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.

  • In-N-Out Burger says:

    Agree totally. We looked sluggish right from kick-off, not surprising after going toe-to-toe with Dortmund, and the bench didn’t provide enough variation of options.

    Marcus Edwards would have been ideal; a captain’s performance midweek in the U19’s, confidence high, an unknown quantity for tired defenders. A situation crying out for close-quarter skills, a burst of pace! A firework thrown into the dying embers!

    Need at least one player on the pitch who can go past a man v parked buses; only really have Dembele.

  • Gareth says:

    The recent performances against Swansea and Burnley match those against Palace and Sunderland at the start of last season however the difference was that in both games last season we sneaked 1-0 wins. The fine margins make a difference but the pattern is that we remain sluggish in Autumn under Poch.

  • Sweetsman says:

    I called you out on Spurscommunity regarding your tweet about Sissoko occupying a Carroll-shaped hole. It was another trip down the hole of self-parody. The reason for coming back to this so late is that I notice you took mild exception to Ben Pearce writing something positive about Sissoko. It seems that you just don’t like anyone occupying a spot that may be taken by a player from the youth ranks. For example, while I too have my doubts about Trippier, I do wonder whether your particular negative opinion is not based on him occupying a spot that could be for CCV. Davies has come on a bundle and it remains to be seen whether Rose will immediately walk back into the side when he recovers, if that is he doesn’t try to leave for Man City in January. Davies has more international experience than Rose now, too.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Hello, hope you’re well! Think I missed your ‘call-out’ on Spurscommunity? Did I reply? I don’t remember it! The tweet about Carroll/Sissoko was generally making a negative point about both. I don’t think Carroll is good enough for us at this level, but if it came down to keeping Carroll or spending £30m on 27yo Sissoko I’d keep Carroll every single time.

      I am biased towards youth players in the sense that I’ve seen a fair bit of them and know their capabilities. I wouldn’t push a youth player into the first team at any cost. I’d only want them to go up if they can A) add value or B) be as good a back-up as any alternative player we could attract. Given a chance, KWP would be easily as good a back-up as Trippier, and a better stylistic fit IMO. That said, Trippier played pretty well at the weekend (he had a lot of space to work in, mind).

      Davies has been a revelation since that horrendous Liverpool game. He’s gone up and up since then.

  • Sweetsman says:

    Sorry, that should have been KWP, not CCV.

  • Sweetsman says:

    Thanks for your reply. I didn’t enjoy making the comment about you, because I do enjoy reading and listening to your opinions. That was the level of irritation I had reached with you and others with Sissoko. It’s the same with the responses of some, not you, to Lamela. Clearly, Sissoko has been playing much better than before and should be afforded the same grace as other players. He can be exasperating, but so can Kane when he doesn’t pass to someone in a better position to score than him.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t not credit Sissoko if he did something good – and I have credited him several times. The issues is that he generally doesn’t do much that’s particularly great, or certainly not better than you’d expect or that others couldn’t do a bit better.

      • Sweetsman says:

        The caveat has to be that his confidence is returning and his performances are also improving. Although Dembélé is clearly a more talented players, he tends to move sideways and won’t take a shot; Sissoko does move forward,breaks the lines as per the manager’s desire, and takes (wayward, weak) shots.
        Are you going to the meeting on 12th October?

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