Where to start? The bad news or the bad news? It’s a shame to have to have to be negative but this was a dreadful performance from Tottenham, and Stoke thoroughly deserved their win.
Spurs came into the game on a run of three victories but we hadn’t played well in the last two games and had ridden our luck in both. That couldn’t continue. Either we had to improve or we were eventually going to come unstuck. Unfortunately it was the latter.
Pochettino had finally given in to the calls for Kane to start and he went close early on with a header. Of course Spurs recent problems have not been confined to the strikers but there was a hope his positive attitude might help lift the malaise hovering over the squad.
As it was, the usual problems were there in spades.
The two Stoke goals were so simple. The first, from former Barcelona prodigy Bojan, was markedly similar to the third goal we conceded against Liverpool (from Alberto Moreno). Here the Spaniard picked the ball up near his own half and drove through midfield. No Spurs midfielder got close to challenging him. Fazio and Kaboul – neither particularly mobile – backed off, inviting the shot, and Stoke were ahead.
The second goal was a defensive disaster, very similar to the Villa goal from last week. Rose was caught out of position after a turnover. Diouf put a low ball into the box, where a completely unmarked Walters smashed home. The centre backs had gone missing, yards away from the Stoke player.
Interestingly Pochettino had picked Fazio and Kaboul against a pacy, mobile Stoke attack including Moses, Bojan and Diouf. He appeared to be expecting the Tony Pulis Stoke of old, or at least a start for Spurs old boy, Peter Crouch. Fazio is great in the air but two recent red cards testify to his lack of pace. Kaboul may have been quick once but injuries have taken their toll. It looked like a poor selection.
It would be unfair to lay all the blame on the defence. The midfield was not offering much cover and the whole team was guilty of giving Stoke too much time, not putting enough pressure on the ball. Pressing was supposed to be Pochettino’s trademark.
Capoue and Mason were guilty of not picking up midfield runners – the Bojan goal was just the most obvious example. It was noticeable that in the second half both got booked stopping opposition counter attacks. The manager had presumably had a word at half time.
Townsend was in the starting eleven after a promising appearance in the Europa league against Asteras. It was when he got out wide left that he did the damage against the Greeks, providing the width we’ve been lacking. Here he was anonymous on the right.
Eriksen was off the pace and lightweight, often beaten to the ball or muscled out. Stoke are still a physical team. Dembele came on at half time and, although I have not been a big fan of the Belgium midfielder recently, here his physical presence helped us hold on to possession better. He didn’t contribute a lot that was telling in the final third but at least we had more control.
Of course the game wasn’t just about Tottenham’s failings. Stoke played extremely well. Aggressive and strong off the ball, pacey and direct on it, they showed us what we were missing. However as the game wore on, Hughes’ side began to tire. They had put in a lot of effort and it seemed to be taking its toll. The memory of surrendering a two goal lead against West Ham last weekend can’t have helped their nerves.
Either way Spurs were handed a lifeline. It was Chadli who got the late goal again and in a strangely similar manner to last weekend. A cross missed everyone in the centre and the Belgian fired in from a very acute angle. A wonderful finish. His goal scoring has been one of the few high points this season.
The hope didn’t last long. Moses ran clear on goal. Naughton, lacking the pace to keep up with him, brought him down. The centre backs were nowhere to be seen, as usual, so he had to go. A fifth red of the season. Spurs lack of pressure on the ball, high line and slow defence is leaving defenders isolated.
So a very disappointing result that means we have lost four out of six at home in the league. Of our summer transfers, only Fazio made the starting eleven, and he didn’t exactly distinguish himself. Pochettino must be given money to make more telling signings in January.
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Were there any positives from the game? How can Pochettino turn things round? Let me know in the comments below.
Something must be wrong with Spurs for us to be losing so often on our home ground to teams we should be able to beat.Our players are not good enough and Pochettino made a poor team selection. Kane, good and promising as he is, is not experienced enough play on his own up front as striker. Shouldn’t we try a 4-4-2 formation? Most of the players are playing like ‘amateurs’ showing a lack of basic football skills. For instance, when Bojan dribbled his way towards our goal area, our players did nothing about it. Instead of closing in on him to make a tackle, they retreated giving him all the space and time he needed to have a shot at goal which beat Lloris. I think that generally speaking, our players lack commitment, the passion and winning mentality, the mental approach, cohesion and consistency….
The lack of cover in midfield for the first goal was criminal, as was the defensive positioning for the second.
if only lamela scored his freekick… then my theory about him being an impact sub would have been validated :P
Joke aside, the two most disappointing players were Kaboul and Ericksen. Kaboul was the one talking about being courageous and mentally stronger yet he was the one that was lacking the most. He was playing as if he just wanted to get sent off (he was lucky not to get a red card for that reckless two footed challenge). Fazio may not have been better but like you said, he’s a summer signing still getting used to the pace (that’s the only excuse i have for him).
Last season, we were all clamouring for Ericksen to start as the number 10 and so far, he has disappointed enormously. Please don’t tell me that Sherwood was right all along and that the left wing was his best position…
Kaboul was dreadful. I wonder if Pochettino is regretting making him captain. The analysis I saw showed his bad positioning and he was ducking out of headers.
It is funny about Eriksen. He looks too easy to muscle off the ball. I was all for him playing centrally but maybe coming in from the left might make it harder for the defence to pick him up. Still it does leave the left back exposed.
Average players with a good mentality are still average players. I think Poch is missing the point somewhat; I actually think the will to win was evident among most of the players on Sunday.
I couldn’t believe how many passes went straight to Stoke players. Careless? Trying to hard? Not on the same page? We looked like strangers playing together for the first time.
Kaboul and Fazio look terrible because they are easily exposed by a midfield that gives the ball away too easily, and are too high up the pitch to make challenges as they can’t recover if they miss.
Our midfielders look terrible as they have no wide men to distribute to and only one striker to aim for, meaning they give the ball away easily.
Our attacking players look terrible because they are all too similar and like to operate in the central space, predictable to defend against and too congested.
Our strikers look terrible because they are isolated from any kind of service and do not suit a single striker formation.
Our full backs look terrible because, well, they’re terrible.
I think we our biggest problem is that Poch is loyal to one particular style of play yet selects individuals and combinations that do not suit this system. If he wants to stick to the system, he needs to select different players; if he wants to pick his best eleven players, he needs to change the system to suit their strengths.
Very good post. I think you hit the nail on the head.
Slow CBs playing a high line.
Fullbacks that don’t provide width.
DMs that don’t track runners.
Danny Rose thinks he’s a left sided Dani Alves. Naughton is just a 6/10 player unfortunately. Let’s get Yedlin in ASAP as it will be a long time until Walker is fit.
The only genuine wide players we have are Lennon and Townsend and they cannot be relied upon either to stay fit, in form or to put a decent cross in.
Meanwhile in the squad we have Dembele, Paulinho, Bentaleb, Chadli, Eriksen, Mason, Capoue, all vying for central roles.
You have to ask how we have ended up with such a lopsided squad. The answer I believe lies with Baldini….
Pochettino too often makes mistakes about his selection of players who do not suit the system as a result of which there is no cohesive play at all. Take teams like Southampton, Swansea, Everton, West Ham
and Stoke. They do not have extraordinarily good players but they play collectively as a team, which we don’t….
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