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.

Join the conversation

  1. Holtby was brilliant when he came on.
  2. I normally enjoy your blogs but I found this one very vanilla and generic. Also a bit boring if I'm honest. Copied and pasted some images from other sites and said the subs were good essentially. Come on windy you can do better than that.
    1. The images are generated via FourFourTwo Stats Zone - they tell an interesting story IMO and show the impact of our subs. Lots of balls into and around the box, which eventually broke down Cardiff and created the goal.
      1. I actually really enjoyed this blog, Windy, as it highlights the usage of statistics and analytics to get a better understanding of the game and what happened. The discussion of football is evolving into a more detailed, analytic approach using numbers and statistics as evidence.
      2. It does but even if we made no subs we still would of stuck more balls in the box. This was as a result of the game plan tactics and not purely down to the personnel IMO
  3. Really is amazing how much impact Holtby had for coming on at the 89th minute. @johnrowley I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, your opinion is fascinating.
    1. I'm not digging out windy here but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Windy's article in essence reads.....subs made,more direct play and balls into box, goal. I think we scored as a result of nackering them out for 90minutes with all our possession and pressure. It wasn't a sub who made a lung bursting run into the box remember it was a CM who had been playing all game. JR
  4. At Last! Someone who agrees about Kane. I've always said he's more of a John White/Teddy Sheringham type player than out & out striker. Good first touch, looks for other players and should contribute a few goals as well. Whether in a Spurs shirt or else where, I think he has a bright future.
  5. Loved Kane's shot where he dummied inside the defender and shot toward the far post - was nearly a goal as as well. The big question of course is whether he'll be good enough for us.
  6. Lamela has an air about him i like, against tromso the other night i noticed that awkward cross field, spinning and dipping balls would suddenly stop looking awkward once they got near him, even before his touch, it's a body language thing probably. Holtby will always add something when brought on, if he's back to fitness i expect to see more of him. And finally Kane gets a gig that suits him, the poor guy has had a heap of expectation forced on him over the years by our not buying a striker to replace berbatov in so long i guess. The Sheringhams of this world are few and far between, we need to nurture him carefully. Sterling work as ever windy, fascinating to actually see that that happy puppy attitude Holtby brings to the field is actually as effective as it is endearing
    1. I agree re Lamela. He makes the game look easy. I think Spurs fans were hoping he'd be a like-for-like Bale replacement, beating full backs with a mix of strength and explosive bursts of pace. But his style is more subtle. And you're right, he's at such ease on the ball, his take-downs look almost unremarkable. That said, he needs time to settle - and at the moment he's still looking a little shy. He's performing at nowhere near his full potential and he's already frighteningly good. Just wait!
  7. […] 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 […]
  8. […] openings *to* finish. That’s not to say he hasn’t got substitutions right – his late changes against Cardiff worked wonders, the introduction of Huddlestone against Everton last season was a masterstroke, and his tactical […]

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