Game plan

Just a quick one from me in light of what we have just witnessed, as I feel like I need to unburden myself. Spurs’ main strength this season has been the ability with which we have implemented and stuck to our game plan. Tonight, against West Ham, we came up against a side who did the same, only better than us.

It is a huge compliment to Spurs that West Ham effectively set up like an away team, or a lower league side in a cup match. They could be forgiven for being confused and thinking it was a cup match, since they do treat this fixture like an annual final. The home side were happy to concede possession tonight, confident in their ability to keep us out.

Whilst we played our usual 4-2-3-1, West Ham opted to line-up in a 3-4-3. They had a back three (with Cheikhou Kouyaté as a makeshift centre-back), four across the middle (with Aaron Cresswell pushed up to the left of midfield), and — most importantly — Dimitri Payet (and, to a lesser extent, Manuel Lanzini) very high in support of Emmanuel Emenike.

West Ham average positions

Their front three put us under intense pressure from the beginning, and Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies and Hugo Lloris in particular struggled to maintain their passing quality. Trippier could not cope with Payet, Emenike occupied our centre-backs (giving Kevin Wimmer several scares along the way) and chased down Lloris terrifically, and Lanzini and Michail Antonio worked Davies over on the left.

But whilst there were poor individual displays, it was West Ham’s system which floored Spurs. We found it difficult to transition from back to front, and ended the first half having had zero shots. Their front three wouldn’t let us pass out, and their midfield two worked hard to stop us having any time on the ball.

No Mousa Dembélé in midfield meant that we could not just give him the ball and bypass the first line of defence – Ryan Mason and Eric Dier had a tough ask, and they struggled in a tough midfield battle with Mark Noble and the impressive Pedro Obiang, who made eight tackles (the same number as Mason).

The second half was somewhat different. Whilst we started fairly flat still, we played with more purpose, and with a ruggedness which at least gave the impression that we would not take defeat lying down. But ultimately it became a war of attrition, and West Ham seemed quick to the second balls and did well to keep us away from goal.

Harry Kane looked shattered, Nacer Chadli was ‘bad Chadli’ — he does that sometimes — and Son Heung-min’s touch eluded him when he came off the bench. It was not our night.

I felt at half-time that Mauricio Pochettino should change tactics and go to a midfield diamond and two up top (Kane and Chadli/Son). He could even have matched up to their 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, given that he had the versatile Dier at his disposal. But I can forgive him for having faith in our side to break them down, since we have done that so often of late.

We have shown this season that we are wonderful at bouncing back, and it is now up to the coaching staff to lift the team for the big one on Saturday. Win that and the feel-good factor is back again. COYS!

