Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Midfield Missing

Central midfield has not stopped being the overarching theme all season and the most recent games are no exception. Last time we checked in things were looking up with Mousa Dembele and also Harry Winks finding fitness at the same time. This was shortly followed by both defensive midfielders, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, becoming injured and then Mousa Dembele going down in some pain during the opening two minutes against Wolves.

All this combined to lead Pochettino starting a midfield duo of Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen against PSV midweek, a midfield thinness not seen since Tim Sherwood infamously played Nacer Chadli in the role.

Often, when mentality is discussed, and it is discussed often, it’s perceived as a singular aspect. “He was mentally strong”, “He was mentally weak”, “They had a winning mentality”, “They had a losing mentality”. Tuesday night’s victory over PSV seemed to showcase some of the complexity and nuance around the psychological side of the game. Read More

Wolves vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Wolves vs Tottenham Preview: Portuguese Pressure

The story of Tottenham’s season so far has been finding good results despite poor performances. Recent games against PSV and Man City have been a full reversal of that trend with the club’s two most promising displays of football so far this year returning a single point.

Whether Spurs fans choose to view that as positive or negative probably comes down to individual mindsets but at the very least there’s a case for optimism to be found in Dembele once again appearing fit, as Spurs near the middle period of the season. Read More

PSV Eindhoven vs Tottenham Hotspur Champions League Preview

PSV Eindhoven vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Containing Chucky

In Tottenham’s first two games of the season Pochettino fielded a creative but lightweight midfield. In the opening 45 minutes Spurs created enough chances to gain a lead and in the second half the opposition realised they should take advantage of Spurs’ somewhat soft midfield and press back. On both occasions Pochettino brought Mousa Dembele off the bench to calm the game down and see out the win.

Saturday’s victory over West Ham was much the same affair, only with Harry Winks and Mousa Sissoko in place of Eriksen and Dele to form the initial midfield trio with Eric Dier. Read More

Tottenham vs Barcelona Champions League Preview

Tottenham vs Barcelona Preview: Whose Ball Is It Anyway?

David Wagner dominated the tactics board on Saturday with his Huddersfield side pressing Tottenham Hotspur into a mess. They limited Eric Dier to a poor performance with 78% pass success rate and Paulo Gazzaniga just 52%.

But it mattered for nothing as Spurs’ individual supremacy shone in the transitional and improvisational moments, giving Tottenham a misleadingly comfortable 2-0 scoreline.

The chance for Tottenham to test their talents against Barcelona is an exciting challenge. The two teams haven’t met in senior competition for decades, but it’s coming at the wrong time for the north Londoners.

Issues in midfield remain unresolved after an event-less transfer window. Post-World-Cup fatigue is hurting a team with no less than nine players in the semi-finals. Spurs are suffering a slow start to the season. Now, just in time, an injury crisis has set in. Dele, Aurier, Eriksen, Lloris, Vertonghen and Dembele are all doubts. Read More

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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