Analysis of the goal conceded vs Stoke

Whelan’s goal.

Oh dear. When are we going to learn? More defensive mistakes, another goal conceded. We were very unlucky not to get at least a point from this game but, as the cliche goes, if you make mistakes like this at the top level, you are going to get punished.

Again, it starts from a fairly innocuous situation. With Lennon off the field, we are a little short, but when Fuller receives the ball, he is only just over the halfway line.

Palacios makes up ground absolutely superbly to get back and help AssouEkotto. Notice the eventual scorer, Glen Whelan at this point, to the top right of the shot.

Palacios works hard to help AssouEkotto out, and it still seems like the situation is under control. Whelan has begun his run off Fuller here, hoping that he can work some space for a pass.

A couple of weeks ago, after the Bolton game, I accused Palacios of Zokoraesque defending – he seemingly hasn’t learnt his lesson. Having tracked back over half of the length of the pitch, and being so close to seeing this situation out, he has two options:

1. Keep shadowing Fuller with AssouEkotto, and make sure that we clear the ball.
2. Track the run of Glen Whelan and ensure that if Fuller makes a yard, he has limited options.

He chooses option 3 – stand still, do nothing, let the play unfold.

AssouEkotto is beaten for strength, and it is undoubtedly poor one-on-one defending from him – a shame because he otherwise had a decent game.

But if you look at this shot from the other angle, AssouEkotto forces Fuller to over play, and if Palacios HAD continued his tracking, he could have cleared the ball at this point.

Alternatively, he could have followed Whelan, who now has so much time and space when Fuller picks him out. Bassong is caught in two minds – in fairness, once Benoit is beaten, he has to come across to ensure that Fuller doesn’t have a free run at goal.

Dawson throws himself at Whelan, who probably should be helping the ball on to Tuncay, now unmarked. Instead, he launches an unstoppable drive.

I have to take some responsibility for this goal – as Whelan was coming on, I said “I’ve never rated Whelan“. So for that, I apologise!

Palacios has to take much of the blame for this, though. Yes, AssouEkotto is beaten one-on-one, but Fuller is a lot bigger and stronger than him and let’s not forget that he already had his work cut out once Lennon (who had switched to the left) had to go off. He needed help from Wilson, and he didn’t get it.

Our lack of clean sheets

Just the one clean sheet for Spurs this season which is quite different to the second half of last year; we kept 7 in the league from February on.

A number of possible reasons for this, I feel, but I’d like to highlight three.

1. Defensive changes.

So far this season we have fielded the following back fives:

Vs Liverpool: Gomes Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto
Vs Hull: Gomes Hutton Corluka Bassong Assou-Ekotto (1 change)
Vs West Ham: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes)
Vs Doncaster: Cudicini Naughton Corluka Bassong Hutton (2 changes)
Vs Birmingham: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes)
Vs Man United: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Chelsea: Cudicini Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Preston NE: Gomes Hutton Dawson Huddlestone Bale (5 changes)
Vs Burnley: Cudicini Corluka Huddlestone Bassong Assou-Ekotto (4 changes)
Vs Bolton: Cudicini Corluka Huddlestone Bassong Assou-Ekotto (0 changes)
Vs Portsmouth: Gomes Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto (2 changes).

One clean sheet so far vs Burnley, as highlighted.

Whilst King clearly has to be carefully managed and, as a result, he can’t play every game, there have been changes for cup games (understandably). This has meant that there have been only three games in which there were no changes to the defensive line-up. This can’t be good for confidence and consistency, and may well have something to do with our poor defensive record. A settled (as much as possible) defence will help us no end – hopefully now that Gomes is fit, he can stay fit. Once we get Woodgate and Dawson back to full fitness, Redknapp will need to make a decision on who is first choice. I presume it will be Woodgate, but I personally felt that Dawson out-performed him last year. But that’s by the by.

2. Jermaine Jenas

The Jenas and Palacios midfield partnership was an integral part of our clean sheet record last year. They formed a strong base which allowed our attacking players to go and express themselves. Indeed, at times we played a 4-2-3-1, similar to Liverpool:

Corluka Woodgate King Assou-Ekotto
Jenas Palacios
Lennon Keane Modric

This seemed to work well for us, with three attacking players who were creative, but also knew their defensive responsibilities.

