January 29, 2017

Wycombe – first half thoughts

Sometimes when you watch a game like yesterday’s in the flesh, you’re so focussed on the craziness that you don’t get to focus on what specifically went wrong. I’ve re-watched the first half of the match this morning and below are some hastily written thoughts.

Spurs were not as terrible on second viewing as I’d initially thought. Whilst we had some sloppy defensive moments, largely from set pieces, we had control of the midfield and created some good openings. Georges-Kévin N’Koudou got the ball in great areas twice in the first five minutes – once when faced by Wycombe’s right-back, Sido Jombati, and once when Son Heung-min played him into space. In the first instance he telegraphed his take-on and was dispossessed, in the second instance he had a poor touch and ended up winning a corner when he should have driven towards goal and got a shot or a cross away. Ben Davies’ resulting corner was a mishit/scuffed effort. These early moments essentially summed up the whole half.

Nkoudou was wasteful, and reminded me a lot of a very young Aaron Lennon. He shuttled up and down the touchline with speed, but more often than not backed himself into a corner and then failed to get himself out of it with very poor crosses. At one point Nkoudou played a horrendous square pass to Sissoko straight out of touch, and the edit switched to a scowling Pochettino! He also played a loose ball which surrendered possession in the build-up to the Wycombe penalty. He is a young player — he does not turn 22 until mid-February — but the signs, so far, are not great. He was taken off at half-time, and whether that was owing to injury or Pochettino being unimpressed, we’ll probably never know.

The high standard of Wycombe’s set pieces made ours look even poorer. Whomever decided to give the job to Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies need only re-watch the first half to realise that this was a bad decision. Both mishit several and lacked any real quality on their deliveries. The best came when Davies looped up a ball to Trippier just inside the box, but his wild swing sent the ball into the stands.

Trippier was also a bit of a concern defensively — he gave up a big chance to Sam Wood at the back post when he got sucked inside to mark Akinfenwa (despite there being two men on him already), leaving Wood unmarked. Later, after he telegraphed a free-kick straight to a Wycombe player and then, in attempting to recover the situation, he committed himself in the Wycombe half,  allowing them to mount a counter-attack in which Wood charged into the vacated right-back area and ended up looping a shot wide when well-placed.

Moussa Sissoko was hopelessly erratic, the ball often bouncing off his feet as if he were putting up a barrier rather than trying to take it into his control. He did have one fantastic moment, though, where he turned his marker on the edge of the box and set up Son for a good chance. At one point Sissoko had two successive dreadful touches which led to ricochets falling for Josh Onomah — he played in Son then got into the box and nearly got on the end of a Son cross. Sometimes his mis-control causes chaos amongst the opposition.

Onomah was neat and tidy but failed to impose himself on the game and wanted too many touches. If he’s to make a serious play for the first team then he needs to learn to release the ball sooner, to play more instinctively, and to impact the game. On the plus side, he often made good off-the-ball runs to create space for others, and that sort of unselfish work will not get him noticed by fans, but will please his coach. I can’t see Onomah getting too many more minutes this season, so at this point I would be keen for him to go out on loan to a club who will play him deeper in midfield, where he is far better in my opinion (see the clip I link to below).

The back-line looked rickety for much of the first half. We were given a warning of Wycombe’s set piece quality when Anthony Stewart peeled away at the back post and beat Trippier in the air, but Vorm got down well. Kevin Wimmer had a couple of wobbles, and Carter-Vickers showed his immaturity when giving away the penalty — there was no reason for him to lunge in, with Wood running the ball towards the touchline and not the goal.

Harry Winks regularly drove us forward from deep and was our second best player in the opening 45. The best, though, was Son, who put in a live-wire display and was unlucky not to score a couple. Had he buried his big chance from Jamal Blackman’s mistake early on, it might have been a very different tie. He stretched the Wycombe defence well with his movement on the shoulder, creating gaps which our first choice players would have filled with glee. He also did a reasonable job of dropping deep to link play, though those around him did not work off him as well as he might have hoped.

Another positive was the number of impressive diagonal passes from our deeper players. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kevin Wimmer and Eric Dier all played exceptional passes in the first half, which was encouraging. Carter-Vickers finding Dier’s excellent run only for his knock-down to go inches ahead of Son was one of many ‘nearly’ moments of the first half.

I’ll be back later to give some thoughts on the second half!

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  • Keith Wikle says:

    I hadn’t seen that video of onomah in central midfield. It’s such a critical role. Can’t let an 18 year old out there get pushed off the ball. Poch has given winksy that faith at times, I hope onomah Gets his shot too. Even if that means a few seasons at leyton orient.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      He’s always said he’s a 10 or an 8 — for me, he’s very much an 8. The transition role from deep midfield to attack is basically where all his strengths lie.

  • Shocking shooting far over the bar on so many occasions wasted good opportunities. They all needed to be told not to get frustrated, and go for the strong shots on target not a wild lash.

    Watch this Son v Wycombe video to see just how fast and clever Son was throughout the game, even if he too had a couple of wild shots for no obvious reason!

  • Ken Johnston says:

    Thanks. So seldom is our game properly analysed. 👍🏼

  • Jammel Soexl says:

    I find people constantly saying that Onomah is best at CM, but he’s a youth player and needs to show his versatility- most of our outfield players can play 2 or more positions.

    As a youth player, you do not get the luxury of deciding where you play.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Whilst that’s true to some degree, could you imagine Dembele having much success playing wide? In fact, we’ve seen him play wide and he ‘does a job’, but isn’t anything special.

  • […] re-watched the first half this morning, I re-watched the second this […]

  • Joe says:

    A little harsh on Trippier regarding the Sam Wood back post chance. That wasn’t poor positional sense from him, he was just pulled out of position by Akinfenwa’s enourmous gravity.

  • Jay spurs says:

    I can see what your saying on this game all very valid points but we are through even though it was a tough one an we showed a lot to battle on with 10 men we should have been a lot better than we was simple as that , as for players like trippier & Davies they seem to play better when they have the more confident and solid players around them and don’t get me started on sissoko why , why , why the hell did we buy him what a waste of time & money he is “donkey” of a player and due to him probably playing the best he ever will (@ euros) we shelled out stupid money for him.

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