Analysis of the goal conceded against Chelsea (28/9)

John Terry’s goal – After Vertonghen concedes a free kick, Mata delivers a teasing in-swinger, which Terry guides into the corner.

Blame me. I think I cursed Vertonghen. I tweeted at the end of the first half that he was playing the best defensive game I’d ever seen from him in a Spurs shirt – in the second he was far less impressive, and seemed to really struggle with Torres’ movement.

He conceded a free-kick when lunging in on Ramires – a challenge for which he might have seen red, as he was technically denying a goal-scoring opportunity, since the Brazilian had a clear run on goal had he not been brought down. Mata took the resulting free kick…



As Mata prepares to take the kick, Ivanovic is grappling with Dembele. I’m not sure if it’s a deliberate ploy, but essentially Ivanovic pushes Dembele deep and this causes Terry to be onside. Dembele has to be stronger and hold the line here.


Dawson steps up to play Terry off, not seeing that Dembele has been pushed back. Vertonghen can now see Terry, who has made a break in front of him.


In stepping up briefly, Dawson has cost himself a yard.


Due to Vertonghen being static, Dembele being pushed back and Dawson p up, Terry ends up having a free header.


Terry has time and space to guide his header into the corner unchallenged.


A very scruffy goal from a Spurs perspective, with mistakes from Vertonghen (initial foul, and then not reacting to Terry’s run), Dembele (not standing his ground, and therefore playing Terry onside) and Dawson (being out of kilter with Dembele, costing himself a yard).

This goal was coming, though, and I was a little disappointed with AVB’s use of substitutions this week, unlike last week against Cardiff.  Mata’s introduction made a huge difference for Chelsea, and Dembele and Paulinho just failed to get close enough to him. Paulinho is good defensively, but was caught between being the link man in between Dembele and the number 10 (Eriksen and then Holtby), whereas Dembele is much better with the ball than without it.

Despite Dembele protecting the ball and using it mostly intelligently when he had it, for me I’d have withdrawn him after 55 minutes and brought on Sandro to deal with the threat that Mata was constantly posing. Alternatively, AVB could have taken off Paulinho and given up a little of the forward thrust that the Brazilian offered. Either way, we needed to do *something* about Mata, who was absolutely bossing the second half whilst Chelsea had eleven men.

Subs make the difference

Holtby to Lamela to Paulinho – GOAL!

Villas-Boas is often criticised for his delayed substitutions; he generally waits until quite late in games to make a change, which can frustrate us fans. But on Sunday, two out of the three substitutes that AVB introduced were involved in the winning goal. Hats off to him, as they say.


Lamela replaced Sigurdsson after 71 minutes – just as Cardiff were having a slight resurgence. He initially drifted over to the left, but was soon moved to the right, where he was clearly more comfortable. He made five crosses, one of which was successful – the vital pass for the goal.

Lamela is still finding his feet at Spurs, and looks a little nervous when it comes to beating a man – the fact that he only attempt one ‘take-on’ (in stats speak) is telling, but his contribution was still hugely important.


AVB showed a lot of faith in Kane by bringing him on for Townsend on 81 minutes, with other attacking options available. The 20-year old repaid the Head Coach’s faith with a strong showing, adding presence and control to the left side, from which he cut in and either fed his team mates, or looked to angle crosses in. One such cross was especially dangerous and might have led to a goal. Kane also curled a low shot narrowly wide.

It’s no surprise to me that Kane had his best performance in a Spurs shirt in a more natural position for him. He is certainly more of a support striker than an out-and-out line leader (as he has previously been used in our first team). Hopefully this cameo will give him some confidence and he will be able to produce similar displays more consistently.


Lewis Holtby arguably had the biggest impact, despite only leaving the bench on 89 minutes. In his five minutes on the pitch he managed to complete 13 passes, including one key pass which sent Paulinho through for his chipped effort on goal. Importantly, of course, Holtby also got on the end of Lamela’s knock-down and found the Argentinian in space with a slide-rule pass, which allowed him to cross for Paulinho’s goal.

Whilst last season we often relied on Bale to come up with a bit of magic to win us these sorts of tight games, it is testament to the newly beefed-up squad that we are now able to put faith in our substitutes to come on and change games – and this without the likes of Defoe, Adebayor, Lennon and Chadli.

Stop Stubhub

I’ve been pretty vocal on Twitter regarding my feelings on Stubhub, and I’m not alone. Along with a number of other Spurs fans I have put my name to the following letter, and will be signing this petition too:

Please take a few minutes to read our letter and petition, and make your own mind up.


We are Tottenham Hotspur supporters who believe the club’s deal with StubHub is not in the best interests of fans buying or selling tickets, and has serious implications for football supporters in general.

