December 7, 2013
Johnson’s goal - Ondřej Čelůstka gets onto a Jozy Altidore pass, and loops in a cross. Hugo Lloris comes out to meet it, and punches weakly straight to Adam Johnson. He takes a touch and rifles a shot into the roof of the net.
Ondřej Čelůstka receives a pass from Jozy Altidore – with Chadli having not tracked back, and Naughton standing off the full-back, he has time to put a cross into the box. I thought Naughton had a good game today, but for me he has to get tighter here – although his decision is made more difficult by the lack of protection from Chadli, who had a disappointing match.
Lloris has time to watch the cross, and can claim it comfortably, with no Sunderland player attacking it. Perhaps he is confused by the presence of Walker and Capoue, but he flaps at it awkwardly, punching it perfectly to Johnson.
Lloris was brilliant against Fulham on Wednesday, but it’s difficult to overlook this error. He should claim the cross, but instead he deals with it feebly.
Johnson lets fly with a right foot shot which zips just beyond Dawson’s out-stretched boot and into the top corner.
On the whole I thought Spurs played really well – rarely troubled, and pretty threatening going forward. We controlled the second half entirely and could have scored three or four more goals had Defoe and Paulinho had their shooting boots on. Promising signs.
December 5, 2013
Dejagah’s goal – Dawson steps into midfield and miscues a pass to Paulinho, who loses the ball to Parker. Via Kačaniklić, Fulham find Berbatov, who releases Dejagah with a perfectly-weighted pass, and he finishes well.
Dawson has the ball in space at the back.
The reason that Dawson plays so many long balls is that he’s not comfortable in possession. Where our other centre-backs are all happy to carry the ball forward, Dawson isn’t. Instead, he distributes generally by laying the ball into Sandro, by shifting it to his centre-back partner, or by going long. Here, he attempts to step into midfield.
He panics, and plays a poor pass into Paulinho. Paulinho tries to protect the ball, but Parker presses him and gets a foot in, finding Kačaniklić.
Kačaniklić instantly lays off to Berbatov, who holds the ball up, turns…
…and sprays a wonderful pass wide to Dejagah. Here, it is useful to look at the animated GIF at the top of this article. Focus on Vertonghen. He has pushed up into a very advanced position – on halfway – with Dejagah far more narrow. When Fulham win the ball back, there are two or three seconds where Vertonghen is still stood on halfway, and Dejagah realises that he has an opportunity to fill the space.
By the time Vertonghen realises that Dejagah’s going to get the ball, it’s too late. The winger manages to control the ball on the stretch…
…and finishes well across Lloris from just inside the box.
Not pretty from Spurs, and Dawson again is culpable. He has had a poor run of games, and is only retaining his place due to the ongoing injury issues with Danny Rose. This was also one of Vertonghen’s worst games for Spurs, and his form at left-back is a major concern. There must be a temptation for AVB to switch Vertonghen back to centre-back, and bring in Fryers or Naughton at left-back.
On the plus side, Spurs created several good chances in this match, and had Paulinho, Lamela, and Defoe taken their presentable opportunities, we’d have been well clear. We have to start being more clinical – Lennon and Soldado missed good chances against United, meaning that we relied on long-range goals, and the same was true here.
December 1, 2013
I took a break from analysing goals conceded last week. I’m sure you won’t hold it against me.
Rooney’s first goal – Dembele loses the ball in midfield and Jones whips in a cross, which Walker fails to clear. It falls perfectly for Rooney to finish.
Unfortunately I’m relying on highlights to create these stills, as I didn’t record the match. Just before this, Mousa Dembele – otherwise much-improved today – dallied on the ball and lost possession. Here we see Jones with the ball on the right shortly after United had won the ball back.
Vertonghen is taken away by Valencia’s dummy run, meaning Jones has a bit of room to put a cross in, with Dembele struggling to get close.
The cross is relatively harmless, but Walker gets into a real pickle. His body shape is all wrong to clear; he should be striking this upfield first time with his left foot, or even getting side on and putting it out for a corner or throw-in if he’s determined to use his right, but instead he is taken by surprise and awkwardly prods it into the six-yard box.
