October 31, 2013

Analysis of the goals conceded against Hull City (30/10)

Friedel’s own goalRobert Koren and George Boyd link to get Ahmed Elmohamady free down the Hull right, and the Egyptian’s dangerous cross sees Hull players queueing up to finish it. Curtis Davies goes to ground to slot it home, but instead hits it back across goal, where it goes in off the flailing Brad Friedel.

1

Koren feeds the ball wide to George Boyd. Spurs look relatively well-organised at this point.

2

Boyd draws Walker in…

3

… and beats him with a clever flick to set Elmohamady free. Sigurdsson fails to track him.

4

Elmohamady is one of the best crossers in the Premier League, and puts a very dangerous ball into what Sky refer to as the ‘corridor of uncertainty’. The biggest worry is that Spurs have not got themselves organised – the five against five we had has now become three against one at the back post as Lamela and Dembele have totally switched off.

5

Davies slides in to finish the cross, but inexplicably directs it back across goal.

6

Poor old Friedel – his reflexes aren’t what they once were, and the ball rebounds awkwardly off him and into the open goal.

 

McShane’s goalPaul McShane gets above Vlad Chiricheș to meet a corner, and powers a header beyond Friedel, who is rooted to his line.

21

Chiricheș is marking the eventual goal-scorer, McShane, and Spurs generally looked pretty well-organised again.

23

There’s no significant movement from McShane, but he gets up above Chiricheș. Friedel is absolutely rooted to his line. Given that he had no man near to him restricting his movement, he really should be coming to punch anything in his 6-yard box.

24

And if he’s not coming to punch or claim the ball, then the least he can do is stop anything within a foot of him – this is pretty much straight at him, but his reflexes aren’t good enough to keep it out. He just palms it into the roof of the net.

 

Whilst Spurs didn’t play well – although there were patches of domination and good approach-play – it wasn’t as bad a performance as many have made out. We made eight changes to the team, suffered injuries mid-match (Chadli, and Naughton, and Walker seemed to be struggling too) and yet, but for a couple of Friedel errors, we would have won and kept a clean sheet.

I can’t for the life of me understand why Friedel is ahead of Gomes in the pecking order at this point. A lovely man, no doubt, but he hasn’t been a top class goalkeeper for at least two years now, and his reflexes are getting worse by the day. It must be time to bring Gomes back in, or to show some faith in young Jordan Archer when we rest Hugo Lloris.

There were positives last night though:

– Younes Kaboul came through 120 minutes seemingly unscathed, and was one of the better performers on the night.

– Academy graduate Harry Kane showed his quality, and must surely now be ahead of Chadli in the pecking order for the back-up wide left role. With Adebayor still out, I wouldn’t mind seeing him used as the focal point on occasions too. Defoe’s performance last night was particularly abject.

– We won a penalty shoot-out, scoring eight of our nine kicks. Remarkable!

1882 was out in force, and a good time was had by all.

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October 20, 2013

Villas-Boas needs to find a Plan B

I was a huge advocate of appointing Andre Villas-Boas as Head Coach. I liked his Porto side, I like the fact that he made a career from analysing opposition tactics, and I like the fact that he’s also a genuine coach – someone who wants to improve individual players and his team on the training pitch through very specific measures.

He was dealt a bad hand in his first season with King, Modric and Van der Vaart leaving, but he was lucky enough to have Bale (and he certainly got the best out of him). He achieved fifth place, which was at least one place better than I expected having lost such vital players. The fact that he achieved our highest Premier League points tally is often overlooked due to the failure to secure Champions League football having been well placed to do so.

There have been many positives under AVB, one of the biggest being a win at Old Trafford since 1989. Another being the defensive solidarity he has achieved, helped by his dignified handling of the Friedel/Lloris situation. And of course the considered way he stopped us consistently conceding late goals – through turning up the intensity late in training sessions to encourage concentration at the end of matches. That showcased his analytical side wonderfully.

There is also a lot to be said about the way he handles himself off the pitch. He speaks well, he is mostly deferential, and he is incredibly respectful of our fan base. His management of the Bale situation was perfect.