Join the conversation

  1. To summarise.... Slaven Bilic tactical genius
    1. SB will done
  2. The conditions and pitch really played into their hands, helping turn proceedings into a battle, which favoured them... It was far harder for us to transition swiftly on the deck through midfield, when the ball was bobbling and first-time passes were difficult to execute. The ref also contributed, being very lenient. And the crowd were rabid, as we were expecting. All in all, it combined to make the perfect storm.
  3. ""GerryinHongkong March 1, 2016 at 11:48 pm I dare to differ a little from Baba in my winning starting XI .v WHU Lloris Walker Rose, (both in great form. Keep them going.) Toby Wimmer Dier Mason Son Eriksen Chadli Kane When we in good control(ie. 2 goals up), let’s rest a few and have Lamela(who's not yet adapted to wet pitch and chilling temperature,add a third), Carroll and Bentaleb show their readiness for the NLD."" It could have been a 1-1 draw, or even a 2-1 win. But instead we lost. The difference was the 2 Europa games, during which time the spammers had plotted against our pressing mid-field by practising over the head long balls. Rotating the FBs for this match was wrong as the speed of Bonzo and Rose might have prevented the goal.
  4. To save AlSpur making even more of a fool of himself, Spurs played more long balls than West Ham. 76 to 74, according to Opta.
  5. Many of us are still rueing the missed chance to sit at the top of the table and to enjoy more breathing space from l’arse and the chasing pack. I suspect one of the reasons we lost, besides overplayed players, was the distraction on the lads of this coming NLD. Therefore I hope MoPo has already told the starting XI for Sat. that for the Dortmund game he would only start Lloris, Toby and Wimmer so the other 8 could wholeheartedly come into this game and focussed. Only the EPL champions and runners-up are assured of an ECL berth next season with no regards to whether English clubs win both the ECL and Ropey. We risk missing out of the top 2 and have no Europa silverware to show at the end of this season if we don’t take our EPL fixture seriously. The last 2 games we played with Oliver refereeing were draws. Could we win it this time? COYS
  6. Poch had been maintaining all competitions are important. Still he had opted for the Europa and dumped the FAC. Had we won all 3 games and got 9 points these 7 days, we could still fight on 2 fronts. Now we only get 4 points, the worries that some had expressed here are prominent. What if we keep losing soft points? Since Leic do not play in Europe nor the FAC, a win for them today might create an unreachable gap. Imagine us sitting at the 2nd spot at 3pm on May 15th just 2 points above 3 teams jointly third(ignoring GD ), and we just got knocked out in a PK shootout in the EL semi, our season could suddenly by 5 pm become a huge disappointment.
  7. i think it’s a bit harsh on the under-performance of Mason and Son. They came on after the steam had been let out of the team after the Kane goal celebration. For the Arse equaliser, Rose was tired and failed to prevent the cross. Dembele(obviously tired), Toby and Wimmer were all behind Sanchez and couldn’t catch him. Dier was carded and dared not tackle. NLD atmosphere took in the first 65 min whatever is left in our players who have played 16 games this years so far, especially when we had to overcome that 1 goal deficit.
  8. i think it’s a bit harsh to criticize on the under-performance of Mason and Son. They came on after the steam had been let out of the team after the Kane goal celebration.Mason played less than 30 min and Son had only 10. Our dependence on Eriksen as the playmaker falls into the hands of our oppositions. They simply cut off his passing channels in anticipation. Walker, to my surprise, did not get any negative comments here. IMO, he wasted a chance around the 85 min when he had the ball just outside the Arse’s left angle. He could use his speed and dribble thru the gap between 2 defenders into the area and have a shot at goal or pullback for someone coming in from the blindside. He needs to practise this skill as well as his crosses. (Compare him with the Arse RB who had our defence in 2 minds, not sure he was to run with the ball or passing, allowing him space and time to provide the 2 regrettable assists.)
  9. Counting potential points tally. A few had said that we could win all the remaining 9 EPL games and the runners up spot will be secure. I would add: There are 3 tough fixtures: @ anfield, v ManU,@ stamford Br. I reckon we draw these 3 and keep the same points buffer with them. I hope we do win all the other 6, PROVIDED THERE ARE NO MORE THUR ROPEY HANGOVERS.. Our season’s tally would then be:55+3+18=76 pts Unless Arsenal/City/WHU win all their remaining games. In that case. City=80 Arsenal=79 WHU=76 (There are 2 games; city v Ars, WHU v Ars; outcomes of which will change the above numbers.)
  10. The SINGLE REASON why Leicester City is top of the table today is DEDICATION. They are dedicated to be Premier League champions for once in their club history. Late in October they realised they had a chance and they immediately ditched the CO cup. They would very much like us to win on Jan 11th but we could not find a third goal. 3 days later they showed their true intentions by winning at WHL. Because of the low expectations for Spurs before the start of the season, a lot of our supporters have got carried away and thought we could win a treble! ( I admit I also hoped for favorable FAC draws, which we did get.) Even in these 2 days, I still read people saying qualifying for ECL is a good enough target, we are a young team, we could wait……. Ranieri’s strategy is simple but EFFECTIVE. He has 1 week before every PL game to instill into his players what each one of them has to do to make the whole team click for that particular opposition. The next Monday…………………..another battle plan for another side.(I suspect the spammers are plotting similarly.) Eleven players playing with a well-drilled plan sum up greater than eleven star players playing individually.(Unless they are all messi, Ronaldo, bale, Muller, Kroos, Lahm) WHY have Spurs failed to overtake Leic in this past definitive week? Finn wrote in an earlier blog on possible fatique of our key players. I say, in addition to that, at the rate of 2 games a week, the players don’t have enough time to know their oppositions and to train accordingly.(That we conceded first in the last 3 games illustrates this.) But after Spurs getting only 1 point from 2 London derbies and seeing Leic leads by 5 points, I think it is time for Poch and team to rethink their priorities. Should we still try to fight on 2 fronts, only to find out that Villa and Bournemouth are not pieces of cakes ? Should we lean on thinking that Leic would lose points in their last 9 games and we could catch up? (Since those “tough” sides Leic still has to play are still involved in Europe, and some middle of table teams who are disgusted by the monopoly of PL by the “Big Five” ready to lend a helping hand, Leicester getting max points is not impossible!) Should we lose out in the ropey(7 games) and fail to win enough games in the PL, would Poch quit for another ECL bound team? PS. Why only me posting?
    1. ADDING: I wish THFC could win the EL and stay 2nd in EPL.(ECL qualification+silverware)[better still, EPL champions, a double] But I also want Poch and players to be aware of the old saying,” A bird in hand is better than two in the tree.” Pick the easiest and surest way to achieve at least one of 2 goals. COYS
  11. I would be pleased if we get this starting XI at Dortmund: Vorm trippier Dier CCV Davies Bantaleb Winks Onomah Carroll Lamela Chadli The rested players have a full week to rehearse for the must-win Viilla game.
  12. The club wanted as much gates receipts and prize money from the FAC and Ropey as possible with progress to the rounds of 16 and didn’t give generously starting opportunities to Academy graduates. Players like Bentaleb, CCV, Winks and Onomah were seldom given a chance to show what they could do. Carroll was luckier because he scored goals when given the chance. I still believe these players could improve and become part of the great team we are going to watch in the next decade. Let’s give them each a role in next Thur ropey. Vorm Trippier CCV Dier Davies Bentaleb Winks Onomah Carroll Lamela Chadli
  13. The team did well at Villa Park. 2-0 was a respectable score for both teams. With Arsenal eliminated from the FAC, we must not be satisfied by the 3 point buffer. The remaining 8 PL games require thorough analysis of oppositions, plan A and Plan B....
  14. After the 2 Dortmund games, I have to say we have only one set of starting XI that clicks as a mind -settling surewin team. Players must work hard in summer to know each others’ game, then we have a chance to see “useless” players transformed. We don't have superstars. It's our pressing, intelligent reading of the game by key players at times, keen passing and diligent running by players not on the ball which brought us to the 2nd spot.
  15. […] Game plan […]
  16. […] Newcastle-aside, the season’s other low points for me were the West Ham match, where we barely turned up and struggled tactically… […]


Your email address will not be published.