Thankfully, I have a much more positive week than last week to write about today. Spurs ran out 3-2 winners at home to Southampton this afternoon, after a late Gylfi Sigurdsson screamer to win the game. Also, Spurs put in an extremely encouraging performance on Thursday as we drew 2-2 with Benfica; a performance inspired by Harry Kane and Nacer Chadli. I have a lot to dissect this week:
- Tottenham responded superbly to the losses against Chelsea and Benfica at home, and should have won the game in Portugal.
- Tim Sherwood inspired another gutsy performance against Southampton.
- Am I the only person who isn’t convinced by Christian Eriksen just yet?
- I think Yevhen Konoplyanka would be a great signing.
Benfica 2-2 Tottenham in the Europa League.
The players should feel extremely proud of their performance on Thursday against Benfica. Tim Sherwood took to the stands to oversee this encounter, and he will have been mightily impressed with what he saw. We dominated the first half an hour of the game, and were unlucky not to take the lead after a Soldado chance went begging. Sadly, we let Benfica come into the game and we went in 1-0 down. Tim must have given what one can only imagine the ‘hairdryer treatment’ to the team and we went out in the second half, dominated possession and went 2-1 up after two Chadli goals. The first was magical, a real screamer. The second was scrappy, but we deserved it. Benfica were on the ropes.
I was very pleased for Chadli. I must say, I have been a very harsh critic of him at times this season, but when he played in a more central role on Thursday, he excelled. He found space between Benfica’s centre-backs and full-backs intelligently, ran powerfully as ever and was a real handful for Benfica all game. The importance of Harry Kane cannot be understated as well. He came on and played very well, setting up both goals. His physical presence gave Benfica a little more to think about than Soldado’s lean frame, and Sherwood’s bold substitution paid dividends.
In the end, I felt we could have gone on to win the game 3-1. Lennon had a great opportunity to pick out Sigurdsson from a cross and we were denied a stone-wall penalty for a foul on Kane. How the referee didn’t give us that penalty, I will never know. It was an utterly bemusing decision and was another example of awful officiating against Spurs this season. Nabil Bentaleb also put in his best performance in a Spurs shirt. Dynamic, composed, hard-working and great in possession. Is it fair to say that Bentaleb, game for game, has been better than Dembele this season? I certainly would say it is.
On the whole, I was mightily impressed with the display. You can only imagine that it gave us the confidence to come from two goals behind against Southampton and win.
Spurs’ come back against Bale’s old team.
Spurs got three points on the board this afternoon after a 3-2 victory over Southampton. Something about Luke Shaw irritates me intensely, so I was very pleased to beat his team with a late winner. What disappointed me however was Kyle Naughton’s first half display. He has been very assured over the last month, so his two mistakes leading to Southampton goals were unfortunate. We did well not to ‘capitulate’ however, and Eriksen pounced on a Nathaniel Clyne error to bring it back to 1-2. Eriksen went on to equalise just after the restart after great work from Roberto Soldado to rob Dejan Lovren and cross for the Dane to slot home at the back post. The game went a little bit flat after Eriksen’s equaliser, but up popped Gyfli Sigurdsson to win the game in the 92nd minute and sent White Hart Lane into a state of euphoria.
We showed tremendous character today. Sigurdsson changed the game when he came on. He pressed the Southampton midfield which was being allowed far too much time when Dembele was on in the first 45 minutes. Soldado was also excellent. He linked up play well, passed unselfishly and provided an excellent assist for Eriksen’s equaliser – the kind of assist actually worth mentioning, a quality pass. I was thrilled when we got the winner, and it was important that we got the three points before the inevitable trouncing at Anfield.
Stop getting carried away with Christian Eriksen.
I feel like the only Tottenham on the planet who doesn’t see the world class talent of Christian Eriksen. Today, I feel like two tap-ins have made people get a little carried away with Eriksen’s performance. He was good, but his all round game was nowhere near as good as people were making out. He still struggles to consistently deliver decent corners and set-pieces, and today actually failed to deliver a simple cross to Soldado who had an open goal. Eriksen over-hit the cross and was rightly distraught with himself.
People will comment on this article saying that Tim has been playing him out of position. This is true, Eriksen needs to be central, but this is no excuse to overrate him. He naturally floats into a central position anyway, so does influence the game from the middle of the pitch. It isn’t as if Sherwood is asking him to play like Aaron Lennon or Theo Walcott.
I’m a massive fan of Christian Eriksen, and I think he will be a superb creative midfielder when he has fully acclimatised to the Premier League, but I don’t like seeing people getting carried away with his all-round game – it leaves a lot to be desired. People let poor quality goals provide a false assessment of Fellaini last season at Everton, and time has shown that he isn’t a shadow of the player people thought. Obviously, Eriksen is better than Fellaini, but it is the same principal. Eriksen will be world class one day, that much is obvious, but he is a long way off at the moment.
Konoplyanka could be our first signing of the summer.
It has emerged this week that Spurs are in talks with Dnipro’s twenty-four year-old left-winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. The president of the Ukrainian team said that talks were in an advanced stage, and that Yevhen liked the sound of living in London more than Liverpool. Encouraging signs.
Konoplyanka looks an exciting player, and has impressed me on all three occasions in which I have watched him. He looks mobile, skilful, direct and very pacey, so should suit the Premier League very well. Left wing is a position without a permanent owner in our team at the moment, and if Chadli fails to build on his form shown against Benfica, Konoplyanka may well be brought in to replace him.
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