An impressive turn against Norwich, the young Spaniard is growing in stature and nudging further into the first team picture.
It will be interesting to see if he keeps his place when Benny returns and Jan moves into the middle, even more so when Kaboul is fit.
A very bad week for the Portuguese manager. Obviously two defeats are poor, but two defeats that showed up all our failings under his tenure was worse.
Against Norwich we dominated the game, only got one goal, then crumbled when the pressure came. Not the first time, not the last, but it has happened too often for this to be a mere coincidence. Then on Saturday we performed woefully, outplayed by a Wigan side that on their day can be very good but should not dominate a game at our home like that.
There are some many issues it is alarming that AVB has not addressed them yet. He is playing a system that doesn’t suit the players at his disposal. It requires a midfield that can play short, snappy passing which, with the exception of Dembele, they cannot do (if we had signed Joao Moutinho it might have been different but we didn’t so it isn’t). The lone striker is too isolated, we do not get enough men in the box, with Defoe upfront there is little point in crossing the ball (add the aforementioned lack of numbers in the box) therefore wasting the skills of Bale and Lennon. For someone who is meant to be a tactical genius these failings are appalling.
Simply put he needs to put out a more offensive team against weaker sides. That line-up will do very well in away games against the top teams, where space and opportunity for the counter will occur. However when you need to take the game to the opposition it is blunt, as we have seen against Norwich (twice), Maribor, Panathinaikos, Wigan, the first halves against Villa and QPR.
We do not have the players or the league for this style and setup to prevail against middle to lower table sides.
AVB said we have only played two upfront against QPR in the second half, a game we turned round a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win, and while I can understand we have not had the chance to practice it in training, what with Ade’s ‘issues’ and no third striker, it is the easiest formation to adjust to since positioning is decided by zones on the pitch, and the players have played it for the last three seasons under Redknapp.
One of the most startling sights for me on Saturday was just how far we were off the Wigan players at any given time. We always seemed to be ten yards off a man, then when we were pressed him a simple pass took our player out of the game. Then someone else would have to run ten yards to press, then they would be taken out of the game. We are not and cannot press from the front at the moment, and it is no surprise that we were struggling to get the ball. It is also no surprise that we are tiring at the end of games. As a pressing game plan, you either all do it from front to back, or you retreat and sit deep; you cannot do both.
With some big games coming thick and fast, AVB needs to find some answers quickly. Ironically his default setting might do well at City, Arsenal and Lazio, but he needs a plan B if he is going to succeed.
Okay, it has to stop. Pick a number one (Lloris), stick with him, then get rid of a couple of keepers by the summer.
Every mistake, no matter how big or small, has now become a talking point. If Friedel makes an error, like he did against Wigan, Lloris should be in goal. If Lloris makes an error, like some say he did for Norwich’s winner in midweek, Friedel should be first choice. You cannot do that to a goalkeeper, it will ruin their confidence and crank up the pressure to ridiculous levels.
Goalkeepers need to be in credit. They need to have performed well enough and saved enough points so that any mistakes still leave him with points in the bag. At the moment, even if we are 7-0 up, a slight handling error will cause big questions to be asked, rather than simply dismissing it as one of those things, he’s saved us plenty of times, if you’re going to make a mistake make it when we have already won the game etc.
Goalkeeper is the one position where you want the pecking order to be clear.
A last minute missed penalty in midweek, another anonymous performance on Saturday. Clint’s a good player but he is not a star player. He was a big fish in a small pond at Fulham and we won’t forget his winning goal at Old Trafford, but he is getting caught in limbo at the moment – a bit like Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Going back to the AVB section, Dempsey is an example of a player who doesn’t quite fit the system as it should be. He is a direct player, physical, likes running into or onto the ball. He is not a Van der Vaart technical advanced playmaker, he is not going to play incisive through balls or little touches round the corner, and it is therefore no surprise his link up play with Defoe is non-existant.
If he is a striker, like AVB says he is/can be, then push him right up there. Give the other striker a hand pressing the opposition, give us more options, and force the midfield to step up fifteen yards.
Let’s face it, no one put in a high enough level of performance over the two games. Bale shone at Norwich, Falque looked good, but everyone let themselves down against Wigan including the fans. Not a good week for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Falque helped us come from behind to pick up a draw against Maribor (at the expense of Townsend), Livermore lost a point at Norwich when he replaced Huddlestone at HT, and Vertonghen lost three points (and Carroll gained three) when he came on with us winning in the Cup. Sandro picked up a point (Sigurdsson -1) even if the team didn’t with his early sub on Saturday.
Defoe + 4
Caulker + 3
Livermore - 2
Vertonghen - 3
Sigurdsson - 6