Tottenham will need to improve on recent results if they are to get anything out of Tuesday night’s game against Inter Milan.
Spurs’ 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday was a flattering score line for the north London club, who had one of their sloppiest performances under Mauricio Pochettino. Tottenham were slow off the blocks and conceded in the first minute, only for the goal to be ruled offside. However, this did not send a warning to the Spurs players who continued to play their lacklustre football with multiple passes going astray and a number of them leading to Liverpool chances.
Just before half time the first goal scored by Liverpool came in that fashion with Spurs failing to clear the ball and Christian Eriksen heading the ball back to Liverpool who scored from the resulting corner.
Michel Vorm was heavily criticised for his poor contact of the ball that allowed Wijnaldum to head in, with the referee having to revert to goal line technology for clarification of the ball going in. Liverpool later doubled their lead after the ball hit the post and Michel Vorm couldn’t scramble onto the rebound, which resulted in Firmino tapping home.
Spurs’ trialled a 4-3-3 formation, with Dembele, Eriksen and Dier playing as a flat three, but struggled to get running and find their rhythm. Poor performances from Dembele and Dier didn’t help. Dembele who has been heralded for his excellent ability to hold onto the ball in the tightest of situations has been getting dispossessed a lot more frequently this season.
Meanwhile, his defensive partner Eric Dier has looked fatigued, having only had two weeks rest this summer, which is clearly taking an effect on the Englishman. Similarly, Harry Kane looks “weak”, unable to hold the ball up like he has previously done and he is missing that extra yard of pace, which has prevented him from being able to get shots on target.
Jan Vertonghen who must have been the most worried player on the pitch before the game coming up against Mohamed Salah, was one of Spurs’ only notable performers, managing to contain the rapid winger. What Vertonghen lacks in pace he more than makes up for in intelligent positioning and defending, making it very difficult for players to beat him. This will help him against Perisic in Tuesday nights game.
If Inter are to stop Tottenham in their tracks they must contain Lucas Moura, who seems to have found a new lease of life this season. His instant acceleration allows him to get away from players so quickly and he has the ability to dribble in such tight areas, causing trouble for the opposition. He played a key role in Spurs’ victory over Manchester United and is helping Harry Kane with some of the goal scoring weight.
Spurs will be boosted by the return of Asian cup winner Son Heung-Min. The winger comes back from international duty having won the Asian Cup meaning he becomes immune from the dreaded Korean military service. He seems in high spirits and was rested for the Liverpool match, making it more than likely that he would start for Spurs against Inter on Tuesday night.
In the past Pochettino has always included Erik Lamela in the starting line up against Italian outfits due to his understanding of Serie A from his time at Roma. However, even though he scored a consolation goal against Liverpool it will be unlikely that he will start with Son coming in.
Spurs must go back to playing a 4-2-3-1 with Moura and Son on the wings. Son always lifts his performances in the Champions League so it will be exciting to see how a front trio of Moura, Kane and Son will work together, with Kane perhaps dropping in deep to collect the ball and distribute it to the faster outlets.
Spurs, who are still the favourites, will also be boosted by Inter’s slow start to the season. They have only picked up four points from four games and are sitting in 15thplace in Serie A. Inter were beaten in the their last league fixture at home by Parma 1-0 who are also struggling, so they will be looking to bounce back from their poor start. Spurs must be wary of Inter’s wingers Perisic and Candreva who are dangerous on the counter attack. Inter Milan vs Tottenham should provide an intriguing tactical match up.