Tottenham 4 – 0 Crystal Palace 14th September 2019

Here comes the Son, 2 goals in a blistering first half for both him and the team. What we need to do consistently is start fast. Put teams on the back foot before they get a goal and park the bus. A great game to watch from a Spurs point of view. We got early goals, mostly controlled the match and got a clean sheet. Very important the goals and the clean sheet, for different reasons. The goals came from different sources than other games so far this season, in the goal scorers and the assisters. We had a Serging right back, a defence splitting, centre back passer and our Talisman all providing by putting it on a plate for Son twice and Lamela.

Beautiful Belgians

Finally we have our best pairing at central defence starting 2 games in a row. Quite clearly the impact this had is a huge one. Their styles both complement each other so well. In this game Jan played like he normally does, stepping out into the midfield areas. Our quarterback Toby was allowed to spray passes out from the back, creating the 1st for Son. They also read each other’s game well, having played at Ajax and the national team together. Even if they think their best position was both as full backs for a time. Much happier with the beautiful Belgians in the team.

Options

 

Last week I was bemoaning our lack of depth at right back, wishing we had signed Atal or Aarons in the summer and contemplating how Sissoko “could” work in that position. Now we have a fit and firing Aurier and KWP to come back. We have two fully fit left backs for more competition, expect them to start sharing game time more than they have done so far.

We brought Ndomebele on, as he was not fully fit to play the 90 minutes. Such a boost to bring on a player who has had an instant impact on our team on how we get up the pitch. Sessegnon has yet to make his debut, lord knows what Poch can do with him and what position he will actually play in.

Son is starting and we have Lucas to bring on when teams are tired or we need something different. Lo Celso should be back in October sometime, he could be thrust in or brought in slowly to make sure he is up to speed for the busy winter schedule.

Exciting times could be ahead for Spurs.

Rotation

There is no doubt about it, as with any team in the Champions league, it’s going to happen. We have competition now, in most spots to rotate the squad. It’s just who and when. Kane should be safe in the league, maybe Lucas and Son can cover in the cup competitions in some lesser games. Son should be starting 90% of our games due to his unique skillset. The full backs and maybe right sided centre back are more concern for me. Jan should be safe as Davies is the only cover we have there. Eriksen should also be safe, as he is our only real number 10. The other central spots could come from, Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko, Lo Celso, Alli, Dier and young Skipp.

Hairy times for our Brazilian

We are a much better and much different team with Son in the side and Lucas on the bench. As I wrote about in my Arsenal Piece:

On the left, Son was the main threat in his natural position in this set up. The Korean kept swapping with Eriksen to change to a 4-4-2 on the fly.  He moved inside with pace and purpose and did what we have been crying out for in some games. Which was running beyond Kane. Now note I said Running Beyond. Not taking up that position beyond Kane for more time than Kane does. But being intelligent enough to see when Kane needs the support and when to stick to his wing.

This all still holds true, the dynamic with those around, his actual ability and skillset work wonders for the team. Brings the free-flowing football we used to have and enjoy closer when he is on the pitch. He will frustrate in some matches but when he bangs, he bangs.

I do like some of Lucas’ traits but I much more enjoy him coming on to run at tired defenders and unsettle them. If we had an interchangeable front 3 like Liverpool and it was Son, Kane and Lucas, then great I wouldn’t mind that. But that is not how we play, and I think Lucas without a Son does not work as Eriksen gets dragged out left, Kane fills in for Eriksen, so on and so on. Then you are left with Lucas in the box, not 100% a bad thing but not what we need.

Kane and Son dynamic

 

Kane and Son always seem to enjoy playing together. It shows when they are on the pitch. They worked in tandem as a duo in this match, Son playing more advanced. With Kane playing more a support striking role. As I mention in the Players section, it did impact Kane’s numbers. But this could have easily been roles reversed in a different match.

We rarely play 2 up top, and my feeling is that if we had not got the early goals, Son would have played like the last Premier league game. In his usual wide left, drifting in position. I cannot predict the line-ups or have any ITK but It does not concern me if Son and Kane play together, quite the opposite. They interchange positions, watch for each-others runs and link up well in the final third. They do dovetail really well, and the years of understanding with those two and Eriksen (Alli when fit) is a joy to watch.

Tactics

4-2-2-2

Poch set up in what seemed to be a variation of a 4-4-2. With a few subtle in-play tweaks. Hugo was in goal and again had a good game making 6 saves. The beautiful Belgian duo were back where they belong back together as they were in the NLD. Rose played left back and the returning Aurier played at right back.

Electric Serge

Again, it would be a week where we are talking about a Spurs right back. This time for the correct reasons. I have doubted Aurier, his in-game management, overall positioning and lack of concentration sometimes. But no doubt as I thought when he signed, he does have the ability and physical attributes you would like as a starting right back.

We have changed systems so much since Poch’s famed bombing fullbacks in his second season. When these were as much as an outlet as Kane and Alli were. But we still need something attacking and with Rose on the left and Aurier on the right it could suit. I love KWP but wonder if his lack of exposure to first team football could have harmed his development. He is not 20 anymore and maybe the competition with Serge can push him to be our undisputed Number 1.  From no fullbacks last week to maybe 2 vying for the place.

No pressure

Next up is midfield, we again have the duo of Winks and Sissoko. Now Sissoko played well as he does with no real pressure. He was key at breaking up play and getting the ball moved on to our more creative players. Winks probably had his most advanced game for us in a while. He was given the time and space to move further up the pitch. He managed a shot right from the 2nd half KO and had 3 more off target. Attacking from Winks as Palace invited on the pressure.