Rooney is on hand to finish from close range – he doesn’t pass up opportunities like this.
Rooney’s second goal – Lloris comes to meet a through-ball from Rooney, but fails to get a hand to the ball, instead catching Welbeck’s trailing leg. Rooney smashes the resultant penalty right down the middle.
Rooney cuts inside and is aware of Welbeck’s movement ahead of him.
He plays a slide-rule pass for Welbeck to chase into the channel – he’s going away from goal, but Lloris has a decision to make: does he stay on his line, or try to sweep up.
It soon becomes clear that Welbeck will meet the ball first, but Lloris is committed.
He misses Welbeck’s front foot, but the forward’s back foot clips Lloris’ hand – whether he leaves it hanging deliberately to make contact or not, it’s difficult to tell – either way, there’s contact, and Lloris has missed the ball, so the referee has little choice but to award a penalty.
Rooney waits for Lloris to dive and slams the penalty down the middle of the goal.
November 28, 2013
Will we see some Spurs youngsters making debuts this evening. As you may know, we have a few young professionals in the Europa League squad:
Some of these were only added to the squad in the last week – Miles, Fredericks, McEvoy and Coulthirst.
Harry Kane has a back injury, and Kevin Stewart hasn’t travelled, but we know that Coulthirst, McEvoy, Dombaxe, Fredericks and Miles are in Norway. I would presume that Archer and Fryers are also there.
Nabil Bentaleb, who is training with the first team squad regularly, is unfortunately unable to be included as a List B player as he’s not been at the club long enough.
In case you are unaware of those players likely to be in the match-day squad, here’s a line on each:
Jon Miles – 20-year old goalkeeper who started two games on loan at Dagenham & Redbridge on loan last year. You may recognise him from some of the Spurs TV online videos.
Laste Dombaxe – an 18-year old central midfielder from Angola. Came into the Under-18 side very early (at just 15), and has progressed to the Under-21s since then. A midfielder who is a good all-rounder – has a decent short-passing game, but good defensively too.
Kenny McEvoy – 19-year old winger, who mostly plays on the right. Good pace, decent delivery, and a goal threat too.
Shaq Coulthirst – 19-year old forward, who often plays on the left, cutting in and using his right foot. A tenacious player with a bit of a spring in his step – puts defenders under pressure, and knows where the goal is.
It would be excellent to finally see some of the younger players getting an opportunity – even if it’s just being included on the bench, it can really motivate our youngsters to want to get back there again.
I’ve personally been a little disappointed with the lack of opportunities for young players on the whole. Some would argue that the involvement of Rose, Fryers, and Kane shows a willingness to play them, but I personally take issue with:
- Not using Kane more after he made an impact against Cardiff City in the league, and Aston Villa/Hull City in the League Cup.
- Sending Carroll on loan when we really lack a passer in deep midfield – I personally think that just the occasional few minutes at the end of last season could have seen him fully integrated by now. And even without that, he could have been a useful impact sub (at least) this season.
- Selling Luongo. A decision I think we’ll regret at some point.
Levy fought so hard to have an extra two substitute spots added, citing the option of involving young players as one of the reasons… yet we hardly ever have youngsters on the bench.
The Under-18s are going along pretty nicely, but the Under-21s league is a shambles, not helped by the lack of NextGen Series (at least partly thanks to the UEFA Youth League, I think). Our Under-21s have not played an official match in November. In fact, they’ve not played a competitive fixture since 21st October (one was scheduled but postponed).
The development squad play infrequent friendlies (apparently McEvoy impressed in one last week), but the issues are:
That the matches aren’t regular enough.
That means that scouts don’t get to see the players often.
It also means that players lack match sharpness.
Which means that scouts don’t get to see them at their best when they do see them.
Culminating in a lack of loan opportunities for our 3rd year scholars/trainees – and there are plenty of them.