I am supportive of the way that Andre Villas-Boas is taking the club forward, but that does not mean that everything is rosy, and I do have concerns.

Lack of Plan B

Such is his belief in his philosophy, I sometimes feel that AVB can be inflexible. Generally he wants to play with a very high line which helps his team to win the ball high up the pitch. The intention is to control possession, which is a defensive tactic as well as it is an attacking one; it’s more difficult for the opposition to score when they don’t have the ball.

When teams arrive with the idea to soak up pressure and hit us on the counter, we often look unable to break them down – last season we often relied on a piece of Bale magic to do so, and this season we’ve struggled for goals from open play.

When things are not going our way, there is a lack of bravery in AVB’s substitutions. He will generally wait until the 65-70 mark before making a change, often going like-for-like or, worse, bringing on Defoe for a midfielder; I always feel that it’s strange to bring on a finisher when the team is struggling to create openings *to* finish. That’s not to say he hasn’t got substitutions right – his late changes against Cardiff worked wonders, the introduction of Huddlestone against Everton last season was a masterstroke, and his tactical flexibility in the 5-2 defeat at Arsenal earned him credit too. But these selections have not led to him being bolder, and I personally feel he must be.

Sometimes he needs to accept that his pre-match plans are not working, and to make a change. The way that Mourinho changed the game in Chelsea’s favour at half-time – with Mata coming on for Mikel – showed us what a difference a bold move like that can make. Were it not for Torres being sent off, I think Chelsea would have gone on to win that game, and Mourinho would have been rightly lauded for admitting that he was wrong in not starting Mata, and introducing him when it came to the crunch.

Regista

The lack of a ‘passer’ as one of the ‘2’ in our 4-2-3-1 is a fundamental flaw in our system. To me it seems so obvious that one of the reasons we struggle to break teams down and maintain a quick tempo is that we let the opposition regain shape too quickly as we don’t move the ball quickly enough to our attacking ‘3’. Dembele and Paulinho between them just do not have the direct passing ability that we need from at least one of the players in that role, much like Parker and Dembele didn’t last season.

Sending Carroll out on loan is a move that will hopefully benefit him and us in the long-term but, having sold Huddlestone, we have so few passing midfield players, that it might have been useful to have kept him around. Holtby playing as one of the deeper two is an option but, of course, you do give up a little of the solid defensive screen in making such a selection.

Set pieces

Whilst there is a misconception that AVB is a big user of statistics (“The mind and how the player feels is much more important for us, rather than statistical data.”), he can’t fail to have noticed that we struggle with set pieces at both ends of the pitch. There might have been a push on Vertonghen for West Ham’s first goal a fortnight ago but, even ignoring that, Nolan wandered across the six-yard box untracked; that can’t be happening in top-flight football. Chelsea also profited from our poor set piece defending and we’ve yet to score from a set piece ourselves this season despite having won 51 corners in the league and having had many free kicks in positions which appear to be dangerous. After Manchester City (8.00), we average the most corners per game (7.29), and concede the fewest (3.43) after City (2.43) and Chelsea (3.29) this season (stats from FootytStats).

Much like the focus on late goals being conceded last season, I’d love to see AVB try something in training to put this right. Hopefully they’ll have worked on this during the international break, and we can see some results in today’s game at Aston Villa.

Youth

When AVB was appointed, there was a statement of intent with regards to bringing young players through, Daniel Levy saying:

“Andre shares our long-term ambitions and ethos of developing players and nurturing young talent, and he will be able to do so now at a new world-class training centre.”

Beyond the occasional game for Carroll/Kane/Fryers in the cup competitions, and the inclusion of 22-year old Townsend in the first team this season, there has not been a particular focus on young players being involved, despite there being a lot of talent bubbling under the surface. With Levy having been one of the fiercest advocates of increasing the substitute options from five to seven players, I’d expect to at least have a few young players on the bench for the Europa League games – if not just for the experience of being involved, but to potentially bring on when we’re winning games easily.