This season, whether it’s because we’ve been without Jenas or not, we’ve tended towards a flat 4-4-2, with Huddlestone and Palacios playing in central midfield in the majority of games. Whilst Huddlestone is a lovely passer of the ball, his defensive awareness is still quite poor at this stage of his career, and even when he is switched on, he doesn’t have the mobility to get up and down the pitch quickly enough.

Jenas, whilst not exactly the most popular player amongst the fans, is one of our more “responsible” players; by this I mean that he doesn’t shirk his defensive duties. He will track runners, and he will drop deeper where necessary. It could be coincidence, but our one clean sheet came on his second start of the season.

3. Wilson Palacios

Palacios is on easily his worst run of form in a Spurs shirt, and needs to lift his game. Whilst even an off-form Palacios is more effective than Zokora, he is also capable of making some of the same mistakes that Didier was often criticsed for: namely unnecessary fouls (giving free-kicks in dangerous areas), and sloppy/over-ambitious passing.

Palacios was a vital, vital cog for us last year, and we badly need him back to his best if we’re going to continue our good run, and particularly if we want to keep more clean sheets.

Analysis of the goal conceded vs Portsmouth


Another poor goal to concede this weekend – we’re still stuck on one clean sheet, and this kind of defending shows why.

A ball is played down the channel which Kaboul chases. I think AssouEkotto is trying to shield Bassong from Kaboul so that he can get distance on his clearance. Either way, between them, they get in a real mess

Kaboul shows good desire, and gets a toe on the ball.

This has taken two defenders out of the game – pretty pathetic! The first rule of defending is “don’t talk about defending”. Or perhaps that’s only at Spurs? Of course, it should be “if in doubt, put it out”.

Kaboul sensibly passes the ball back to Finnan, who seemingly overhits his cross.

But at this point, Corluka has been forced to come across to cover Bassong, who had gone over to help AssouEkotto.

This leaves Boateng in plenty of space, and he has time to watch the ball on to his foot. Note Gomes‘ position at this point. He has already come across to this side of the goal, and his near post is seemingly well protected.

Also well worth noting Lennon’s position (at least I think it’s Lennon – apologies Aaron if it’s not you!). Perhaps harsh to blame a right midfielder for a goal like this, but he has not come round to cover for Corluka.

Boateng’s technique is decent enough – he strikes the ball well here but, again, worth noting Gomes‘ position. He simply shouldn’t be beaten from here.

But he lets it creep in – although he made some good saves this week, he has to take his share of the blame for this goal.

Personally I’d like to see Dawson or Woodgate back in the team next week. I think Bassong has had a promising start to his Spurs career, but he is still raw and his mistakes have already cost us goals this year.

Academy round-up 11/10/09

First of all, huge congratulations to Ryan Mason, Steven Caulker, Dean Parrett and Adam Smith – all in the England U19 squad for the European U19 Championship First Qualifying Round in Slovenia between October 9-14. The games are against Finland, Slovenia and Slovakia. They won the first game against Finland 3-1 yesterday – Ryan (1st cap) and Dean (3rd cap) started, Steven (1st cap) came on as a sub, and Adam (0 caps as yet) wasn’t used. Dean captained the side, and scored the 3rd goal in the 92nd minute.

In addition, Danny Rose (currently on loan at Peterborough) played for England U21 last night, and Jon Obika has just returned from an England U20 trip. Meanwhile, Paul McBride will join up with the Republic of Ireland U18s next week.

A couple of articles from the official site:
Proud moment for Academy
Parrett on target

This week, the U18s lost 4-2 away at Leicester, with Oyenuga and M’Poku getting our goals.

Here’s how things have gone since my last update:

FA Premier Academy League
Sat 12 Sep (at Southampton) Southampton U18s 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers – M’Poku, Oyenuga, McBride

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Fredericks (16) Nicholson (17) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Kane © (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher, 76
Waller-Lassen (16) for Fredericks, 80.
Blackwood (18) for M’Poku, 89.