With a growing backlash against ticket pricing at the top level of the English game, a deal which best serves the interests of those wishing to make a profit from their fellow fans damages the reputation of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC).

The way StubHub works is intrinsically against the best interests of supporters. The absence of restrictions on pricing has led, in some cases, to tickets being listed at up to 1,000% of face value. The average list price for a ticket on StubHub vastly outweighs the ticket’s face value. THFC and StubHub actively encourage supporters to list tickets at high prices, emphasising the seller’s freedom to determine a ticket’s list price is a benefit in publicity for the service.

We would like to have seen an upper pricing limit introduced, in line with MP Sharon Hodgson’s attempt to introduce legislation in Parliament to restrict the resale of tickets to 10% above face value. THFC has an ideal opportunity to set an example by aligning itself with this initiative, therefore gaining respect and goodwill.

We note that secondary ticket agencies have been described as “legalised touts” by Malcolm Clarke, the chair of the Football Supporters Federation. Furthermore, we note that the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust has called for tickets to be sold at face value.

After the Swansea game, the first game for which tickets had changed hands via StubHub, we received reports of supporters having to wait for over an hour at the StubHub pick-up point, with some missing up to 35 minutes of the first half because they were still waiting to be handed their tickets.

We have concerns about the effect this deal has on the value of existing membership schemes because of the number of tickets that will be made available to members. We also have concerns about a number of security issues.

We believe the club’s deal with StubHub should be terminated at the earliest possible opportunity. It should be replaced with a scheme in which the club buys back and sells tickets at face value, possibly through an existing ethical ticket exchange. We would also like to see resale to existing club members prioritised.

We would like to see THFC work with fans’ organisations and other clubs to create an ethical, fair and safe secondary ticketing system, possibly looking to shape legislation to regulate the market.

This deal was agreed without consulting the supporters it directly affects, and has been implemented without their consent. Such actions undermine the efforts of everyone trying to build a constructive dialogue between the club and its fans. We therefore ask that, in future, proper consultation – which means more than informing fans after the event – takes place over any measure that directly affects fans.

Total Tottenham website
The Fighting Cock website
Dear Mr Levy website
Alan Fisher – Tottenham on my Mind
Mel Gomes @ The Substantive website
Spurstalk website
Chris Miller –
Martin Cloake, author and fan
Supported by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust


Sign the petition here: #stopstubhub

AVB gets the midfield balance right

Spurs fans were very excited about their central midfield options prior to the season’s kick off; understandably so. Whilst admiring the size, strength, stamina, and defensive capabilities of the players available – Sandro, Capoue, Dembele, and Paulinho – we were calling it the best central midfield in the Premier League.

We all expected a shift to the 4-3-3 that André Villas-Boas was renowned for in his year at Porto. There, he utilised Fernando as a dedicated holder, João Moutinho as the “recycling” link player, and Fredy Guarin as the breaker – tasked with getting forward to support the central striker. The majority of the creativity, it could be said, came from wide areas, where Hulk played as an inverted winger – cutting in and firing shots away – whilst Silvestre Varela was more of a touchline hugger.

At Spurs, the mapping of skill sets seemed to suggest that Sandro or Étienne Capoue would play as the deepest-lying player, Mousa Dembélé would take on the João Moutinho role, and Paulinho would be the one to break forward. This sounds plausible on first thoughts, but when you consider the respective playing traits more closely, it becomes clear that it doesn’t quite hold up – there’s a distinct lack of creativity, as none of those mentioned are particularly adept at moving the ball forward, and moving it forward quickly (albeit Capoue gives it a good go).

Dembélé is a wonderful dribbler and rarely loses the ball, but his tendency to dwell in possession in addition to his lack of vision do mean that we are sometimes restricted when we have the ball. As a result of both this and Sandro’s lack of match fitness, AVB started with Sigurdsson as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1 in our first match of the season, at Crystal Palace.


Whilst Sigurdsson didn’t have a particularly good game, he made a number of forward passes, had a couple of efforts on goal, and set up some shooting opportunities from wide areas. Soldado touched the ball 41 times in the match and was relatively involved.


Against Swansea, Villas-Boas made a more defensive selection, opting for Dembélé as the most advanced central midfield player, with Paulinho and Capoue alongside him. Dembélé’s attacking dashboard illustrates how he struggled to involve himself in the final third, and Soldado ended the game with just touches 21.


Villas-Boas stuck with the same midfield against Arsenal, with similar results. Soldado was isolated again, and ended the game having had 25 touches. Dembélé again struggled, and barely managed a successful forward pass in the final third.