The likes of Veljkovic and Bentaleb could have been given a taste of first team football to keep them interested and hungry; including them in squads and giving them 10 or 15 minutes exposure here or there could work wonders and offer an incentive to other young players. Not using and then selling the talented Massimo Luongo baffled me too – I can’t help but think we’ll live to regret that to some extent, and I just hope we have a sell-on percentage agreed.

He doesn’t stick around long

When linked with Paris St-Germain in the summer, Villas-Boas said:

“With Nasser [Al-Khelaifi, the PSG president], we have respect for each other. That PSG approached me was released [to the media] but I wanted to stay a second year in Tottenham, building on the work of last season, making two consecutive seasons in the same club for the first time in my career. I wanted to continue the project here.”

He doesn’t stay at clubs long (or at least hasn’t so far), so as much as we might see AVB’s Spurs as a long-term project, it might not be the most ludicrous assumption that he almost certainly doesn’t see us as the same. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Reasons to be cheerful

AVB has mostly been a good appointment and he is a respected and affable person to have at the helm. The team he surrounds himself with seem well liked and respected internally, and most of the noises coming from Hotspur Way appear to be positive ones.

This season he needs to achieve something, though. The squad is now very much *his* squad (or at least his and Baldini’s), and to be argued to be a success, he needs to deliver a trophy and/or a top 4 finish.

COYS.

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October 18, 2013

Inverted wingers and selection dilemmas

Andres Villas-Boas has a number of selection headaches ahead of Sunday’s match against Aston Villa. With Aaron Lennon fit-again, many are talking about the proposition of him taking up his position on the right, with the in-form Andros Townsend switching to the left in a more ‘traditional’ set up, as was often utilised under Harry Redknapp.

The more ‘old school’ fan seems to enjoy this type of attacking set-up, with two old-fashioned wingers asked to beat their man and get crosses in from which a centre forward (or two) expected to profit. It worked under Harry, they’ll tell you. And we all remember “he plays on the leeeeeeft…”.

However, not only did we have wide players on their “right” sides under Harry – i.e. looking to go on the outside of the full-back – but we had Luka Modrić in the middle, who moved the ball more quickly than any player we’d had since Michael Carrick. For me, this was the key to our attacking success under Redknapp.

Inverted wingers – the benefits

Is it a coincidence that the best teams in the world currently play with inverted wingers? Barcelona play with Neymar or Cristian Tello and Pedro Rodríguez or Alexis Sánchez, Bayern Munich with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ángel di María or Gareth Bale. The set-up allows teams to overload the opposition in central areas in the final third. Yes, it can be congested, but technical players who are adept at passing and moving use this to their advantage, and use quick passing triangles to create openings in tight spaces.

The reliance on the centre forward(s) to get all of the goals is gone, as wingers are expected to chip in with their fair share – coming into central areas and getting shots away on their stronger sides.

There is still width, but it expected that this is provided by the full-backs, who play almost as auxiliary wingers. Whilst at least one of the defensive midfield players drops into defence to make up the numbers in case of the counter.

The defensive benefits are also obvious – with more players in central areas the pitch is squeezed, leaving less room for escape for the opposition. Vulnerability down the flanks is possible, but the defensive midfield two have one eye on wide areas when the full-backs push on. And, of course, the opposition require bodies behind the ball to stop the central overload, so leaving men up-field requires a lot of bravery.

AVB’s approach

At Porto, AVB mostly played with Hulk as an inverted winger – cutting in and firing shots away – whilst Silvestre Varela was more of a touch-line hugger. At Spurs, AVB used Bale firstly on the right, and then as a second striker, but he rarely used him on the left. However, Lennon – very much the old-fashioned winger – has remained a favourite when fit, and has been singled out for praise on more than one occasion for his work ethic and team play.

But will Lennon automatically come back into the side when fit? I doubt it. Gylfi Sigurðsson has shown the ability to come in off the left and score goals (he already has three this season). And, in Townsend, we’re lucky to have a player who is left footed, but who worked so hard during his apprenticeship on developing his “wrong” foot. As a result, he is a problem for defenders, who don’t know which way he is going to take them. He is willing to go on the outside once in a while – willing to use his right foot. He scored a debut goal with his right foot against Charlton, and of course he scored an excellent goal with his right on his England debut last week too.

