Analysis of the goal conceded against Maribor (25/10)

Beric’s goalAndros Townsend gives the ball away in midfield, and Maribor counter. Dejan Mezga runs off Sigurdsson, drives into the box, beats Huddlestone with ease, dinks the ball over Lloris, and leaves Robert Beric with a tap-in.


Unfortunately this clip starts just too late to see both Andros Townsend giving the ball away in midfield, and Mezga moving away from Sigurdsson without Gylfi tracking him. Steven Caulker comes out of the back to put pressure on the ball, with Huddlestone dropping into the back line, which is too deep; we are not compact enough.

Mezga drives forward into the space, with Huddlestone thinking about moving towards him – he certainly should be moving to the player here, with there being less risk of making a challenge outside of the box.

Instead he drops deep and, as Mezga drops his shoulder, Huddlestone hangs a leg out almost as a token gesture.

Mezga gets beyond him with ease and, as Lloris rushes out to narrow the angle, he intelligently dinks the ball over him, looking for the supporting run of Beric.

Vertonghen and Naughton attempt to meet the pass first, but Beric shows good determination to tap home into an unguarded net.

Join the conversation

  1. We where a bit toothless last night in defence and attack - I don't think it is a matter of adapting to the formations etc... I think it is more mentality. Huddlestone was very poor, I understand he has been out for a while... Had we not had injuries to Parker and Livermore maybe the touted loan at the start of the season would have been for the best. We certainly miss Dembele. Sandro though - beast, though he had a great game.
    Look forward to hearing your plug on the FC podcast this evening
    1. I agree with all of your comments. Shame that we didn't have Mason available for this one - genuinely think his link play would have improved us.
  2. Hey Windy, good article as usual. However, I think if you watch the clip back, the role Walker played in the conceded goal was quite important. When Townsend gives the ball away, Walker is pretty much on the right wing (ahead of the play). He sprints back to get into position, which is great, before the one-two that opens us up. Thing is, he then is a total passenger - he jogs alongside play (barely more than a walk), and thats where the problem is. Huddlestone, I feel, actually does the right thing - he is in the box and can't guarantee he will win the ball, so he at least makes Mezga go outside him, where Walker should be covering/putting pressure. But, if you watch the clip back, he makes no attempt to even engage in a tackle. This gives him all the time he needs to pull the ball across the goal. I don't want to get on Walker's back, as I think he is a great player, and is still realising his potential, but he looks either short of confidence (no idea why he would after awards last season), or disinterested. A real shame. Happy with a draw though. Sorry for long post (@stopejectmusic)
    1. Interesting comment - I agree with the Walker comment to an extent, but Huddlestone should definitely close the man outside the box, and concede a foul if necessary.

      TOTALLY agree that Walker's confidence has been absolutely sapped (no idea why - it's odd).
  3. For my money, Lloris left his line too early, ok closing down the angle is one thing, but flying in feet first? Needed to stand strong on his front post and make himself as big a target as possible. If you take him from picture 3 and put him in the same position in picture 4 the guy has much less chance of scoring and only one challenged pass on.

    Huddlestone could definitely have done more, but i dont think he had as bad a game as is being suggested.

    Was pleased to see Falque play. I'm not a great fan of Townsend I'm afraid, too greedy, beating a player is one thing but he invariably ends up losing the ball trying to beat another.

    Walker was in the right place for the situation the cost of holding the ball too long is usually your team mates are in a forward position when you lose it.

    Ultimately I'm really not enjoying the Europa league matches. When we played uninteresting and penetrationless football in it last time it was because we weren't interested and not fielding strong teams, we are this year.

    It's not just our games but all of the ones I have seen, none have had fluid passing, everyone seems to be over or under hitting every pass. Are they using a significantly different ball or is it that English teams just don't like foreign pitches that aren't the quality of the San Siro?
    1. Thanks as ever for your comment, bonse - well thought as as usual.

      Interesting point re: Lloris - you could have a point.

      I like Townsend as I think he offers more dribbling ability than most in out squad, but agree that he can be very greedy. Falque had a very tidy half indeed.

