On Saturday night at the Emirates, this Spurs team showed a new, unseen side of them; one many of us would have doubted they had, as an abundance of grit, character and desire yielded a well-deserved point on the road at Arsenal, during what in recent times had been one of the more dreaded games of the season.
There were simply so many positives, in a type of performance we’ve scarcely seen since AC Milan away in the Champions League; there, we won one-nil, and the only shame last night was that result couldn’t be matched.
In a break with our usual philosophy we sensibly and intelligently sat back, deep and compact in defence and regularly sprung out on lightening counter attacks. Not only were we hard to beat but we still carried a threat on the counter; Lamela drove the team up the pitch without the ball ever really falling for him and Chadli was a constant threat. One negative, was that our final ball wasn’t decisive enough, and we didn’t make the most of a number of counter-attacking situations- not until Chadli fired us ahead just before the hour mark. Adebayor had ‘one of his games’.
Nevertheless, Pochettino had set the team out superbly; lost was nativity of our games with the top four last year, and with it, individual errors disappeared too. You have to play like this away at the big clubs- something we have failed to do over and over and over. Finally, we seem to have a manager with a naturally eye-catching philosophy, but one whom is adaptable to the situation and team we play. Thank God.
In terms of playing staff, each and every defensive player was excellent. Kaboul was back to his best alongside a solid Vertonghen. Rose and Naughton stepped up to a level almost beyond belief, and Lloris was sensational when called upon. Thanks to them and the policing of Capoue in central midfield we never really looked overly threatened. Sure, we were pegged back in our half for period, but Lloris only really made two saves in the game. In contrast, had our final ball been better we could have stolen another one. Another positive, was the debutant- Ryan Mason. He patrolled the midfield area well, kept his shape and used the ball more efficiently and quicker than Dembele in recent matches. We’ll be seeing more of him, I’m sure.
All in all an excellent performance, one which with Man City, away just around the corner, hopefully we’ll be seeing again. The players and manager, should gain great confidence from this result, even in drawing. In the past we’d have capitulated or simply come and been too naïve. A game-plan and philosophy has to be adaptable depending upon a number of variables, and yesterday it was, and with it came the improved overall performance, and result.
Pochettino’s successor at Southampton Ronald Koeman said something that caught my eye in midweek; ‘Building a house you don’t start up, you start at the bottom. That makes winning teams.’ This is a warning that Spurs should have heeded a long time ago, yet finally, as yesterday showed, this is a warning we maybe are finally starting to take notice of. More defensive solidity brings better results, and when our attacking players gel, we can actually be quite good!
Reasons to be positive indeed. Up the Spurs.
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