Options

Inverted wingers can work well but attacking, overlapping full-backs are essential. Kyle Naughton has not shown a willingness to overlap on the left and, with Rose injured, AVB will have a difficult decision on this side of the pitch. The options, as I see them, are (in order of my preference):

1. Shift Jan Vertonghen out to the left, and utilise Younes Kaboul or Vlad Chiricheș in the centre of defence.

2. Pick Zeki Fryers at left back.

3. Persist with Naughton, but use a natural left-sided player (Townsend?) ahead of him.

4. Persist with Naughton and Sigurdsson on the left.

The worry about moving Vertonghen to left-back is that he will struggle against the quick, direct wing-foward, Andreas Weimann. On the plus side, though, it would mean we have another physical presence in the side to help deal with Benteke.

Quick passing – not all about retention

Earlier, I mentioned Modrić’s quick movement of the ball, and it’s this decisive, fluid play that I personally feel we’ve been lacking in midfield this season. Many coaches (and certainly Allardyce, who benefitted so well from this a fortnight ago) think in terms of transitions; being able to get the ball to your creative players more quickly than the opposition can regain team shape is vital. Our midfield at times need to learn that the ball moves faster than a man.

Paulinho has shown glimpses of quick passing ability, but this has always been my biggest criticism of Mousa Dembélé. Whilst he is a wonderful dribbler and protector of the ball, at times his want to dribble across the pitch or to glide forward beyond a man or two and then to turn and pass backwards truly hinders us. We won’t see the best of Eriksen, for example, until he plays in a team that finds him early and finds him often.

Midfield balance

We have options in the centre – Lewis Holtby has intimated in the past that he sees himself as an 8 – the ‘transitional’ player in midfield, who links between the defensive midfielder and the 10, and his ‘pass and move’ style would suit the hole from an attacking viewpoint. Clearly, though, having Holtby there rather than, say, Dembélé would affect us defensively – we’d lose a lot of physicality.

For me, Sandro as one of the midfield two would be a no-brainer for Sunday’s match – against a physical threat like Benteke, it’ll be vital that we get our most physical players around him to attempt to combat his brute force. Sandro staying close and making every aerial challenge doubly difficult for him is essential.

Alongside him, though, the choice is more tricky. The benefit of Dembélé is that he allows us to keep the ball, although potentially at a more tepid tempo. Paulinho is a much more obvious goal-threat and allows us to retain a physical presence, but does lack imagination with his passing. Holtby offers better vision and variation, and has a bit of bite to his game, but he is largely untested in the role. It’s not an easy call.

Striker

I wrote an article for FourFourTwo this week about the importance of playing Roberto Soldado rather than Jermain Defoe. Soldado has been far from perfect so far, but it was clear last week that we were lacking his intelligent movement and willingness to show for the ball.

When you’re playing a possession game against a team that has bodies behind the ball, it’s essential that you pass quickly and “cycle” your attacking players in an attempt to move defenders around. By that I mean that one forward comes deeper to show for the ball, and another darts in behind – it’s almost a cyclical movement when you look at it on paper.

Against West Ham we didn’t do this enough, and we were too slow to pass the ball. Defoe barely ever made himself available to receive the ball with his back to goal, and we didn’t shift it quickly enough to Eriksen, which meant that – because he was receiving the ball in congested areas with limited options – Eriksen had by far his worst game for us.

Soldado is clearly more comfortable than Defoe in this more selfless role. As we saw with the goal that Sigurðsson scored against Chelsea, he is happy to drag defenders away and leave space for others to step into.

My line-up for Villa

Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - 20th October 2013 - Football tactics and formations

I’d go with Holtby over Eriksen for a little more bite, and an extra body to drop in against Villa’s hard-working midfield three of Delph, Westwood and El Ahmadi. I’d also stick with Sigurðsson, as he has proven able to score goals from this position.

Vertonghen gets the nod over Fryers and Naughton at full back – he will allow us to maintain a natural width and will be another physical player to help deal with the threat of Benteke.

