Opinion: Five things we learned from Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Brentford

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Emerson Royal Christian Eriksen
Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur dropped points yet again this week in the Premier League, just hours after Arsenal beat Man United. Let’s take a look at the five things we learned:

Back three becoming a back five – As we have said time and time again, this Conte system relies on wing-backs pushing up high, getting in behind, and making late runs into the box. Over the past two weeks, the wing-backs have become full-backs, basically switching Spurs to a back five. As such, they have been overrun in every other area of the pitch and there has been very little tempo to their attacks.

Teams figuring out the front three – Tottenham’s front three ran wild for a few weeks, but teams are starting to pick up on the patterns of play and make active efforts to stop them. Yesterday, for example, Harry Kane was outmuscled for every ball in the air or into his feet with Jansson at his back. Every time he dropped deep to find the ball, three Brentford players crowded him out to make sure he couldn’t find a pass. Meanwhile, Kulusevski had someone snapping at his ankles all game and they doubled up on him every time it went wide. Of course, quality players shine no matter what, but Spurs will need to learn how to combat tactics designed to eliminate the threat of their goalscorers.

The top four race – Spurs may have been touted as favourites a week ago, but dropping points in back-to-back games while Arsenal have beaten Chelsea and Man United is a huge blow. If Tottenham are to win the top-four race, I think they need to win every one of their games, apart from Liverpool away. Of course, that includes the North London Derby where they absolutely need to grab three points from Arsenal.

Christian Eriksen’s audition – As if he even needed one, Christian Eriksen passed his potential audition for a move to Tottenham this summer. Playing in a deeper role than we were used to him playing in North London, the Dane pulled the strings for Brentford all day long with his cross-field passes and balls in behind. Ironically, this is exactly the kind of player Spurs are missing. And even more ironically, has a potential summer signing dented their hopes for Champions League next year?

Conte’s lack of subs – It has been clear in the past couple of games that Conte is not totally satisfied with his bench options. 0-0 late on against Brighton and Brentford, he seems to leave his substitutions extremely late. Yesterday, Moura had just 10 minutes to try and turn things around. It seems as though there will be a big summer ahead with Conte bringing in new faces that suit his system.

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