Tottenham had to work really hard to overcome Aston Villa in their first game of the new Premier League season.
The visitors took a shock lead within the first 10 minutes and defended resolutely with men behind the ball. However, Tottenham kept chipping away and creating opportunities, with the three goals all eventually coming in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer has now said that Tottenham’s front three’s unwillingness to stretch the game with their movement was what led to a lack of chances for the home team in the first half.
Sheared said during the Match of the Day show, on BBC 1 (at 10:30 pm on 10/08/2019), “The problem with Tottenham is their front three, [Harry] Kane, [Erik] Lamela and [Lucas] Moura, made it far easier for Aston Villa than it should have been [in the first half].
“At times, you could actually throw a blanket over the three of them – a lack of movement, slow and no width, and making it far easier for Aston Villa.
“Too many times that happened, with midfielders looking for a bit of movement, but the Villa back line was tight and compact, and there was no space whatsoever.
“They should be spreading, one should be coming shorter, and the other two drifting apart, to make it harder for Aston Villa.”
However, he claimed that the tactical tweak in the second half to stretch the game and the introduction of Christian Eriksen meant that spaces started appearing in the Villa backline.
Shearer added, “In the second half, it was slightly different. Seven shots in the first half Tottenham had, 24 in the second half. That tells you the big difference in what they are doing. Now that Aston Villa back four is not so confident, having to stretch, having to work a lot harder.
“They are now stretching Villa, [Christian] Eriksen comes on and he was doing different things, he was sitting in behind.
“All of a sudden, [Harry] Kane has got his first goal and then because they are spreading, he gets their second. That was the big difference, I thought, in the second half.”
Spurs Web Opinion
In a way, it was a positive that Tottenham were made to work hard on the opening day of the season. It proves that the team’s fitness and mentality are all positive coming into what will be an important season for the club. The visit to the Etihad stadium next week will be a much sterner test and will tell us a lot about the squad.
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