Paulinho edges out Dembélé because of his more natural inclination to break forward – we might need another goal like his winner in Cardiff.

COYS

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October 14, 2013

12/10/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-3 West Ham United U18s, Hotspur Way

Luke McGee (18)
Kyle Walker-Peters (16) Cameron Carter-Vickers (15) Christian Maghoma (15) Connor Ogilvie (17)
Joe Pritchard (17) Josh Onomah (16) Cy Goddard (16)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (17) Nathan Oduwa (17)

Subs:
Anton Walkes (16) for Joe Pritchard, 61.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 61.
Shayon Harrison (16) for Cy Goddard, 71.

Sub not used:
Alfie Whiteman (15)

With Will Miller and Filip Lesniak missing due to international call-ups (note: McEneff is with Ireland too, but hasn’t featured for the U18s so far this season), and Harry Winks also absent (presumably through injury), Spurs lined up with a slightly unfamiliar feel to their midfield. Josh Onomah, normally a more attacking player, played large parts of the game as the holding player, although was pushed on as we chased the game in the second half.

After one early foray each, the deadlock was broken after just a couple of minutes – Luke McGee rushed out to clear, his kick hit Jordan Brown (who moved to West Ham from Arsenal in the summer) and landed kindly for captain Kieran Bywater to calmly stroke the ball into the unguarded net for 1-0.

Left-back Lewis Page then got to the byline and pulled a cross back which just evaded Josh Cullen as the visitors looked to extend their lead.

Spurs soon settled into the game, though, and started to threaten. Oduwa was put through in the left channel but had his shot from a tricky angle blocked, and then Carter-Vickers put a header over on the stretch after Spurs developed a short corner and Pritchard delivered a cross.

Walker-Peters linked well with Sonupe, playing a one-two which saw the right-back get into a position to cross, but his centre was just beyond Oduwa.

Ogilvie then charged forward on the left, holding off the challenges of three West Ham players, but his cross was cleared easily at the far post.

Pritchard picked out Sonupe, who cut in and was fouled. Cy Goddard stepped up, and ambitiously attempted to curl the ball into the near corner (with little to aim at) but, despite getting plenty of bend on the ball, it found the side netting.

Oduwa drove forward, dropped his shoulder to get to the byline and trusted his left foot, but his cross was over hit and went high and wide.

Spurs levelled after 13 minutes when they pieced together a lovely move involving Pritchard and Goddard, who were linking well. Pritchard showed an excellent first touch, fed Goddard who intelligently played in Akindayini. The striker’s shot bounced up off the goalkeeper, Sam Baxter, and was headed home by Pritchard following up.

The home side then turned up the pressure, putting several good moves together in short succession. Akindayini turned well and got a low shot away which was blocked by Baxter. Then Onomah fed Oduwa whose cross was flicked on by Goddard to Sonupe, who turned but couldn’t find room to get a firm shot away and had his effort blocked.

Maghoma played a good pass to Ogilvie, who burst forward again, but delayed his pass slightly too long and the opportunity was lost.

Pritchard had a decent chance when Goddard found him in space, but he scooped a shot over. Next, Walker-Peters sent Pritchard away with a good pass down the right-hand side on the break, he picked out Sonupe, but his effort was blocked as West Ham got bodies back.

Onomah then started another move, playing wide to Walker-Peters – an ever-willing runner. He linked well again with Sonupe whose low shot was blocked. It fell to Goddard, but defenders converged and smothered the ball. Akindayini then had a rather tame effort when well positioned.

Carter-Vickers’ mopped up well after his own slightly loose touch on the right looked like it might cause problems.

Onomah’s poor pass to Goddard meant that Goddard had to foul his man to stop a counter, and then Maghoma tried to take an extra touch on the edge of the box which allowed a shot which Onomah did well to block.

Another short corner routine between Goddard and Pritchard led to the ball being worked out to Akindayini, whose effort looped up dangerously but was hammered away. Then, Walker-Peters and Sonupe did well again to get Walker-Peters free, he hit the byline and had yet another cross cleared at the near post.