As the transfer window came to a close, Spurs confirmed the signing of young Dane, Christian Eriksen. In the last year of his contract, signing Eriksen for the cut-price fee that could rise to £11m was a no-brainer. His age and European reputation mean that his price will unlikely fall below that level, even if he fails to settle. However, if his debut performance is anything to go by, his stock should continue to rise.


Although Soldado wasn’t that much more involved than the previous two matches (he had 32 touches), Eriksen’s introduction led to Spurs seeing a lot more of the ball in dangerous areas, and we scored our first two goals from open play this season – Eriksen grabbing the assist for Sigurdsson’s first (after a nice piece of link-up with Soldado) as well as the assist of the assist (!) for the second.

He had license to roam – playing most of his passes to the right (as the above graphic shows) presumably because we had much more natural width on that side, with Townsend more of a touchline hugging winger than Sigurdsson (at least as a starting position, as he typically comes inside once he receives the ball). The improvement in the team after the introduction of Eriksen is not purely down to the individual – although he’s clearly a talent who should prove to be an exciting signing for Spurs – but the ‘type’ of player required to play that role.

The team is set up perfectly for an intelligent number 10 to thrive, so long as he is found often and early. The defensive screen is excellent, and the only question mark is whether we have enough quality in the deep midfield region to move the ball quickly to a 10 – it is vital that he receives the ball before the opposition has a chance to reorganise after a turnover. By that I mean that when the defensive midfield players win the ball with their high tempo pressing, they need to play quick passes into Eriksen’s feet if possible so that he can exploit teams during transitions from attack to defence.

With Lamela also adept at playing the role, as well as the returning Lewis Holtby – so impressive against (the admittedly poor) Dinamo Tbilisi – Spurs now have the right kind of players to play off Soldado, and do not need to fit square-ish pegs into round-ish holes. For the foreseeable future, I would expect AVB to stick with the 4-2-3-1, with two from Sandro/Capoue/Paulinho and Dembélé as the ‘2’ – most likely a combination of one of Sandro/Capoue and one of Paulinho/Dembélé once all are fully fit and available.

14/09/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-1 Bolton Wanderers U18s, Hotspur Way

Luke McGee (18)
Luke Amos (16) Christian Maghoma (15) Connor Ogilvie (17) Kyle Walker-Peters (16)
Harry Winks (17) Filip Lesniak (17) William Miller (17)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (17) Nathan Oduwa (17)

Anton Walkes (16) for Luke Amos, 66.
Josh Onomah (16) for Harry Winks, 66.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 75.

Sub not used:
Shayon Harrison (16)

The early stages consisted of Spurs dominating possession with short one and two touch passing, which was the way of most of the first half from Spurs. A nice early switch of play from Lesniak signalled his intentions, as he moved the ball intelligently throughout.

Luke McGee was notably vocal in the early stages in particular, which was particularly useful with a young back four ahead of him.

As Spurs looked to penetrate down the flanks, Oduwa took off on a trademark dribble down the left but was halted before he could do damage. Winks then tried to play Sonupe in but didn’t quite get his execution right.

Amos, a small, slight player, is not naturally strong in the air, and didn’t seem keen to put his head on a cross-field. Instead he awkwardly volleyed it up in the air, but Spurs cleared the danger at the second time of asking.

Walker-Peters played the ball out early to Oduwa on the left. He ran up the line and was fouled, but Winks’ free kick was cleared at the front post.

Oduwa then played a one-two with Will Miller, and as he ran into the box, his quick feet got him to the ball before the goalkeeper. He tried to poke it past him but the keeper got a bit of the ball as it rebounded, which meant that no penalty was given when Oduwa went to ground.

Miller then played in Sonupe who beat his man, hit the byline with an explosive burst of pace but over-hit his cross when a cutback was needed, instead choosing to blast it high across the face.

Ogilvie met a long ball with a superb diving header to clear his lines, before Bolton’s Jamie Thomas made room inside the box, and his heavily deflected shot looked destined for the far corner before Luke McGee turned it round the post.

There was then a good save at the other end when Sonupe beat his man with ease and delivered a low cross which was flicked towards goal by Winks, and the Bolton keeper reacted quickly to keep it out.

Miller was then played in but didn’t have much room to work with – he let the ball get too far away from his body on the left of the box, and it was cleared.

Winks found Sonupe wide with a curled pass, but Sonupe languidly crossed straight into the keeper’s hands.

Maghoma got into a bit of a mess when he failed to meet a bouncing ball, but centre-back partner Ogilvie got him out of jail with an excellent interception.

Sonupe and Amos linked well after Winks fed Amos, but the latter’s touch was a little heavy and the ball went out for a throw.

