July 24, 2014
I don’t want to go into too much detail, because Luke Balls-Burgess has done that here, and I don’t think there’s a lot else that can be said about the second pre-season friendly of the summer, but having just caught up on the Toronto game, I’ve written some brief notes. I’ve no desire to judge players or make bold statements this early on in pre-season, so these observations should be taken in context.
-Greater coherence than Saturday, especially in the first half. Unsure if that’s due to more practice or different personnel.
-Loved the way Capoue covered the left back area on a couple of occasions – something a modern defensive midfielder must do. He was a strong presence in midfield too.
-In fact, the central midfield was nicely balanced with the dynamic Mason alongside Capoue, and Eriksen adding craft ahead of them.
-If you’ve followed me on Twitter for a while, you might know that I think a lot of Mason – I genuinely think that, were it not for injury, he’d be in the England squad by now. Mason as well as Veljkovic looked perfectly entitled to be out there in the first half.
-Lamela’s intensity was highly impressive.
-Davies used the ball well from advanced areas – Naughton less so.
-Lennon was very involved, albeit not always choosing the right option.
-Lamela’s goal saw us make 11 passes from back to front – the first made by Lamela (a chest down after Kaboul’s clearance). The only players to take more than two touches in the move were Naughton, Eriksen and Soldado; Mason’s first time pass to Eriksen in particular was sublime. It was an excellent team goal.
-Soldado was rarely involved in build-up play, yet claimed two assists.
-There was a lot of fluidity behind Soldado, with Lennon, Lamela and Eriksen roaming.
-Pochettino was keen to pass instructions onto Lennon – on the face of it he seemed fairly unimpressed.
-Lamela’s second goal was a glorious finish – even if he didn’t fancy it, he had Lennon and Eriksen free in the box square of him.
-We instantly looked less assured, and it was because of the midfield. With just Carroll holding, we looked unbalanced – it was like two separate teams of five – one in our half, and one in the opposition half.
-Holtby played a lot higher than Mason had in the first half, and this didn’t change all half so he was presumably instructed to do so.
-Rose made the cross of the match – Kane should have buried it but was caught a little on his heels.
-For the first Toronto goal, Ceballos gave the ball away when Holtby was ahead of ball – Carroll tried to jockey back to bide time, when he should probably have put some pressure on the ball. Fryers didn’t track his man – instead hesitating and trying to play offside (bad decision with no pressure on the ball!).
-Townsend has been written off by many, but he looks so different to our other players – very direct and willing to commit players. That alone makes him a useful asset. With a bit of coaching I still think he can be very good for us.
-Walker was understandably reserved in his first match back.
-Fryers’ man got the second goal too, but I think Friedel could perhaps have saved it.
-Carroll had a near impossible job of linking play, as there was a huge gap between him and the next nearest player. This reflected badly on him, but in truth when he received the ball and turned, he rarely had an option.
-What a hit from Townsend to win the game!
-We’re going to complete a lot of passes in the forthcoming season, and players who are sloppy or ponderous will not be welcome.
-We’re going to need players in the final third who are productive, as I can’t see too many goals coming from central midfield.
-Dawson has received a lot of criticism for his performance, but I feel like he was hamstrung by playing alongside Fryers.