      I think we get brought down to the level of the opponent too easily - we need more urgency and tempo to our play. Lack of motivation perhaps?
  4. I totally agree with the comment about Walker's role in the goal. Huddlestone should have come out to the man, but when faced up by an opponent with the ball under control, you need some support from the side. Having retreated into the box, Huddlestone couldn't really attempt a tackle but Walker should have been in a position to make a challenge as the player concentrated on going around Huddlestone. Also, with some physical pressure from outside the Maribor player would only have had the option to come inside into more of our defenders.
    Finally, I think that the criticism of Huddlestone has been very harsh. He was the only Spurs player who consistently kept the ball moving without too many touches and he often swept the ball wide to Lennon, who, as usual when Defoe plays, unfortunately didn't have anyone in the box to cross to. In my opinion, Sandro should have played deeper, allowing Huddlestone to have more influence further forward. Sandro is far better than Huddlestone at protecting the back four and far less influencial further forward.
    1. I 100% agree that Huddlestone can offer these elements, but thought he was badly off the pace, and cumbersome in possession yesterday. Lots of his first time passes seemed to be shinned, and he didn't have the usual technically assured air that he normally has. He also played a 23 long balls, when really we needed to be breaking the opposition down with quick, incisive, short passing.
    2. This is a very good point, and applies to the whole team in general, not just last night. I think there was only two, maybe three times we used quick incisive passing, and both times we looked like a premiership team playing U15's, but it was only ever fleeting.

      If we can do it for 45 minutes at Old Trafford, surely 10 minutes of sustained play like that would have been enough last night
    3. Agreed - far too patient. Against teams like that, who I actually thought played well, we need to take the initiative and make things happen. It sometimes feels that unless we are counter-attacking, we are doing nothing at all. The goal came from Walker making a break forward, then taking a quick throw-in to Sandro who made a run into the box, and from that we scored - the only real time we looked to have any urgency. Don't think the pitch helped at all yesterday, but Maribor were quite effective on it so can't really see why we shouldn't be.
    4. Yeah, I agree - Huddlestone is not at his best (clearly), but he still wasn't as bad as people are making out.

      I wish Lennon would just spank a few balls across the box rather than checking back every time. Even if no-one is there, it will hilight the fact that no-one is there. And it might just hit someone and drop somewhere useful.
  5. Huddlestone is getting unfair criticism. He orchestrated pretty much all of our passing, including short passing. Sandro had an okay game but as usual gets the plaudits. I agree that Hudd and Sandro could've swapped over - would like to see that.
  6. Can't agree Windy about Huddlestone's long passing. Part of the problem that AVB has indicated is our lack of patience and failure to hold on to possession. If players try short, quick passing and aren't on the same wavelength then you lose the ball. It also relies on good movement and vision, which was sadly lacking last night. Huddlestone found Lennon several times with long, switching balls that isolated him one on one with the fullback but he didn't take proper advantage and allowed other players time to double and sometimes treble up. Huddlestone's use of the ball was far better than any other player on our side. As for being off the pace, if you play the ball first time then you increase the pace of play. Unfortunately, it relies on more than one player being able to do this. This is why we are missing VDV and Modric at the moment and our football is nowhere near as attractive as at times in the past two years.
  7. So, we missed some creativity and dynamism in midfield and had trouble breaking down a team that was well-organized and defended deep with two banks of four. Stop me if you’ve head this one before.

    Tom Carroll needs to start getting some minutes in these games. We need a passer who can get himself around quicker than Thud if we’re going to play AVB-ball.

    Positives for me were mainly the defense. Aside from about three totally brainless moments (their goal being one), we looked airtight. Caulker and Vertonghen were superb, and the high line was extremely effective in getting at least four or five successful offside traps that I can recall and generally giving Maribor very little space in which to attack. The pressing was also a big plus, as it has been pretty much all season. We won the ball back in their half A LOT.

    I was also intrigued by the tactical experimentation in the second half: Thud dropping in between the center backs to play as an old-fashioned libero; Caulker and Vertonghen taking it in turns to do a Mousa Dembele impression and charge through the Maribor defense from deep; Sandro and Walker blitzing forward to press WAY high up and get themselves into the box for knockdowns; the front four, including an encouraging season debut for Falque, showing fluid rotation and interchanging beautifully at times. Bangtidy!

    That was as close to a true totaal voetbal performance as I can remember seeing from our Spurs. And it wasn’t anarchic, either. Those guys popping up in unusual areas were getting adequate cover just about every time. The team was surprisingly disciplined for being so “open”. So even though the result wasn’t there, that was a lot of fun to watch. It was like AVB just decided Maribor were boring him to death and he was going to liven this joint up come hell or high water.
  8. Another fine mess, chooses your culprit: Townsend for losing the ball by overdoing it; Walker for something or other; Huddlestone for not moving towards the man; Lloris for not standing up.

    We should have gone at them at pace from the start. They were in an over-awed state from the kickoff and we should have capitalised on that.
    The longer this type of game goes on the more confident the opposition becomes.
    The opening goal was an absolute bonus.
    Thank God for Panathinaikos.


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