Talking points from Spurs’ unconvicing victory over Asteras



  • For the second time in five days Spurs put in a disappointing performance and rode their luck but for the second time in five days we took the three points. It’s difficult to know whether to be happy or worried!

  • This felt a lot like the Newcastle game. The first half was solid but uninspiring – Spurs had the lead and were comfortably in charge. Then from the first moments of the second half we were struggling. This time round we held on but if the Greeks had taken their chances it could have been very different.  What is Pochettino saying to the players at half-time?
  • The Tottenham defence is extremely vulnerable to balls over the top and swift counter attacks and it doesn’t seem to matter who plays in it. Part of this is the high defensive line without enough pressure on the ball, part of it a lack of cover in midfield. This isolates defenders and puts them at risk of giving away penalties and getting red cards. This was the fourth sending off for Spurs of the season and the seventh penalty we’ve conceded in just 18 games.
  • Given these defensive issues, I had recently advocated giving Stambouli a chance in the league, to try to add some more cover and a bit more dynamism. Here he provided little to no help, as a relatively mediocre team caused us some serious problems.
  • This season we have had difficulty breaking down compact defensive teams and our lack of width up front has been a big contributory factor. It also adds to our problems at the back, leaving the fullbacks very exposed. The average player position map for the game, clearly demonstrates the narrowness of our attack and midfield:
Asteras Spurs Positions

from (click for their site)

 It was noticeable that on two of the few occasions Townsend got at Asteras out wide he created our two goals.

  • Tottenham controlled the game with 69% possession but were out-shot 17 to 13. The statistics reflect the flow of the game as we had a lot of the ball but Asteras made a lot of the possession they had.
  • Fullback is a problem area for Tottenham at the moment. At Southampton Pochettino had Luke Shaw. Rose, Davies, Naughton and Dier as yet don’t compare. The sooner we get Kyle Walker back the better. He’s the one defender we have who can provide real danger on the overlap.
  • Dembele is a very frustrating player. He always seems to take several touches, look around, shimmy past a player, then pass it backwards. To me he just appears to get in the way.
  • Kane scored yet again, however the fact that he started here does not bode well for his chances of making the eleven in the league on Sunday. Surely Pochettino can’t leave him out?

Follow me on Twitter: @ABPSpurs

Are you happy with the performance? Do you think Spurs can win the Europa League? Let me know in the comments below.


6 thoughts on “Talking points from Spurs’ unconvicing victory over Asteras

  1. Woodsy

    I don’t share the doom and gloom opinion of yesterday’s game because we’re learning things and Poch is showing a willingness to change.

    Yes we were narrow but Townsend was moved to the left, gave us width and we scored. Happy days.

    In the first half, not only did we retain possession well but we moved the ball in tight areas pretty well making chances. We struggled under pressure in the second half but that doesn’t mean we didn’t play well in the first.

    We were weakest on the right hand side of defence but we already know Dier isn’t up to it there. We shouldn’t be surprised any more. Naughton will be back at the weekend and he’s looked decent defensively this season.

    The pitch was a real leveler, it was terrible. Whilst both teams have to cope with it, they’re used to it, we had to change our style.

    I’m hoping Townsend gets starts in the league soon as he’s improved a lot defensively and he’s far less wasteful this season.

    Kane’s best place is behind the front man and I’d like to see him play behind Soldado.

    Also, I have to defend Mouss. He has a tendency to slow up play but he’s passing the ball more and he did that well yesterday.

    1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

      I agree we shouldn’t be too upset, after all we won and we’re still learning.

      I forgot to mention how bad the pitch was and it slowed our passing.

      The thing with Kane is that although he suits the second striker position, at the moment I think he benefits the team more as the main striker. He played up front in the first half – when we played well – then when he was moved back as a second striker we lost his threat up top and lost a man in midfield. This contributed to our second half problems.

  2. Gillie

    Good article.
    I agree that the defence is certainly exposed too many times due to the lack of bite in midfield when we do not have possession.

    1. AnythingButPenalties Post author

      Cheers. For me whether we play natural or inverted depends on the game and if we can get Walker back fit. Here it certainly worked and we should have tried it in other games where we have struggled to create chances.


    Let us face it, we have a weak defence at the moment and we are not playing good consistent football despite our last two wins. Kane remains our key player and I would like to see him start in every match….

  4. Pingback: Spurs Stoke – Pulis’ legacy and the need for width | Anything But Penalties

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