I think the big emphasis on nurturing youngsters is paying off to an extent. We made great money on Caulker, and of course we got £400k (+ a sell-on clause) for Luongo. We’ve also got Townsend who is now worth a considerable amount of money, Livermore who we could sell for upwards of £4m in Jan should we want to, as well as Kane and Carroll who are turning heads. Bentaleb’s probably next in line, with Veljkovic hopefully not far behind. But obviously we need to be aiming to bring through first team players rather than bringing them through to sell them; that has to be the ideal.
For me we have so much talent bubbling under the surface that we could be doing even more. I look at Ryan Mason and I look at players like James McCarthy at Everton or Tom Cleverley at United, and I don’t see much difference. For me, if Mason had been given a few opportunities earlier in his career he’d be an established squad member by now. He’s a real talent. Injury prone, but a real talent. Check out what a Swindon fan thinks of he, Pritchard and Hall.
Good luck to our youngsters this evening.
As an aside, the Emergency Loan window closes for Football League clubs at 5pm today, so there is a chance that we could see young players leaving on loan.
November 26, 2013
Jake Livermore has started ten games for Hull City (and made one substitute appearance) and has become a firm favourite. He’s impressed so much that the majority of Hull’s fan-base want Livermore to sign permanently. When questioned on whether he’d consider signing for Hull permanently, Livermore said
“I’m prepared for anything in football. I’m enjoying my time here, I love the lads, the manager and the fans. Everyone here is brilliant and I’m getting a run of games so it’s so far, so good.”
He gave The Telegraph a very interesting interview on young, English footballers in which he spoke a lot of sense:
“I don’t think the biggest problem facing English football is producing players, I think the biggest problem is giving young players enough experience in the Premier League.”
Steve Bruce has admitted that he’s worried about Livermore returning to Spurs in January, saying: “There is a possibility that Jake and Danny [Graham] will be going back to their parent clubs, and that is something we just have to live with. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened, and we have to be ready for it. It’s a concern.”
Most Spurs fans were surprised to see Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent on loan to QPR at the end of the transfer window. There were rumours of an off-pitch incident with Andre Villas-Boas, and you’d have to think that this was the case, given that Assou-Ekotto is so far beyond Kyle Naughton in terms of left-back competition; it can surely only have been a breach of discipline or a falling out that triggered the move. Assou-Ekotto insists that playing for Redknapp was the reason that he was tempted to QPR:
“I’m enjoying being here. I love working with Harry. He was the main reason I came. The fans have been great to me too.”
He’s made nine starts and one substitute appearance so far, and the fans seem to have taken to him judging by this thread.
Tom Carroll played four matches for QPR before being struck down by an ankle injury. The fan verdicts were mixed, but the players seem keen, Karl Henry saying:
“We’ve missed Tom Carroll since his injury, because he’s done fantastically well for us.”
The good news is that Carroll is due to return to QPR early next week after recovering from injury.
Whilst the fans don’t love him (yet), his statistics look mighty impressive. Across his four appearances, he’s averaging 13 more passes (82.3) than the next player in the Championship (Joey Barton, 68.9), which is remarkable (NB: I’m ignoring George Thorn, who has played one game for Watford, but made 84 passes). Impressively Carroll’s also averaging the most tackles per game (4.5) in the division.
Adam Smith has started nine matches and been brought on as a substitute in one as he attempts to establish himself as Derby’s first-choice right-back. He has been in and out of the side, and has been an unused substitute in their last four.
Smith is now competing with another loan signing, Andre Wisdom, and new boss Steve McClaren commented on the pair after the recent game against Birmingham:
“Adam Smith has done very well for us and I have no qualms with Adam, but Andre Wisdom came in and adapted very well. He showed his quality, his strength and he was good on the ball. All the qualities you expect from a player from Liverpool.”
For me, it would make sense to recall Smith at the earliest opportunity and move him somewhere where he’ll be guaranteed starts.
Simon Dawkins recently joined Smith at Derby County, where he’s made five appearance so far on the right of a front three; four as a starter, and one off the bench. He’s managed one goal so far (at 20 seconds here).