Winks then took a poor corner which was cleared, although Lesniak recovered the ball and this led to Oduwa forcing a point blank save after Sonupe’s driving run and good low cross found him at the back post.

Miller nicked the ball and fed Oduwa, who cut in and had his shot blocked.

The next action saw Winks’ free kick fired in flat to the near post but it was comfortably headed out for a corner, which Winks scuffed – I think that was his last corner of the match.

Sonupe pulled off a fantastic bit of skill (a sort of flip-flap which nutmegged his marker) but then over hit his cross again.

Winks was caught in possession by a hard but fair challenge in midfield from Bolton’s Sam Bailey, but Ogilive slowed the Bolton move with a tactical foul out on the left. McGee missed his punch from the resulting free kick but Maghoma did brilliantly to block the shot, leading to a quick counter. Sonupe found Winks with a clever back-heel, Winks drove forward and fed Miller who had a bit to do and ended up producing a fairly tame shot.

Tottenham took the lead when Winks side-footed home from a Sonupe cross after some excellent link-up on the right, during which Amos showed a deft touch.

Akindayini’s clever turn and shot was his first real involvement, but his shot was blocked by one of the bulky centre-backs.

Winks showed his defensive qualities, tidying up well after Lesniak lost the ball on the halfway line, getting his body in the way at the right time.

Sonupe firmly hit a cross which was cleared for a corner, and Oduwa’s corner was better than some of the earlier efforts that Winks had produced, but was cleared nonetheless.

Bolton’s Thomas Walker showed some good skill before picking out Aaron Knight whose effort was blocked. The rebound fell to Walker again who made no mistake to make it 1-1.

Winks had a shot pushed out for a corner and Oduwa’s delivery was flat and hard, but headed away to safety.

Oduwa then nutmegged his man on the right, and got past him before going to ground – the referee motioned for him to get up, much to his annoyance.

A nice move on the left saw Akindayini find Sonupe breaking into the box, but he steered his shot just wide of the far post.

McGee saved at the near post from a low and hard cross-cum-shot, and the corner was eventually cleared by Maghoma.

Elliot Newby stood up a useful cross to the back post causing McGee to have a bit of a flap, but he got away with it as nobody followed in at the far post.

Miller made another driving run and passed to Akindayini, who beat his man with pace and aimed a shot across goal – it was always going wide, but was agonisingly close to being tapped in by the onrushing Sonupe.

Just before half-time, Bolton got themselves into a bit of a pickle from a throw, allowing Akindayini to rob Abbotts on the near touchline. He had a free run on goal, but seemed to show a lack of decisiveness, culminating in him trying to cross the ball, when a direct run and shot seemed to be the better option.

The second half began with Ogilvie making an excellent block before following the ball back out, and being caught by the follow-through from a second challenge; Jordan Hendrie took advantage of Ogilvie being down and forced a save from McGee, who got down quickly to turn the ball round the post.

Winks played a lovely ball forward for Akindayini, who had a chance to run on goal if his touch was good enough, but his chest control took him a little too far wide.

Oduwa then picked up the ball on the left again, cut in, but flashed a shot closer to the corner flag than the goal.

Centre-back Ogilvie fired an excellent long ball out to Sonupe who got round his man again, only for the full-back to bring him down. The resultant free-kick from Winks was cleared.

Winks then switched the ball quickly to Amos, who linked well with Sonupe, allowing the winger to progress although he was tackled fairly this time.

Oduwa hit the by-line after a nice piece of link-up play with Walker-Peters, but his attempted cross was blocked, and the ball ricocheted back off him and out for a goal-kick.

Walker-Peters recovered the ball well in a good area, and found Winks out wide. He chipped the ball toward Lesniak, but Sonupe assumed the pass was aimed at him and ended up losing possession.

Lesniak made a a rare poor pass which was intercepted, and Bolton won a corner off Maghoma. The captain, Gibson, met the corner but headed over.

Walker-Peters sold Miller short with a pass, allowing Bolton to break, but Maghoma made a fantastic block to stop them in their tracks.

Spurs countered and a fantastic diagonal from Amos found Oduwa – he went wide on the left, then cut on to his right, but had his effort blocked.

Spurs took the lead again when Sonupe went on another run down the right and found Miller with an accurate cut-back – he met it first time and produced a firm, low shot which gave the goalkeeper no chance.

Having gone ahead, Spurs made a couple of changes, bringing on Onomah and Walkes for Winks and Amos.

Oduwa smashed a firm effort from range towards the top corner with very little back-lift, but the keeper read it and got behind it with ease.

