Spurs this week: My thoughts

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

This has been an awful week for Tottenham. Another one. We put in an utterly abysmal performance at home to Benfica in Europe on Thursday and lost 0-1 to Arsenal at White Hart Lane. Here is a short collection of thoughts from this week…

The shambles that was the Benfica game.

Where do you even begin? I had one of my worst evenings in many years on Thursday night, as Benfica came away 1-3 winners in the Europa League. There was so much wrong with our display. So, so much.

 1.   The attitude of the players – It looked very much like Tim had totally lost the dressing room on Thursday night. The players looked dejected and you could quite clearly see that a number of them just were not putting the required effort into the game.

Aaron Lennon has been at Spurs many years, has just made his 250th Premier League appearance and has been a terrific servant to the club – but what exactly does he do? A few quick flurries of form every season seem to be keeping him at the club and Thursday typified him of late: lightweight, ineffective and offering very little. When Aaron leaves I will be devastated, obviously, but he really needs to do more.

Paulinho is saving himself for the World Cup now. I’m convinced. He knows he is nailed on to start for Scolari in Brazil’s midfield and is cruising at club level now. I would be reluctant to pick him now until the end of the season.

The other player who annoyed me was Vertonghen. Body language is always an issue for Jan, and his constant complaining at players around him doesn’t help anybody.

 2.     The team selection and Sherwood’s ‘tactics’ – As you know, I am a massive Sherwood fan compared to a lot of our fans. He has done a decent job given the circumstances and has surpassed expectation on the whole. That being said, his ‘honeymoon period’ is well and truly over and he got everything wrong on Thursday. Firstly, Harry Kane. I was happy to see him get a start, but I think all 36,000 people in White Hart Lane knew that was the wrong call. It meant playing with an open midfield, and Benfica exploited us to great effect, especially when Sandro was booked. Persisting with Eriksen on the left was wrong as well. When Rose plays left-back with Eriksen ahead of him, the natural width he provides does benefit us, but with two right footed players on the left side, they naturally drift inside and the middle of the park was congested and we had no joy. Two huge errors in personnel choice from Sherwood. As for the tactics, well, there weren’t any. We lumped the ball up to Adebayor and looked to win the second ball every single time. It was embarrassing to watch. Sherwood is one of those managers (just like Harry Redknapp) who is good at motivating squad members, massaging egos and encouraging players to win their individual battles. This gets the best out of some members of the team (like Adebayor), but a lack of tactical knowledge means we frequently come away with losses against teams of any quality.

 3.     The Benfica fans – I was very disappointed with the number of Benfica fans allowed to be sat in the home section on Thursday. I was sat in East Upper, and around 300 of them had collected next to me. Obviously, this is wrong, and would only happen in England. Our British attitude is too polite and cautious, and this should never have been allowed to happen. I saw one fan smoking, and huge swathes of Benfica fans standing up throughout the game. Any Spurs fan would have been ejected from White Hart Lane for these offences and yet no Benfica fans which I saw were. I paid £44 for my ticket, and had my match day experience affected by sat next to loud, abusive Benfica fans. I saw multiple fans complain to stewards, yet no action was taken. Shocking.

 The Derby defeat to Arsenal

Our miserable week was capped off with a home defeat to Arsenal, after Rosicky scored his second wonder goal this season and the only goal of the game early on. I said to a friend earlier, that this was the least distraught I have ever been after a loss to Arsenal, and I believe there are many positives we can take from this game. This match was all about getting a response, and this was certainly what happened. Vertonghen, Kaboul, Rose and Naughton were very good for the most part, Adebayor looked hungry, Sandro looked as enthusiastic as ever and Spurs looked very up for the battle from kick-off. Bentaleb and Sandro kept possession moving well and if Chadli had finished his chances, we could have got a result. I was very happy with the team selection as well; Tim acknowledged Paulinho and Lennon’s poor performances and dropped them. He moved Eriksen back into his more natural position and played with five midfielders which kept Arsenal at bay on the whole. I thought Tim got it spot on today and deserves credit. Tim selected two out and out wingers, and we finished the game with about 30 crosses. It wasn’t exactly a tactical master-class, but you could see that Sherwood at least recognised that our performance on Thursday was unacceptable and changes needed to be made. I still think Sherwood should go in the summer, but only because of the nature of the club at the moment. I maintain he is doing a good job under the circumstances.

Is Lewis Holtby better than Christian Eriksen?

‘I thought this was a decent article until I read the bit about Holtby and Eriksen! You are clueless!’ I can see somebody commenting that. Please, hear me out.

When we loaned out Lewis Holtby in January, I had no qualms whatsoever. I didn’t think he had a place in the squad, and that Christian Eriksen would fill the void left by Holtby suitably. I’m not necessarily wrong but Christian Eriksen has been rather disappointing of late, and isn’t contributing to games as much anybody would have hoped. I know Eriksen is only young, and does carry a genuine goal threat (more so than Holtby), but after two more dud performances against Benfica and Arsenal I couldn’t help but have the debate in my mind as to whether Holtby has a better all-round game than Eriksen.