Another poor Onomah pass this time found touch, and then after a quiet period, Jordan Brown dropped off the centre-backs to show for the ball, turned well, got his shot away and the ball whistled just wide wide of McGee’s far post.

Oduwa and Sonupe swapped sides temporarily, and Sonupe instantly made a foul challenge on the left after Maghoma had lost the ball trying to play out. The resultant free kick was taken short but defended well by Spurs, who pressed the ball quickly and stopped a cross coming in.

Pritchard was the next to lose the ball trying to play out from the edge of his own box, but Maghoma stepped in to spare his blushes.

Sonupe’s driving run down the left led to him having to attempt a left-foot cross which lacked power and was intercepted and put out for a corner. Goddard’s corner was easily cleared at the neat post, but fell to Pritchard whose shot was saved.

Another good Sonupe run led to him finding Akindayini, who teed up Oduwa. His cross caused problems and Sonupe was very close to getting on the end of it.

West Ham took the lead again on the stroke of half time when Brown found Cullen, who set up Bywater to calmly slot his finish home for his second of the game. 1-2.

West Ham started the second half on the front foot, and Carter-Vickers did well to head over his own bar when Parfitt-Williams’ cross-shot looked like it was goal-bound, and Page’s free kick was then headed away by Ogilvie.

McGee made a fantastic reflex save from Makasi after he had turned a cross goal wards from close range – the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to the ball when a goal looked inevitable.

Goddard showed some neat skill in midfield, passed wide to Sonupe who whipped in a dangerous cross which was awkwardly hacked away, nearly resulting in an own goal.

Akindayini missed a terrific chance to make it 2-2 when he was found by an excellent Onomah pass after good work from Ogilvie and Oduwa. Onomah was coming into the game at this point and looked to be the key man.

As Spurs started to take a few risks, Ben Marlow robbed Goddard but Spurs regained shape quickly to snuff out the danger.

Pritchard made a few poor choices of pass on the counter – first trying to play a ball wide when there seemed to be room to slip Akindayini in through the middle, and then giving one away easily, followed by a third straight into touch.

Sonupe drew a foul on the right, but Oduwa overhit the free kick badly and it went well beyond his teammates. Onomah showed great control in midfield but his pass to Akindayini was slightly overhit, before McGee made a good save after the referee had waved play on when Cullen had clearly fouled Onomah when trying to nick the ball. Cullen charged forward unchallenged, but McGee repelled him.

Carter-Vickers threw himself at the ball to bravely block after West Ham worked a shooting opportunity from a corner, before Spurs made two changes. Anthony Georgiou replaced Sonupe, with Oduwa moving to the right, and Anton Walkes replaced Pritchard in midfield – he played more of a holding role, allowing Onomah to push on.

Onomah smashed a shot well over from distance – it seemed to be out of frustration as Spurs struggled to break down a stubborn defence.

Goddard was replaced by Shayon Harrison, who was immediately involved when he played in Onomah in a wide area. His threatening ball across the box somehow stayed out and was hacked clear for a corner. Walkes’ corner was just too deep for Akindayini, who had got up well.

Walker-Peters burst through a couple of challenges and was fouled right on the edge of the box, but Harrison’s free kick went straight into the wall.

McDermott was encouraging his players from the sidelines, urging them to stretch West Ham – “wider, wider” and to pass the ball more sharply – “quicker, quicker, quicker, now use it”.

Spurs profited soon after when Oduwa got on the end of a Walker-Peters pass and his run was halted by Page, who really didn’t need to make a challenge with Oduwa running out of pitch. Oduwa grabbed the ball and confidently put it into the bottom left corner with the goalkeeper barely moving.

It seemed that if one team was going to win, it was going to be Spurs – they’d been camped in the West Ham half for long periods of the game, without finding the vital finish.

Two more presentable chances went begging – this time Onomah had both. The first was the best, as he seemed to suddenly find some room in the box, only to fire his shot into a defender’s legs. As the ball rebounded back to him, he couldn’t adjust his body quickly enough, and lashed his shot over.

