September 17, 2017

Some Post-Swansea Thoughts

Like many other Spurs fans, I’ve woken up feeling very frustrated after last night’s 0-0 draw with Swansea, in which decisions went against us and chances were missed.

Having scored ten goals in our last three home matches against Swansea, one might have thought that it would be a near-perfect post-Dortmund fixture, but Paul Clement has got Swansea very well organised and they have now kept three clean sheets in their three Premier League away fixtures.

Pochettino didn’t help himself though. With Ben Davies only on the bench after suffering a minor injury against Dortmund, Son Heung-min started at left wing-back. Whilst Son was our best player across the match, the role undoubtedly restricted him, and it was a somewhat strange selection, leading to a re-shuffle at half-time to free him up. Pochettino might have, instead, used Kyle Walker-Peters, who played on the left for England at the Under-20 World Cup — indeed, this was the first time this season that Walker-Peters hadn’t been included in the match day squad, which was odd.

On the right, Keiran Trippier started and Serge Aurier was on the bench after a promising debut against Dortmund. Perhaps this was testament to his lack of fitness, but it would surely have made more sense to play our more attacking right wing-back against a Swansea team who we knew would hunker in and defend, and use Trippier in midweek against Barnsley, against whom he could use his main ability of crossing to find Llorente, who we can expect to start that match. NB: Trippier completed his third dribble of the season in this match, a 300% increase on his tally last season; two out of three have been backwards.

Pochettino also once against opted to use Moussa Sissoko to the right of Eric Dier in a midfield diamond (ish). Though Sissoko was largely fine in this match, it wasn’t the right game for him. Sissoko excels most when he has space to burst into, and with Swansea sat so deep, this space was restricted. In my opinion we should have opted to use Harry Winks, who offers both more creative passing and a busy-ness which could have helped lift the tempo.

Spurs can also look to two poor decisions which went against us — Martin Olsson’s clear handball and the clear trip on Serge Aurier which was, somewhat bizarrely, given as a handball by Aurier, who clearly took it down neatly on his chest.

Spurs had troubles last year with breaking down teams that defended deep, and I strongly believe that the answer may lie within the squad. 18-year old Marcus Edwards has tremendous dribbling ability and wins penalties at an astonishing rate because defenders don’t know how to stop him. Yesterday we had three defenders on the bench in Juan Foyth, Davies (who was carrying an injury) and Aurier. Surely Edwards could have been included as a substitute at the expense of one of them?

I would hope that Edwards will get a chance against Championship side Barnsley on Tuesday. Should he play well, perhaps we can then expect to see him on the bench for these sorts of games, because he offers a viable answer to a common problem.

Finally, there has been much criticism of Dele Alli on social media for an indifferent performance. Personally I didn’t think that Dele was much worse than anyone else, but it was worth nothing that he was clearly targeted by Swansea, who fouled him five times — our ten other players were fouled four times between them. Dele definitely didn’t shine in this game, but in his role he is expected to attempt a lot of low-percentage passes, twists and turns, so when things don’t go well, it can look particularly bad. His role is one of the most difficult on the pitch to nail, and so I think he deserves a little slack. Despite being crowded out and fouled regularly, he managed to create four chances, the joint highest tally in the team with Sissoko.

Pochettino reacted angrily to talk of Wembley being the reason for this result and with good reason; this was not about Wembley. But it was, at least in part, due to Pochettino’s team selection and tactics. After a tactical triumph on Wednesday, this was disappointing.

September 1, 2017

25-Man Squad Update – August 2017

Now the transfer window has closed, we will be required to notify the Premier League of our 25-man squad.

To summarise the rule, as I do each year, we are able to name a 25-man squad if eight of the players are ‘home grown’. We could name fewer than eight home grown players, but would need to also name fewer than 25 players in our squad — for example, if we only have seven home grown players, we can name a 24-man squad, 6/23, 5/22, etc. A home grown player is defined as follows:

… one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Welsh Football Association for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).

We do not need to name players who are under 21 on our squad list; for the 2017/18 campaign, players considered ‘under 21’ will have been born on or after 1st January 1996.

Since the beginning of last season we have lost six potential ‘home grown’ players (Kyle Walker, Nabil Bentaleb, Luke McGee, Nathan Oduwa, Filip Lesniak, William Miller) from our squad list. We have added non-home grown players in Moussa Sissoko, Fernando Llorente, Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier and Davinson Sánchez (though Sánchez has a ‘freebie’ year as an under-21).

Also, since last season, Georges-Kévin N’Koudou has passed the age threshold and will need to be named in the squad, whereas last year he was simply included in our list of under-21 players.

Our ‘named’ 25-man squad should consist of the following (* = home grown player):

Hugo Lloris
Michel Vorm
Paulo Gazzaniga

Serge Aurier
Danny Rose*
Kieran Trippier*
Ben Davies*

Jan Vertonghen
Toby Alderweireld

Mousa Dembélé
Eric Dier
Victor Wanyama

Christian Eriksen
Erik Lamela
Heung-min Son
Moussa Sissoko
Georges-Kévin N’Koudou

Harry Kane*
Fernando Llorente
Vincent Janssen

We are then able to select any players who were born on or after 1st January 1996 without needing to register them. This means that any of the following (plus the other first and second year academy scholars) would be available for selection. NB: I have presented them in age order.

Harry Winks
Connor Ogilvie (on loan)
Dele Alli
Davinson Sánchez
Joe Pritchard
Anton Walkes (on loan)
Luke Amos
Anthony Georgiou
Kyle Walker-Peters
Joshua Onomah (on loan)
Shayon Harrison
Ryan Loft
Christian Maghoma
Thomas Glover
Cameron Carter Vickers (on loan)
Juan Foyth
Shilow Tracey
Alfie Whiteman
George Marsh
Kazaiah Sterling
Marcus Edwards
Brandon Austin
Jaden Brown
Dylan Duncan
Jack Roles
Keanan Bennetts
Nicholas Tsaroulla
Japhet Tanganga
Sam Shashoua
Jonathan Dinzeyi

Edit: the squad lists have not been published on the Premier League website. Hilariously we’ve included Will Miller who was sold on deadline day.

As it stands, we have only 20 players that need to be included in our squad list, four of whom are home grown players. This means that we have ‘squad space’ for one more non-home grown player, or for one non-home grown player and four home grown players. From next year, Harry Winks, Connor Ogilvie, Dele Alli, Davinson Sánchez and Joe Pritchard would need to be named in our squad list should we wish to use them. The fact that four of these are considered home grown is useful, though I would suspect that Ogilvie and Pritchard will be permanently transferred either in January or in the summer.

If you are interested in my take on our transfer window activity, I posted a #thread on Twitter earlier.

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RT @thfcacademy: Brief highlights of yesterday's UEFA Youth League draw with Real Madrid: https://t.co/WTLbLDwkPr
9 hours ago