This fans seems impressed by Dawkins so far:
Derby though dominates, Simon Dawkins, always an option, gets better with each match, he excites the crowd and promises so much.
Bongani Khumalo has turned out 18 times for Doncaster Rovers so far (16 in the Championship). I asked local journalist Paul Goodwin (of the Doncaster Free Press & Doncaster Star) how he’d done so far – Paul’s impressed:
Excellent Chris, slotted in seamlessly – very calm, good in air. Big test for him now fellow CB Rob Jones is injured though.
It’s also worth pointing out that Khumalo played for South Africa as they stunned Spain to win 1-0 in the international break.
Centre-back Grant Hall has played 23 matches for Swindon Town (17 in League One) thus far. He’s played mostly in a back four, but more recently in a three.
Alex Pritchard has played 21 times (20 starts) for Swindon, and in his 15 league appearances, he has two goals and five assists – the most assists of all of Swindon’s players.
Ryan Mason has had yet another injury-hit season, playing 12 matches in total for Swindon Town, eight of which were starts. He has scored four goals and got one assist in those matches, playing mostly as number 10, but dropping deeper more recently.
Swindon fan Nigel has been pretty pleased with the Spurs players so far – his latest update for me at the start of November reported the following:
Ryan Mason returned from injury two weeks ago and has started twice since then. Played superbly in a deeper role of CM rather than CAM.
Alex Pritchard played as perhaps a second striker (No.10 sort) and played very well. Had great work rate and moved the ball on the floor quickly. Did get booked, in the end, for diving though.
Grant Hall doesn’t look like he suits a 3-5-2 formation (been playing it last 4/5 games) makes a few mistakes but has the ability to make up for them going forwards.
EDIT: Today I’ve received a further update from Nigel:
Alex Pritchard: Played in a number of formations, playing most effectively as a no.10 just behind a target man. Has shown great technical ability & can beat a player.
Ryan Mason: Although slightly injury prone he has arguably been our best player this season when fully fit. Passing & skill on the ball is on another level to most players in L1. Has a goal or two in him.
Grant Hall: Very good on the ball for a league one CB, however lacks strength, composure & pace. He may look better next to a quicker/better defender, but he does not get that playing alongside Darren Ward. Has slightly improved as a centre back as the season has gone on, but his rather frequent mistakes, which unfortunately are usually punished, has overshadowed this.
Lawrence Vigouroux joined Hyde of the The Skrill Premier (Conference Premier) for a month at the end of October, and has so far made five appearances. Unfortunately four of those have been defeats – 2-1, 4-0, 3-2 and 2-1 – but they managed to draw one 2-2. After his debut the Manchester Evening News reported that he made “a string of excellent saves”. Fans on their forum seem very pleased with his performances so far.
Tomislav Gomelt has only played 39 minutes across two appearances so far for Royal Antwerp in the Belgian Second Division (for comparison, John Bostock – at the club permanently – has made 16 appearances). He has had a number of injuries that have disrupted his season, and he was also away representing Croatia U-19s in October. It’s worth noting that Antwerp are now managed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Yago Falque has played 492 minutes across eight starts for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, including a start against Real Madrid at the beginning of November where he actually had the ball in the net (although it was ruled out). Despite being involved from the start a lot, he has been substituted in seven of his eight appearances.
Cristian Ceballos has managed 336 minutes across five appearances for Arouca in the Portuguese Premier League. He’s made four starts, one substitute appearances, and has also been an unused sub three times.
The loan window for Football League clubs closes at 17:00 on Thursday, 28 November. I would not be expecting a mass exodus of Spurs youngters going out on loan, because they’ve simply not had the opportunities to showcase their talents.
The Under-21 fixtures – where scouts get an opportunity to watch our young talent – have been few and far between. This means not only that there are fewer opportunities to impress, but that when they do have opportunities, they are not match sharp.
I gather that there was a behind closed doors friendly last week in which Ken McEvoy impressed – if any players are to go out on loan, perhaps he will be one.