January 29, 2017

Wycombe – second half thoughts

Having re-watched the first half this morning, I re-watched the second this afternoon.

The substitution of Vincent Janssen for ‘GK’ Nkoudou saw Son Heung-min move a little deeper, and Josh Onomah was pushed out to the left. The presence of Janssen gave Spurs the possibility of playing into feet higher up the pitch, and Janssen had a couple of early moments where he controlled the ball and brought others into the game.

Ten minutes passed and there was still no goal so Mauricio Pochettino had Dele and Mousa Dembélé preparing for action. Spurs became increasingly desperate: Josh Onomah took on two shots from range — one good, one less so.

The breakthrough finally came when Son Heung-min got on the score sheet having been found by Cameron Carter-Vickers, still up from a corner. Pochettino immediately brought Dele and Dembélé on for Kevin Wimmer and Onomah, with Dier dropping into the back line, and Dembélé slipping into midfield alongside Winks.

We levelled four minutes later — Trippier’s ball down the line was excellent, Janssen’s first touch was positive, and he was blocked off by Aaron Pierre. He took the ball off Son and buried the penalty (just), getting a big hug from Son as he retreated back into his own half for the kick-off.

Trippier was forced off injured on 73 minutes and it took Spurs a few minutes to settle into a new formation — at first, Dembélé looked to be at left wing-back in a 3-4-2, but it was soon changed to a 4-4-1 with Sissoko at right-back.

Throughout the half, Carter-Vickers made some good passes into the channels and pushed into midfield — on second viewing, he actually looked good for the majority of the game, and it was just the rash tackle for the penalty that really ‘blotted his copybook’, as they say.

Spurs were pushing and it felt like the momentum had shifted and that we would go on to win the game. That was until Eric Dier took a disastrously poor free-kick, aimed towards Sissoko but feebly struck and easily intercepted. Miles Weston broke down the right, knocked it past Dier, and then took his time when crossing, picking out a wonderful ball which fellow substitute Gary Thompson got up to power home. Ben Davies is not the best at defending back-post headers like this, and barely got up to challenge. It was poor from Dier, who went from the sublime to the ridiculous throughout the match. Some of his passing was top class, but at other times he looked sluggish and lacking in focus.

Having scored on 82 minutes, Wycombe must have felt that they would see the game out. However, Dele’s incredible piece of composure to level it on 89 minutes gave Spurs the impetus again, and when the fourth official announced the six minutes of added time, it gave the Spurs players a lift.

The winning Son goal again came via a deflection, but his positivity was the catalyst once again. He exchanged passes with Janssen and didn’t rush his finish, though it’s unclear whether it was going in without the touch from Jacobson.

It was a cruel way for Wycombe to lose, though Spurs did deserve the victory — we ended the game having had 22 attempts at goal, to Wycombe’s 17 (8 of which came from set pieces in the case of the away side). Wycombe’s goalkeeper touched the ball more than any of their other players. Their were a number of good performances from Wycombe — particularly from Sam Wood and Sido Jombati (and to a lesser extent Adebayo Akinfenwa) — but their key man of this season so far, Scott Kashket, completed just two passes all game.

Dele looked like a superstar when he came on. The goal was magnificent, but it’s the intangible — his general aura — which seemed to lift the rest of the team. Dembélé also added a calmness in midfield, and Son had another good half, showing positivity and generally making good decisions. Son’s vibrancy was key to Spurs throughout, and he was involved in most of our good moments.

Vincent Jansson looked tenacious — he was really fired up — and had some good moments, though his touch was far from immaculate and at times he looked a little immobile. Personally I feel as though he might benefit from some Under-23 games to try to regain his goal-scoring touch (from open play at least!) and to try to shed a few pounds; he could do with being a bit leaner.

It was such a mixed bag for Spurs, with Nkoudou, Davies and Wimmer having particularly shaky games, plus Onomah and Sissoko failing to push their claims for a first team place. I thought Onomah played it too safe and, though he made very few mistakes, he needed to do more. Mousa Sissoko had a better second half than first, but has such a knack of getting himself into a good position and then wasting it, occasionally in almost comical fashion. At one point he got the ball lost under his feet, at another he played a bizarre pass to nobody. Perhaps Pochettino can coach him to become a useful asset, but he still looks a very odd purchase as it stands.

It will be fascinating to see the team selection for the next round and whether Pochettino will go with a stronger core, perhaps with some youngsters on the bench to bring on if the game is safe.

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  • keith the Spur says:

    If Poch insists on fielding ridiculously weak teams in cup competitions I doubt we will last long in any of them.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      The only thing I’d say is that we had a number of legitimate injuries for this one too.

    • Jay spurs says:

      I think that playing this weaker team how he is doing will bring them on an maybe give them confidence and then we won’t have to worry about him playing that 2 string team but what I have noticed is our defence isn’t as good with out Toby as he seems to give everyone else that little bit extra confidence

  • NKSpurs says:

    You didn’t mention how close to hero-status Janssen came with his injury-time header that Blackman just managed to clear. If that had gone in his season (and opinion) could have been transformed. As it was I thought he had a good enough game with one goal and effectively two assists.

  • Overcspurs says:

    Am I biased that referee allowed too many fouls unpunished? They constantly fouled to dispossessed and yet the officials seem to sympathised just because they are the underdog?Isn’t the high knee on Trippier a dangerous play akin to elbowing? Yet the incident not given a yellow card ( for me it’s red) nor a free kick. Yet this was not mentioned but the squad changes made was highlighted as the cause for the close competition. To me the team selected still have enough firepower to bury the opposition if game was refereed fairly!

    • WindyCOYS says:

      I thought the referee did a fairly good job of going between advantage and blowing up/booking players. O’Nien was walking a tightrope and might have had a second yellow, but otherwise I was fairly happy with the refereeing performance. I thought the Trippier incident was totally accidental personally.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    As long as our luck stays and we get to play at home to Lincoln, Oxford or Sutton in this evening’s 5th round draw, I don’t mind our bench players filling the starting positions. After all, this game is sandwiched between 2 Europa ties.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Fulham away okay, Gerry?!

      • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

        The other draws pitched EPL sides with lesser opponents, diminishing our chances for drawing an easier opposition in the 6th round.

        Hope Trippier’s hips will heal in time and there’s no further injuries. Then we might play Fulham with a nearly identical starting lineup as on last Saturday.

  • Shawry Ozspurs says:

    Wimmer copped a lot of poor observation – agree a miss on one of the goals, some dodgey turnovers – but also saw a lot of good passes (long in 1st half and very decent fwd passes in second) add in a couple of good tackles including an aggressive sliding tackle (nothing but ball) in second half.

    If we dig out a player let’s also tli up the positives.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    Pochittino was too cautious with his starting lineup against the Black Cats. A 343 formation, using Walker and Rose as wings, has proved to be effective against sides parking the bus.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    The weather forecast says heavy rain on Sunday morning. We need to match the physical tackles from Everton on a wet pitch and hope Mr Oliver sees the infringements and gives us a fair deal.

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