What next for Tottenham?

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Spurs should have won the game against Newcastle. They did not take advantage of first half domination and Newcastle were a different team in the second half. Let’s have a look at some of the players, their good and bad points, and also look at some of the stats, building up to what happens next.

There has been a lot of praise for Lamela’s play in that game from some quarters. I am still unconvinced and still think there was some flattering to deceive, but there is no doubting his improvement. It would have been good if he got at least one of the two shots in, but good save. Before anyone jumps on my words about Lamela, please read on, as I also praise various areas of improvement and I think I am giving a balanced view overall.

The player who is key to success this season is Dembele. It is not the same without him.

Alli needs to watch his behaviour. Enthusiasm is great, but if we end up losing a player through cumulative cards or a straight red, that would be very unhelpful.

The other week the 2,500 mile trip with a noon start on Sunday was a definite factor. This week, playing at home on Thursday and a 16.00 start on Sunday was different. and should have had no bearing on the game against Newcastle. No blaming the Thursday tie for this result. Newcastle were much better in the second half, no doubting that. My moan is that we did not get the goals when we dominated. Unfortunately that is not uncommon and accounts for many of the draws leading up to this game.

Let’s look at some figures. Stats do not tell everything, but they can help when there are comparisons available. Here are some figures for Lamela, Eriksen and Dembele for EPL games in 2015-16. I have not included the likes of Son, because he has had at most around half the playing time of these three.

Minutes played Equivalent number of 90 minutes (games)
Lamela 805 9
Eriksen 992 11
Dembele 880 10

Chances created per 90 minutes are 3 each for Lamela and Eriksen and one for Dembele. This is a huge improvement by Lamela.

Successful passes per 90 minutes are 29 for Lamela, 40 for Eriksen and 45 for Dembele. Before someone tells me Dembele passes sideways and backwards, he has made more forward passes per 90 minutes than any other Spurs player this season. Dembele and Eriksen are outstanding for duels won, at 100% and 94%, with Lamela at 57%.

Goals are not a strong point for any of those three this season (in the EPL), although all three have had a few shots and the shot accuracy is ok for all of them. It is not great, however, with Dembele far in the lead at 70%. This is the level of Harry Kane last season (and Charlie Austin by the way). Lamela is on 60% and Eriksen 52%.Not woeful, but the latter two need to improve in this area. Lamela has improved, there is no doubt. Last season his shot accuracy was 50%.

Dembele has had just 12 shots, with two goals. Lamela has had 38 shots with 2 goals.

Not surprisingly, Dembele has made far more interceptions and clearances than the other two, but you cannot fault Lamela for that due to the different positions they play.

Despite improvement, however, overall this is not good enough for a player in Lamela’s position. He does pass to the opposition too often and also loses the ball more than he should. He has won around only half the percentage of duels won by Dembele and Eriksen.

On the evidence of this season, Dembele has been top notch. Eriksen has not been at his best but still a very good player. Lamela has not been as good as Dembele or Eriksen in many areas. On the plus side, he has created 28 chances. Eriksen has created 35 and Dembele 11. Given the minutes played, Lamela is up with Eriksen on that factor. Taking the reverse situation on positions from just now, Dembele cannot be making so many clearances and interceptions and creating chances.

Overall, yes, Lamela is improving, but is not yet a top rate player, even if he appears to be in patches. Consistency is key and Dembele this season is Mr Consistent. It is not Lamela’s fault, however, that Tottenham chose to pay big money for him. He can contribute in the squad but is not, to my mind a first choice player for the EPL games. Whether he will be in the future is almost certainly dependant on him improving his passing, his retention, his ability to win duels and his goal scoring.

Give me a few decent shifts, passing accuracy, ball retention, shot accuracy and professional temperament and I would have those over as many rabonas as you like. Unfortunately, the things I have listed are basic football attributes. Let’s hope Lamela can improve them. If not, I would see him as a sub in the EPL that would be a luxury player. He could play in less important games in the Europa League. If he improves, great, that would be lovely, but let’s be realistic. Running around a bit does not make a good player. Lloris is world class (though off form on Sunday). Dembele and Kane are very good (so is Eriksen when on form) and may be world class if consistency shows over time (which Lloris has shown). Toby is world class and Vertonghen is very good with him there. Dier is good. Lamela is not at the level of any of those.

There is one other concern. I fear Lamela will miss games because of bookings or red cards. There have been no red cards for these three. Yellows: Lamela 5, Dembele 2, Eriksen 1. Thatis, Lamela has played the equivalent 9 games and has 5 yellow cards.

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Brian has been a Spurs supporter from around 1960, so was there for the double, the FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963. He admits to having cried when Spurs lost to Benfica in the 1962 European Cup Semi-final and to times when he could weep when watching Spurs for the past few years (but for very different reasons). Brian has been lucky enough to see greats such as Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne. During the 60s, 70s and 80s Spurs won at least one domestic trophy and one European trophy each decade (with those wonderful all white strip floodlit games). It has taken Brian more than 20 years to realise that may take a while to come back, but hope lives on.


  1. Despite the title "What next for Tottenham" the article is rather an analysis of the contribution of Lamela !! I don't get it ! In any case I never thought that Lamela has developed enough to be better than either Dembele or Eriksen. But yes he is much better than the previous two seasons. Much better than A Dross Life's End… is there any other competitors for right mid ? Should he have competition … absolutely !

    • Fair point about the article. What I submitted had more. I don't know what happened to it. This is the rest.

      Where next?

      Three points of 4th place with MU one place above and not playing well. Now comes the real test of character. The next four games are Southampton (A), Norwich (H), Watford (A), Everton (A). None of these will be easy games. Watford are one point off and would love to move ahead of us. Norwich are fighting to stay up and with so little in it down there (apart from Villa) will be fighting hard to avoid the drop. Southampton and Everton are never easy games away.

      If we can finish those four games with at least two wins and two draws that may well be enough to not only gain 4th spot but also be pressing hard for third. Anything less than that may see us struggling to retain 5th spot. MU have three out of four home games in the same period against Norwich Chelsea and Swansea They play Stoke away. It may seem unlikely but I see a possible Chelsea revival in their game against MU and maybe a draw. I think Stoke may beat MU.

      That would give us 8 points from the 4 games and MU, say 5, if luck is on our side. On GD we would then go 4th, but only if a number of teams below us do not gain 3 or 4 wins.

      Ideally of course, 4 wins would do the trick for us. Fingers crossed! I hope Dembele is back, that Lamela continues to improve (and finds the net a few times), and that we take advantage of the domination we will no doubt have in at least parts of these 4 games and get in a good few goals.


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