Spurs took a few risks in chasing the win, and had a warning when a counter needed Maghoma to get a block in, and Ogilvie to cover behind, clearing the loose ball.

A quick throw to Oduwa allowed him to toe-poke it past his man, but his pass to Akindayini wasn’t good enough and the move broke down. Then, a fine long-ball into the channel from Ogilvie saw Akindayini bring the ball down well and put a fantastic cross in – Harrison had done well to burst into the area, but the cross was inches ahead of him.

Then came the sucker punch. Jordan Brown had put in a real shift in the second half – often playing as the only man in the Spurs half, and he profited from a misplaced pass from Harrison and then slight lapse from Carter-Vickers. Marlow got onto Harrison’s loose pass, and found Brown, who was afforded too much room by Carter-Vickers. He took on a difficult shot, planting it firmly into the corner, with McGee getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out. It was hard to argue that Brown didn’t deserve something for his efforts.

As Spurs desperately pushed for an equaliser, Marcio Martins (who had just come on for Brown) had a great chance at the near post but put his effort wide.

The final attack saw Akindayini put through, but his cut back to Georgiou wasn’t up to scratch, and that was it – an unfortunate end for Spurs, who dominated for long periods and created lots of chances.

Spurs were missing key players and whilst Pritchard and, in particular, Goddard, did well in midfield, both were clearly flagging in the second half, and the quality of the replacements wasn’t quite good enough as we tried to unlock a stubborn defence.

Luke McGee 8 – made a couple of excellent saves, generally used the ball well (passing and throwing out) and was as vocal as ever.
Kyle Walker-Peters 8 – another very competent performance. Great attacking outlet and links brilliantly with Sonupe.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 7 – very impressive on the whole. He’s exceptionally strong, quick, but just let himself down ever so slightly by letting Brown get too much room for the winner.
Christian Maghoma 7 – got himself into bother a couple of times when trying to play out in tight areas, but was mostly very solid and made some decent interventions.
Connor Ogilvie 7 – loves a marauding run forward, but needs to release the ball a little earlier. Competent at left-back and centre-back, although I prefer him in the middle. For me, he looks the most ready to step up to the U21s.
Joe Pritchard 6 – started the game well and got an early goal when he did really well to follow up an Akindayini shot. Faded in the second half and made some poor pass selections – that was totally understandable though as he’d not featured much yet this season.
Josh Onomah 6 – started off in a deeper role with Lesniak missing, and I hoped that this would be good for him as it would encourage ball retention. Ironically he played some poor passes when under no pressure, whereas he excelled when he was pushed on in the second half. Clearly has a lot of talent, but was hit and miss on this occasions.
Cy Goddard 6 – very small and as a result he did get pushed around a lot – especially by Marlow, who seemed intent on clattering into him at every opportunity. I was impressed, though, and his teammates showed confidence in him by constantly giving him the ball in tight areas. One to watch.
Emmanuel Sonupe 8 – a real danger man throughout, and I felt that we should have kept him on (perhaps he was tired/injured). Direct and skilful with great pace.
Daniel Akindayini 7 – probably the best performance I’ve seen from him – showed some neat touches and a bit more of a willingness to involve himself in general play. Still feel that he needs to develop a “nasty” side and be more ruthless when presented with a chance.
Nathan Oduwa 7 – such a tricky customer! Reminds me of Kanu in style – he sometimes doesn’t seem fully in control of his feet, but manages to retain possession in the tightest of spaces. Got us back into the game with a good run and cool penalty, and is a genuinely handful at this level. Personally I’d like to see him play centrally more often than not. Interesting to note that he gets a *lot* of instruction from McDermott, so perhaps doesn’t quite have the natural awareness that some others possess.

Anton Walkes – came on in the middle of midfield and initially looked a little awkward and dallied a few times. Got better the longer he was on the pitch, though.
Anthony Georgiou – didn’t really have a chance to have an impact as West Ham were defending so deep by the time he came on, meaning there was very little space in behind.
Shayon Harrison – made a few progressive passes, but was the unfortunate one who gave the ball away for West Ham’s winner.