I thought Lewis was having a good season before he was shipped off to Fulham. He was much improved from last season, and seemed to be continuing his transition to English football. I have written on thespursweb.com before about how much I admire Holtby’s attitude and what he brings to the side. With Tim recently questioning the commitment of the players, was it wise to loan out the player with a work rate like Holtby’s? He always seemed to be involved in games and made some clever passes. Everyone outside of Tottenham assumes Eriksen is on another level to Holtby, but I really don’t think this is the case at all. They are very similar in ability.

Is Holtby better than Eriksen? The jury is out. Whilst Eriksen will pop up with a goal or a free-kick screamer, I believe Holtby is more influential to a game on a more regular basis. In this respect, Holtby is a better player. Eriksen will be a fine ‘number ten’ in the future, and has undoubted quality, but he really has gone missing for Tottenham lately.

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  1. I think Holtby is an exceptional player full of passion and it seemed to me passionate to play for Spurs. I am sad by our lack of goals and all around I am sad at our what appears to be a struggle to penetrate any defence. Spurs seem to get jammed just outside the penalty area and the ball goes back and forth and back and forth until it is blocked. Or it is lost to the opposition who then seem to hoof it up field to an open player and he slots it in the net. We don't seem to be a team. all very sad. I guess we will have to suffer England in this mode in the summer all very depressing.

  2. Totally agree with your comments about Holtby. When the transfer window opened I thought he would be the last player to ever be shipped off. When he plays he has so much enthusiasm and commitment and never ever stops running. He still comes to our games if Fulham are playing on a different day, that's how much he loves our club. He is someone this club really needs. Let's hope when his loan spell is over he comes back and gets the games he deserves.

  3. Some areas in here I disagree with but the obvious starting point is Tim Sherwood 'decent job' ,do people not understand that this premier league is so poor that providing we listened to our medical staff and allowed the fitness coaches total freedom to do their job any of us could finish top 6 , how the f*ck has Sherwood done a decent job, for starters it is too soon to tell the influence he has had and do we honestly think he has had Ade in some sort of confidence boosting weekly session, has he f*ck he slung him his boots and said I believe in you son get out there and show me the old Ade, apart from that we have had Eriksen on the left, Harry Kane playing some sort of Juan Mata role, our best centre half leading the line from left back and some kid Bentaleb ? who surely must be called RENT-A-PLEB from now as the chief governor in midfield. it doesn't matter who is running the team affairs all the while you have that C*nt Levy in charge it will always go tits up on the playing side, noone should be telling our gaffer who he signs, who he sells, and putting shackles on him, he should be taken into an office told the budgets of the summer months and the janauary amounts available and told "if you want extra generate it yourself by getting shot of who you don't want" "see ya in May, if I see you before then you have failed, it is your team get on with it" all the while you have some C*nt doing commercial deals with Real Madrid and like now currently plotting to sell your keeper to PSG for 25 million you have NO CHANCE !

  4. Holtby is not better than Eriksen!! Eriksen is better on the ball, plays forward passes and is better at finding space in between the lines! Just because someone runs more doesn't make them better. Its easy to forget this is Eriksen's 1st season where Holtby has been here since last Jan!!

  5. At Spurs we only have two players who look forward and attempt to play forward slide rule passes. Soldado and Eriksen!! The rest play it too safe with sideways and backward passes. Bentaleb being the biggest culprit!! Nothing wrong with keeping possession but at some point someone is going to have to take a risk and pass it into our forwards otherwise it just become a keep ball exercise!!

  6. What are you talking about Ericksen was back in his natural position? Chadli played inside, and Ericksen was playing winger for most of the first half. Ericksen needs to be the heart of Spurs attack, period. He looks lost when he plays wide and has to cut inside…

  7. Forget the debate about Eriksen and Holtby they are both quality players. What I want to know is why the hell is Bentaleb a regular midfield. Go back to the youth side

  8. Can't help it: I thought this was a decent article until I read the bit about Holtby and Eriksen.
    Then it got really interesting!
    But then again, there is not really any point in comparing, because Eriksen is still here, Holtby is not! I agree totally with you, Jacob: they really are both quality players. Although Eriksen has a decent work radius when played as 10, the Holtby energy and commitment is uncompared.
    Regarding the Eriksen position, he definitely needs to play at the heart of the Spurs offensive as it otherwise simply will be too much ineffective "tiki-sideways-taka" for the team.

  9. What!!!!!!holtby better than eriksen!!!!????? No way!. . . . holtby can be class at times but is still very much raw while eriksen is the type of player gonna be in the madrid squad in the 15/16


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