Not used:

Ranieri (17)
O’Neill (17)

Spurs Official Site report.
Confidence the key
Spurs Odyssey report.
Southampton Official Site report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 19 Sep (at Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s vs Fulham

Scorers: Kane, Smith, Oyenuga, Fredericks, Waller-Lassen 2

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) Kane © (16) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher (18), 46.
Waller-Lassen (16) for McBride
Blackwood (18) for Francis-Angol

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
Lancaster (16)

My report.
Spurs Odyssey report.
Official Site report.
Official Site interview with Inglethorpe.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 26 Sep (at Bristol) Bristol City U18s 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers: Oyenuga, Kane, McBride, Waller-Lassen

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Byrne (17) Durojaiye (16) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) M’Poku (17) Kane © (16) McBride (17)
Oyenuga (16)

Waller-Lassen for Fredericks, 70
Blackwood for Durojaiye, 80
Lancaster for McBride, 80

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
O’Neill (17)

Official Site report.
Spurs Odyssey report to appear here.
Bristol City Official Site report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 03 Oct (at Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s vs Watford



FA Premier Academy League
Sat 10 Oct (at Leicester) Leicester City U18s 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur U18s

Scorers: Oyenuga, M’Poku

Butler (17)
Blackwood (18) Durojaiye (16) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Waller-Lassen (16) M’Poku (17) Kane © (16) McBride (17)
Oyenuga (16)

Ranieri (17) for Butler, 32
Fredericks (16) for Nicholson, 78
Lancaster (16) for McBride, 68

Not used:

Foxes bite back
Leicester City U18s 4 Spurs U18s 2


Analysis of the goals conceded yesterday

The first goal.

On the surface, this situation looks relatively harmless. We have Cudicini plus eight defenders against four Bolton players in the box. It’s the two outside that we need to be worried about – we ONLY have Jenas set up to mark both of these.

As Gardner starts to make his break into the box (notice Keane pointing him out), Jenas has to make a decision – does he stay with the man nearest the edge of the box, or does he track Gardner.

Jenas makes the only decision that he can, and moves towards Gardners run. He anticipates that Bassong is going to win the header, and takes up a position to be able to clear away should it come to him.

When Bassong’s header skims off the top of his head, we now have a problem. Gardner’s still moving at pace, and nobody has gone with him. At this point, it’s appropriate to highlight Kranjcar’s position – Gardner is now his man, but he is ball-watching.

Fortunately, Gardner can only help the ball on, and Assou-Ekotto reacts to get to the flight. Kranjcar is still ball watching.

When the ball comes out to Lee, it could be argued that Assou-Ekotto doesn’t do enough to stop the shot. Also, notice Cudicini’s positioning – for me, he’s too far over to his near post. Jenas has, by this point, also come across to help out his goalkeeper. Kranjcar has totally switched off now and is in a pointless position.

When the shot comes back across goal, Cudicini has left himself with too much to do, and he ends up palming the ball out into absolutely the worst position. Important to notice Kranjcar again – dawdling as Gardner is now totally unmarked.

Kranjcar reacts too late, a simple finish.

The 2nd goal.

Defoe closes Ricketts well, but his long-ball is very precise.

It’s brought down terrifically well by Gardner, although Corluka was caught slightly upfield and as a result is not tight enough.

Great football this by Bolton. Gardner pops it inside, but we still look fairly safe – Lennon has tracked back, and Wilson Palacios is round on the cover.

Great first touch from Cohen, guided into Lee’s feet. Two good technical players here, no doubt about that. However, Huddlestone is nowhere near tight enough to Lee, and watch Palacios as Cohen passes and carries on moving – does he presume that Lennon is going to track the runner? Remember that Lennon is wrong-side, so this is an incorrect assumption from Palacios.

In fact, it’s almost Zokora-esque. He is sucked towards the ball, and totally ignores Cohen’s run.

Great stuff from Bolton, though – a cheeky back-heel from Lee, although it does put Cohen fairly wide, and Spurs have plenty back to defend the cross. At this point, notice Assou-Ekotto’s position with Davies. In the commentary, Trevor Francis says that “Assou-Ekotto doesn’t notice Davies lurking” – now, how can this be?

Cohen stands the ball up, and Cudicini is left scrambling across his line. He needs help from his defender here.

Assou-Ekotto is still well-positioned to deal with this.

But for some reason, he doesn’t anticipate the danger. I don’t personally think that he bottles it – it’s a simple header to make, and he doesn’t even need to make contact with Davies – just go and put it out for a corner. He waits for Cudicini, though, and Davies steals in.

Bolton’s first goal was a classic Bolton goal – a ball into the box, win the second balls and get it back into the danger area. Bassong’s header was poor, but Kranjcar and Cudicini are also at fault for me.
The second, though, was a really well-worked goal. But also an avoidable one – had Palacios done his job properly, and had Ass0u-Ekotto headed the ball out, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

So all in all, poor defending for both goals, and there were other moments in the game where we looked shaky too. I don’t think Huddlestone’s selection at centre back was a good one, and I thought Palacios had his fourth under-par game in a row.