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October 7, 2013

Analysis of the goals conceded against West Ham (6/10)

Reid’s goal – A corner is headed towards goal by Reid and, whilst it is is inadvertently blocked on the line by Nolan, it falls kindly to Reid who finishes at the second attempt.

11

As we set up to defend the corner, Vertonghen is marking Reid, and Nolan is making a nuisance of himself on the line.

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Vertonghen gets up very early – almost too early. Nolan comes away from Dembele on the line.

EDIT: It’s been correctly pointed out that in one angle of the video, it’s fairly clear that Reid has two hands on Reid’s back. Perhaps Vertonghen should be stronger but on another day he might have been given a free kick

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Vertonghen is caught under the ball and, when he misses it, he leaves Reid in space to head down towards the far corner. Fortunately, Nolan has moved this way, and inadvertently blocks the header.

14

*Unfortunately*, it comes straight back out to Reid, who does well to adjust his body and is in enough space to fire home.

15

It’s beyond Lloris before he can move. Could he have come to punch the corner? Possibly, but Nolan’s position is an intelligent one, as it makes him think twice.

Yet another example of Spurs failing to defend a set piece properly. Very poor from Vertonghen, but Nolan shouldn’t have been allowed so much room in the 6-yard box either and, had he turned the ball in, there would have been just as many questions.

 

Vaz Te’s goal – Townsend loses the ball in midfield and Noble feeds Vaz Te, who gets a little lucky and beats Lloris at the second attempt.

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Andros Townsend gives the ball away somewhat cheaply – Noble intercepts and wriggles away from Dembele.

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With Walker having been up-field, overlapping Townsend, Noble is alert enough to quickly feed a pass into the channel for Vaz Te to run onto. Dawson is quite deep but – regardless – with no pressure on the ball, we cannot be trying to play offside here.

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Walker gets back at Vaz Te, but not quickly enough to stop him getting his shot away.

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Lloris had done well to narrow the angle, and makes a save with his legs.

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Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, the ball ricochets back off Vaz Te’s knee and squirms beyond him.

This was a clear example of West Ham’s numerical advantage in midfield having an effect. Firstly, Townsend is crowded out, and then we didn’t have enough bodies to press the ball, as Paulinho was occupied, and Dembele had already committed himself. Walker had overlapped Townsend – totally understandable at 1-0 down, at home, and looking for a goal – but the lack of cover in that area meant that we were punished.

 

Morrison’s goal –  A clearance is brought down brilliantly by Diame, who evades Vertonghen, and nicks the ball beyond Dembele to Morrison. He runs from inside his own half, beats Dawson, and lifts the ball over Lloris.

31

Diame brings a high ball down beautifully, and turns away from Vertonghen, who has committed himself very high up the pitch.

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Dembele seems to spot the danger, but rather than jockeying Diame and staying with his man, Morrison, he too wants to take the ball.

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Diame draws Dembele in and finds Morrison, who now has a clear run at Dawson.

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With Vertonghen chasing back, Morrison gets the ball under control and starts a powerful run. Dembele is jogging back, and Walker/Naughton are attempting to get back to effect play as well.

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Dawson does everything right up until this point, as Vertonghen shows signs of being able to get back.

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But rather than jockeying further, Dawson commits, trying to nick the ball.

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Morrison runs through to chip the ball over Lloris.

It’s easy to point the finger at Dawson but, for me, he was in a difficult situation – he risked giving away a foul (and therefore getting a red card) – so was trying to nick the ball without taking the man. Poor decision-making from Vertonghen and Dembele put him in this position, and Dembele’s jog back home after being beaten with ease was very frustrating, even at 3-0.

 

A bad day at the office from Spurs in virtually every way. Toothless up front, with Defoe only touching the ball 22 times, but also overrun in midfield, too slow in moving the ball, and totally unsure of our usual pressing game due to West Ham’s numerical advantage in that central area. This was most certainly a game for Sandro, and it’s surely now only a matter of time before he’s one of the first names on the team sheet again.

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Southampton's delivery from wide areas (including corners) has been fantastic.
6 hours ago