Bolton nearly drew level when Knight got on the end of Bailey’s cross to the back post – with Maghoma caught under the ball, Knight’s shot was hit into the ground on the stretch and bounced up awkwardly, drawing a fantastic save from McGee. From the resultant corner Knight then headed over.

A good run down the right from Anton Walkes ended with him cutting the ball back usefully, but he had overrun it slightly and a goal kick was given.

Miller showed his defensive ability – first doing really well to win a header at the back post, and then making a brave block moments later.

Ogilvie then showed off his tenacity, battling a couple of players singlehandedly and coming away with the ball.

The final change for Spurs saw Georgiou come on for Sonupe – he moved to the left, with Oduwa going to the right.

Oduwa found Georgiou with a fantastic pass, but he stumbled slightly as he had a chance to get free – he did well to keep the ball though, and his eventual cross was put out for a corner.

Oduwa then played in Walkes on the overlap, but his touch was a little heavy and the chance was lost.

Thomas Walker intelligently played a free kick down the line for Hendrie, but Walker-Peters closed him down quickly and made a decent block, with the resultant Bolton corner being overhit.

Oduwa had time for an incredible cameo – Walkes won a header, Miller got the loose ball down quickly and fed Oduwa, who drove forward from inside his own half beat a man, then another two men with a drop of the shoulder, but dragged his shot wide across the face.

Bailey came very close to levelling things when he thumped a shot off the crossbar after a poor pass from Walkes – I think Onomah got a slight nick on it as he tried to close the ball.

Georgiou showed a good touch and burst of pace to get down the left, before Onomah shot low and wide after Miller played in Georgiou for a cross-shot.

There was just time for one more chance for each side in injury time, with Miller losing the ball in midfield and needing a block from a teammate to save his blushes, and then Miller going up the other end and forcing a save from a curling effort after he was found by Akindayini.

Overall Spurs deserved the win against a robust and organised Bolton team. Bolton’s centre backs were very tall and strong, and gave little away. Their 4-5-1 was an old-fashioned 4-5-1 rather than the more flexible modern style, meaning we were unable to find much space through the middle. We managed to get plenty of joy down the flanks though, with Oduwa and Sonupe both threatening, but both had pretty inconsistent end product.

This was my first opportunity to catch the latest Academy intake, and I was pleased to see that this year look ahead of last year at the same point.

Luke McGee 7 – the eldest member of the team, and the most vocal. Gave excellent instructions to the very young defence ahead of him, made a couple of decent saves, and generally read the game well.
Luke Amos 6 – not a natural right back, but showed a real willingness to link with Sonupe (as well as Oduwa when the two wingers switched). I look forward to seeing more of him, particularly in his main position of central midfield.
Christian Maghoma 6 – made a couple of errors and is somewhat raw, but was mostly steady, incredibly strong (the guy is huge!) and relatively comfortable on the ball too. He’s definitely one to watch.
Connor Ogilvie 8 – really good performance. Perfect partner for Maghoma – as the more experienced player, he showed great responsibility in tidying up behind, and is also progressing with his possession play too.
Kyle Walker-Peters 7 – showed a certain tenacity and willingness to attack the ball in the air, which I liked. Got up well in support of Oduwa and, despite clearly being right-footed, he didn’t shy away from using his left at times.
Harry Winks 7 – aside from poor set pieces, he was pleasingly inventive, wanted to pass forward more often than not, and showed a willingness to get in the box, scoring a decent goal.
Filip Lesniak 8 – very, very steady game; protected the back four well, and also kept things ticking over in the middle of the pitch. Impressive.
William Miller 7 – reminds me a little of the recently released Munns in that he’s short, but stronger than he might look. He has a promising short passing game and a driving, probing style that is interesting to watch.
Emmanuel Sonupe 7 – it was clear from early in the match that Sonupe had the beating of his man, but he didn’t take advantage as often as he might have done. He has pace, is direct, and got two assists, but his final ball was pretty inconsistent. That said, consistency will come with age – he looks promising at this stage.
Daniel Akindayini 5 – struggled to get into the game against two physical centre-backs. He’s scored three goals in four games this season so far, but this wasn’t a game in which he excelled.
Nathan Oduwa 7 – such a tricky customer with bags of talent. Doesn’t always make the right decision, and doesn’t actually make any decision quickly enough at times, but he showed his undoubted ability throughout.

Anton Walkes – never having seen him play before, I’m not sure if he’s played right back previously, but he looked better going forward than he did defensively.
Josh Onomah – made a few errors, and looked a bit rough around the edges – I’ve seen him play much better.
Anthony Georgiou – looked lively, showed good strength and tenacity, and caused problems on the counter.