Former Tottenham star Jermaine Jenas has said that the current midfield is still a major area of concern for Jose Mourinho’s side and insisted that it is why Spurs are finding it hard to control games.
Tottenham put in a gritty display against Wolves on Sunday and managed to secure all three points even though the home side enjoyed sustained periods of dominance.
Jenas felt that it was Eric Dier’s and Moussa Sissoko’s lack of ability on the ball that hindered Spurs on Sunday despite the good result.
In his column for BBC Sport, Jenas wrote, “While Tottenham still ended up nicking all three points against Wolves on Sunday, they went long periods without having proper possession, or the ability to control the game that comes with it.
“Part of the problem was pairing Eric Dier and Moussa Sissoko together because they are just not good enough on the ball.
“They do not have enough guile or finesse and if you press them, like Wolves did, they will probably give the ball away more often than not.
“When that happens, you are unable to dictate the tempo of the game and you are going to concede goals.”
The former England international opined that the same thing happened in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United a couple of weeks ago as the Spurs midfielders were unable to handle the ball effectively when they were pressed.
He said, “They got away with it against Wolves, but that lack of control was what cost Spurs when they lost to Manchester United at the start of this month.
“Mourinho had Sissoko, Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier operating on the right, which brought strength and power to the team, plus athleticism – which is another attribute he likes.
“But there was very little guile there and if you pressed that side of the pitch, like United did to score their opening goal, Spurs could not get out.
“The Tottenham midfield has the same problem when Dier and Sissoko are together in a 4-2-3-1 shape. They played too many backward passes against Wolves.”
Jenas felt that the defence was coming under too much pressure due to the midfielders’ lack of ability to keep hold of possession.
He added, “What happens is the team tries to bypass them and attempts to get the ball to their front four as quickly as possible.
“That is understandable really, because of how good those forwards are, and sometimes that direct approach will work.
“But in certain games – like Wolves, United and Bayern in the past couple of weeks – you are going to be vulnerable whenever you lose the ball.
“There is only so much pressure your defence can take when you are not keeping possession, and the ball is always coming straight back at them.”
Spurs Web Opinion
While I agree with Jenas that neither Dier not Sissoko are good enough on the ball, I feel the lack of possession is by design. In the variation of the 4-2-3-1 that we seem to be employing at the moment, Mourinho seems to use his two midfield pivots just to screen the back four and recycle the ball to the defenders. We deliberately go direct to our front four in order to give them more space to do damage to the opposition.
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