The Tottenham Clique

I was going to try to go with clique-bait as a title, but I’m not sure it works and I’m not clever enough to think of something else witty. Anyway, I wanted to write a few words about last night, because I *really* enjoyed the match…

We know we have a good squad, missing just a couple of players to make it a ‘complete’ squad — a striker and a defensive midfielder, yada yada yada. But, when we have rested players previously, the team has not always clicked. Last night it felt like it did, eventually.

The first ten minutes or so were pretty loose. Nabil Bentaleb was loose, the passing was loose, nothing was really coming off. We kept trying to do things ‘the right way’, though. We moved the ball quickly through the centre-backs and particularly through Tom Carroll and Bentaleb and got it into the final third as early as possible. The attacking quartet of Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli tried to play early passes between Leicester defenders or into channels and made aggressive runs in behind regularly enough to keep Leicester guessing. They didn’t often come off but the ideas were there. And then finally Son smashed a beauty in just before half-time and we were halfway there.

When Leicester came at us in the second half we were under pressure without ever really looking vulnerable. The second string centre-backs were doing a great job – Kevin Wimmer was as solid as ever and Eric Dier dropped in as if he’d never played anywhere else. Even Michel Vorm put in a steady performance.

It was pleasing to see a (mostly) second string play at a promising tempo and with a style nearly identical to that of the first team, and for the job to be done in such a professional way. It gives me hope that we *can* compete in three competitions, and I hope that it gives Mauricio Pochettino more confidence to be able to rotate more regularly, as several players are at risk of burn-out at this point.

Whether Son has done enough to force his way into the starting XI for the Palace game is to be seen, but we know from experience that Pochettino does tend to operate a meritocracy. Of course, he could legitimately be rotated in for any of the attacking midfielders without question of one of them being ‘dropped’, as all will need a break — particularly Alli.

And Bentaleb did himself no harm either. After a couple of dicey moments early on, he settled into the game and spread play early, with nice, firmly struck passes which got us moving forward quickly. That won’t have gone unnoticed and I think we can expect to see him get more game-time over the next few months.

Colchester United await in the next round, and another opportunity to give the second string a go – hopefully with Josh Onomah and Harry Winks getting some pitch-time. It’s all going so well; what could possibly go wrong?

Join the conversation

  1. Bentaleb went back to speaking to Poch after every goal. I never know what they talk about, but I think it shows that their relationship is not broken.
    1. Absolutely right.
  2. Yes - I noted Bentaleb's continual communication with Poch. Looked like he was a valuable conduit from the touchline to the team. He'll get more chances.
    1. I liked it too.
  3. It was a very professional performance and great to watch. I loved the Bentaleb chats with MOPO, the fact he wasn't worried about celebrating but wanted more instructions about what to do next I thought was amazing to see. COYS
    1. Showed a level of focus I've been wanting to see for some time.
      1. It was something that I believe Bentaleb did often last season - straight to the touchline for fluid and instructions. Other then for big goals in big games, he was straight over to Poch, not worried about celebrations, just thinking about the match. Always think that's a sign of a switched-on player, especially for a youngster. Or, he's a big suck-up try-hard. Lolz.
  4. Very professional performance. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Still not convinced we have the squad to fight to the best of our ability on 3 fronts though? Would hate to fall 'just short' on all 3. For me Son is the best we have at creating something from nothing. Give Alli a rest (or Lamela) and give Son a chance to shine. Alli or Lam can be the impact subs. The next couple of games give chance for a little rotation. Loving how we are going about business this season. A quality forward would be the cherry this window. Although playing with 1 striker (and Kanes form) may not be that attractive for most strikers to join our revolution. I personally dont see the need for another DM. A 'true' winger for options during a game would be my second signing.
    1. Son is a fabulous player, I think he's going to be a real star next year.
  5. My starting 11 for Palace game: Lloris Walker Toby Vert Rose Dier Bentaleb Son Dembele Chadli Kane I agree that we should rest some players for the FA cup 4th round especially when the February fixtures look a little congested.
    1. I like that side other than Chadli...!
      1. Chadli did contribute by scoring in 90+ minutes. My starting 11 for FA cup 4th round Vorm Walker Dier Wimmer Davies Winks Bentaleb Onomah Lamela Son Chadli Mason, Eriksen, Alli and Kane travel but just signing autographs.
  6. I have to say it looked like we do have a policy of traing a formation and style. Too many times when we have rotated, the incoming players don't fit or look like they've never trained a formation. The Arse have had a policy like that since Wenger started and it does make a difference when 'fringe' players come in. TBH, I though the only player to be a bit of a liability was Vorm. He just does not seem to command or have communication with players in his box.
    1. Yes, important to remain consistent in style regardless of individuals playing.
  7. I think Son's directness really helped us break down Leicester. When we don't play either him or Dembele in an attacking role, we tend to lack penetration in the final third - too much intricate play through the middle. If you were Poch, which players would you start to ensure a good balance between creativity and directness?
    1. Good question. Alli and Son generally add directness, but I do feel like when Dembele plays in CM, we need another breaker from deep. So maybe Son and Alli should always start if Dembele's playing in the pivot.
  8. “I really want to see us winning the league this season. It’s been so many years since we last won it.” Fighting on 3 fronts and doing well in each of them is probably not a feasible approach. I believe Poch is trying to delay a decision until the Citeh game. If we win the next 2 matches and Leics and Arse both lose points, Poch might focus on the PL champions spot. Whereas should we lose points, a top 4 finish and progress in one or both cups becomes his concern. Winning the next 2 matches is of vital importance, imho. Saturday’s forecast says rainy and windy. I am not sure whether Lamela is suitable in such weather. Watford is quite physical so a fluid attacking combination of Alli, Eriksen, Son and Kane is my preference. Trippier and Rose?Davies? send crosses in like last time. COYS
  9. Sunday's forecast says near zero temperatures up in Manchester area. Lamela has been below par on cold days. My preferred starting 11 therefore are: Lloris Trippier Toby Wimmer Davies Dier Mason Alli Eriksen Dembele Kane
  10. Poch should work the squad on set pieces again.(We have 2 goals from free kicks last time.)


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