In the past few seasons, many games in the Premiership have become like training ground exercises: attack v defence. The team with the better (more expensive) players tries to batter a less glamorous opposition. Defensive organisation often exposes frail creativity. In the moment you want to blame players but root causes more often lie with the manager.
A Defence Diamond
Playing against a lone if willing attacker in Tammy Abraham, Spurs employed four central defenders. Given the full backs have counted as our significant route to attacking threat over the past two seasons, we’re talking about Sanchez, Vertonghen and Alderweireld, along with Dier.
Interestingly, the fantastically promising, but still vulnerable Sanchez is being given ultimate responsibility in the centre. Vertonghen and Alderweireld found themselves to be the spare men in this team set up and increasingly attempted to provide an attacking threat. The trouble with this apparent bonus is that their point of attack is too narrow, deep and ponderous.
Dier, so useful breaking up the attacks of progressive teams and moving the ball on, seems superfluous here and this was a day that, when he tried things, they were hopeless.
Pegs and Holes
No blame really for playing Sonny as a wingback. (We’ve been there before though when last year after a similarly fine performance the game before he was given the role and proved disastrously unable to defend against Chelsea. Swansea aren’t Chelsea though.)
No blame for persisting with Sissoko. Far from looking arrogant, his confidence looks shot. When he went to shoot on one occasion here, he was so uncertain as to whether he should shoulder that responsibility that his body position reset at least twice and of course his shot went comically high and over. He is always marginal out wide and is clearly no winger; he needs to play centre. And therein lies the rub – the two players in that position are … well, central. We can’t afford a rehab programme of much duration at all.
The problem was switching Trips over to the left where he offered no threat. If he does anything it’s to get wide right and cross with an intelligent right foot. Thus, we killed off the supply from both flanks in one fell swoop.
Getting Ahead of Ourselves
Hey, Wembley wasn’t built in a day! We did some great business over the summer developing the defence and we weren’t able to secure our midfield targets. Clearly we need some creativity in those areas but, as ever, it’s a work in progress.
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