Opinion: Five things we learned from Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with West Ham

Tottenham Hotspur came sprinting out the traps against West Ham United last night, only to fade in the second half of the race as they struggled to unlock the door at the London Stadium.

Let’s take a look at the five things we learned from the match:

West Ham United
Photo by SpursWeb

The Creativity Vacuum –

Compare Tottenham now to the first ten games of the season. Maddison was picking out passes between the lines for fun. Bissouma was breaking the lines into smithereens with his drops of the shoulders. The full-backs were getting goals and assists from number ten positions. All of that is still happening at times, but without the dangerous consistency Tottenham were oozing at the start of the campaign.

This partly stems from the likes of Maddison and Bentancur being out of form and recovering from spells out, I think. Hopefully, Spurs can recapture the dangerous energy once they are back in full flight, but until then, they need to find a way to crank up the gears. Competition for places after another transfer window will also surely help.

The Set-Piece Problem –

Tottenham have had a set-piece problem for a number of years. For whatever reason, opponents seem to get a decent amount of joy when whipping a ball into the box against the Lilywhites. It’s a pretty annoying problem because you can completely control a game at 1-0, and then give away a seemingly innocuous corner only for the scores to be instantly levelled.

At the moment, Spurs are struggling on two fronts – Guglielmo Vicario getting blocked off and the Spurs defenders losing the first ball. Perhaps a defensive set-piece coach could be a good investment in the summer. I feel like Spurs have the players and height to deal with defensive situations better than they do at times.

A New Number Nine?

When Tottenham struggle to break teams down, especially against low blocks, I can’t help but wonder whether a proper number nine would be valuable. How many times did Harry Kane win Spurs a game with a header from nothing? I know Ange prefers a low driven cross, but it becomes a little predictable if that’s all we do. I wonder whether an Ivan Toney type could add an extra dimension to attack next season.

The Top Four Race –

Tottenham are now level on games played with Aston Villa, so we can get a sense of how the top-four race is really looking. The Villans are two points ahead of the Lilywhites with eight games left to play. Both teams also have Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool left to play, so there could be plenty of swings between now and the end of the season. Of course, fifth could be enough for Champions League too, but both Ange Postecoglou and Unai Emery would be far more content with fourth.

Kulusevski vs Maddison –

One interesting side story of the evening was James Maddison being taken off 20 minutes early when Spurs were chasing the game still. This is the second match in a week where this has happened. Kulusevski was given a little audition in the number 10 role for the final period of the match, and although he didn’t exactly set the world on fire, could it be a sign of things to come? Could James Maddison actually lose his place in the team if his form doesn’t improve? Postecoglou is seemingly not averse to taking big players off if he things he can improve the performance of the team.

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