Brighton vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Brighton vs Tottenham: Snuffing out or just stuttering?

Tottenham played their best football of the season for a 30-40 minute stretch on Tuesday night before extending their losses to three in a row (which has never been seen before under Mauricio Pochettino) because sometimes that is just how football is.

The underlying mental weakness which Spurs and Pochettino have worked so hard, for so long to banish from the conversation surrounding the club crept back in, as three points as of 85 minutes became none by full time.

The discourse digs in deeper now. Is Pochettino’s head already elsewhere? Are the players still willing to invest? Has the system been found out? Is the project reaching it’s conclusion?

We can’t mind read but we can point to more tactical explanations and solutions. They are three-fold: Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool Preview: Just Score First

The ‘head-to-head record’ may well be the weakest statistic used in football but the sport is changing. The top teams, at least, are firmly out of the era of the reactive and into that of proactive tactical approach. Alternatively phased, we now have a lot of managers who are accused of not having a plan B.

As a result, the last seven games between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – in the period since Jürgen Klopp took over – have been largely very similar.

Screenshot from 11v11.com

Spurs open themselves up with possession football. Liverpool turn the ball over in midfield and counter-attack with rapid pace. Spurs do a decent job of pressing in return to suffocate the counters, and are less tired by the end of the game so can rally back (as evidenced by the fact only two of their goals in these fixtures have come before 60 minutes). Read More

Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur

Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Fancifying The Four Four Two

Time and time again, Spurs fans end the season incredibly proud of Mauricio Pochettino’s achievements but questioning what might have been if only the team had started the season as strongly as they were throughout the rest.

It’s highly promising then that Tottenham have begun the 2018/19 season with three straight wins – that third win coming at Old Trafford, no less.

Already there are hushed tones of a title race and if you brace your ear to the wind you will hear the clickity-clackity sound of think pieces on the power of not making any transfers being typed into existence.

Still, a tough test does lie ahead if Spurs want to make it four in four and start separating themselves on the table this early in the season.

Pochettino found eventual success against José Mourinho’s Manchester United after shifting to a 4-2-2-2 shape which has been a consistent for Watford in their opening three games. Read More

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Do Spurs Have Any Players?

Things may well change in the 11th hour but at the time of writing Tottenham haven’t signed a single player. Add to that the majority of the squad going deep in the World Cup and Spurs fans have been treated to one of the most comically irrelevant pre-seasons imaginable.

The vast majority of minutes, that we are told are crucial to building fitness, were absorbed by squad players unlikely to be in Pochettino’s long-term plans and youngsters, who while promising and we are glad to see sight of, are some way off breaking into the squad on a more permanent basis.

With the likes of Harry Kane, Dele, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris only returning to training this week they may well remain out of the starting XI for the season opener against Newcastle.

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Company of the Cup

No fewer than nine players through to the semi-finals of the World Cup are signed to Tottenham Hotspur; more than any other club. The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson proposes that Mauricio Pochettino is the ‘most influential coach’ at the tournament.

It’s certainly nice to view his coaching through that lens and to also look at this as a mark of Spurs’ academy production and focus on smart recruitment of young, often domestic, talent paying off.

Another element is Pochettino’s clear influence on England’s play-style. Bielsa style counter-pressing and use of a three man defence to facilitate a Positional Play model are two major principles shared by both the club and the national team – though similar traits are also shared by Conte’s Chelsea and Pep’s City.

There can be little doubt that Pochettino is at the forefront of tactical and coaching development, a spearhead of effective, proactive football. The reality of the situation, though, is that it’s simply quite a lot down to chance that Tottenham boast such an impressive nine man ‘Company of the Cup’.

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Colombia 1-2 Japan: A Whisper in Davinson’s Ear

Have a search on Twitter for “fullback whisperer” and you will find the unending adulation of Spurs fans towards Mauricio Pochettino. His rapid development of, first at Southampton, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers, and now Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier has been remarkable. Hope for the future of Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters is quite high, despite the former’s ugly start.

But as a former centre-back himself it’s slightly surprising that it is wide defenders that he is most closely associated with as a coach.

On Tuesday many Tottenham fans will have tuned in to watch Colombia. A chance to get a sight of rumoured target Wilmar Barrios, and to see familiar face Davinson Sanchez. But he failed to turn in a familiar performance.

There’s no doubt that Carlos’ Sanchez 3rd minute red card had a significant impact on the remaining ten men’s games but it was Davinson’s fluffed clearance that led Carlos to reactively, illegally throw out his arm and stop the on-target shot.

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Spurs Player of the Season: Do Kids Know Best?

The Tottenham membership have ended the 2017/18 season divided among a generational line. Jan Vertonghen won the Members’ Player of the Season and Christian Eriksen the Junior Members’. Is much lauded experience the key to identifying Spurs’ Star or are the new generation of analytics awoken youth wise beyond their years?

Eriksen comes out top on Twelve’s ranking system with Vertonghen coming in 3rd to sandwich Harry Kane.

It is a testament to both his award-competing teammates and the standards set by the striker himself that he could record a 30 goal League season and still be deemed to have had a slightly off season.

Although the younger fans have opted for the more attacking player if they were making their selection based on goals and excitement then Kane would have been the obvious choice. Instead they collectively voted for the dainty Dane, a player of subtlety and guile.

Christian Eriksen

The Twelve widget captures him not only performing at various stages throughout the season but able to pick out a pass from anywhere on the pitch.

 

Eriksen has played wherever needed this season; left, right, central and even deep, sometimes all in the same game.

Whether this season’s consistency has come from within his own growth – mental, physical or technical – or whether this is simply a case of the team around him providing him with a more consistent platform of time on the ball and making the right movements around him is a matter of debate. The latter somewhat calls into question the very nature of individual awards.

 

Jan Vertonghen

The senior members’ pick too, has demonstrated a special consistency but this is less positional, and more about the various phases of the play. Vertonghen has trotted out an unwavering defensive solidity but combined this with line-breaking forwarded passes, mazy, one-footed, runs with the ball and aggressive switches of the play.

Again, stylistically, this is nothing new from the Belgian but taken to new levels this year. Perhaps this was a vote of relief for the One Hotspur members who have seen it all. This season they witnessed Jan shining in the absence of his countryman Toby Aldweireld.

Alderweireld asserted himself as the best defender in the Premier League over the last two season before missing the vast majority of 2017/18, at first through injury, and what now seems fairly clear to have been extended due to contractual disputes.

To have Vertonghen immediately step up and fill his place, and in turn new boy Davinson Sanchez turn in a highly impressive debut season, has provided an immediate and easy solution to what could have been a quite catastrophic problem.


So who wins?

For my two cents, I think oldies’ favourite Jan Vertonghen just edges it, but to leave Christian Eriksen un-celebrated would be an injustice of it’s own. On balance an even divide of individual awards between the two ex-Ajax stars probably captures the mood on a very close call.