .IMHO


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