In the attacking midfield places we again had Lamela, who has started all 5 league games so far. So nice to see for the Argentine. Who seems to have put personal and injury problems behind him to become a trusted player in this squad. He did a little bit of everything during the game, helped by the lack of pressing but Palace. Very impressed in a very efficient 90 minutes.

Eriksen was fairly quiet due to most of the game being played out wide. Palace seemed to let us have the width, strange when they had five natural wide players on the pitch. He was still very much active in the final third but often played the pass before the pass. He moved into space and his awareness meant he was constantly out manoeuvring away from the oppositions gaze. Sometimes he does as much damage when he is silent.

Son-shine

 

Up front we started with a 2, but due to our early blitz they actually stayed as a 2. As they had no need to chase the game and could just keep the opposition’s defenders occupied. Kane had a decent game in regards to he played the perfect foil to Son’s game. He kept drawing the attention of the Palace defenders which allowed Son to create havoc. He did not drop as deep as previous games, mostly due to the lack of pressure that was put upon the Spurs midfield and the fact we got 3 early goals.

Son starts, and he plays well, in fact we played well. We looked really good going forward, more fluidity. As i said in my first article here and throughout the first 4 games, Son needs to start. He runs at defenders, he runs beyond. In turn this commits more of the opposition due to the fact he can go inside and out. Such a clever and explosive player. I think this will be the starts of his usual extended purple patch.

Stats

Metric Spurs Palace
Touches 404 254
Passes 311 166
Shots 8 5
Saves 2 1
Interceptions
5 11

These are the stats for the first half. As you can see and would probably expect we had more touches and more passes. Also, slightly more shots including the goals we scored. Palace did threaten and Lloris made 2 saves in the first half which were comfy for a keeper of his calibre. Overall as comfy a first half as you are likely to see.

Metric Spurs Palace
Touches 427 284
Passes 328 192
Shots 5 7
Saves 4 1
Blocks
6 4

These are the second half stats. More Touches and passes, that did not let up but our tempo did. We conserved energy in preparation for our midweek Champions League game. Rightly so, with the game over in the first 45 this was sensible in game management by the team. However, our clean sheet could have disappeared as we let them gain more of a foothold. This resulted in more shots and Spurs having to do more defensive work.

A little shorter tactics piece this week as we did not change during the game. Apart from letting them gain more possession and come onto us as we let the foot of the gas. We mostly played in the 4-2-2-2 all game. We brought on Ndomeble for Winks, who again had a very good game. Underrated is not the word for our other Harry. Hopefully Winks and Ndombele will be our middle 2 for the majority of the season. Rose off for Davies later, as we have a run of games coming up and then a late switch with Kane off and Lucas on.

Players

Aurier – 4.9m

What a game from our Ivorian right back. He showed what I expected from him when he signed from PSG. Questionable non-footballing decisions but an athletic all action right back. The Walker replacement we had wanted. He did show glimpses last year, but it was often his decisions inside his own half that left a lot frustrated and his fellow defenders panicking.

In this game we had a real attacking outlet even though Palace has essentially Townsend, Schlupp and PVA on that side they could not contain him. He was involved at the beginning of the beautiful move for Son’s 2nd goal. Where it started at Lloris, Aurier headed it on and then ended up crossing in a delicious ball for the assist.

Forcing the OG from PVA as well, he was just a menace up and down that flank. Managing 3 interceptions and 1 clearance in doing his defensive duties also. The question is who is the number 1 right back, I can see myself getting that question the most in the coming weeks. Truth is, we probably do not have one. We have 3 competitions before Christmas to compete in, so we will need both hands on deck. They both have a different set of core attributes with KWP being more conservative and steadier. Picking his time to move forward more cautiously. Aurier on the other hand is a little more erratic and explosive which is sometimes heart attack material.

Lamela – 6m

Is this the season that Lamela gets back to being a first team regular? I originally dismissed him as just having a good Pre-season and Eriksen being out of favour. But he seems to be doing a good job of making him the go-to Poch guy at the minute. With his willingness to play where ever needed in whatever system. During the match he drfited in from his starting right position. Mostly to the left, as Son was taking up the most forward attacking role. He was able to drift in and take his goal well.

Along with the goal he managed 87% pass accuracy have 64 touches and complete 50% of his long balls and crosses. He kept probing away and gave the defence something to think about. It was his lovely control, touch and sprint away before releasing it to winks with an outside of the boot pass that was key for Son’s 2nd goal. He is sometimes great in those counter attacking situations, just not when he has lots of time to think about his decisions. I Hope he can keep this up, he deserves another shot after coming back time and time again.

Kane – 11m

Big headline from Kane, Shots off target 1, Shots on target 0. Am I worried, in short no. Kane is still subjected to, as I hinted last week to a kind of double standard. His job is to score goals, when he does its boring and it is all he does. When he doesn’t, he plays to deep and adds nothing to the team.

He didn’t drop as deep as previous games, due to not really needing to force the game. But he linked up play, created space and this allowed Son to have the impact he did. He accurately completed 3 out of 5 long balls and crosses combined. Kane also completed 5 out of his 8 attempted aerial and ground duels. All action game, apart from the currency he is judged by. If Kane plays like this for 50% of his games, but it allows others to flourish so why would you not be happy.

Son – 9.5

Red hot Son, a performance that backs up his inclusion to be one of the first names on our team sheet. He is unlike anything we have in the squad. The way he runs at players with the ball, makes great runs in behind. How he can go inside or outside, use either foot too. 

His 2 goals were so different but equally brilliant. The first goal he showed great technique in taking a long ball from our QB and then the footwork in shifting it onto his favoured left boot. Bullet of a second goal, after a wonderful flowing move starting at Hugo, he connected superbly with Aurier’s cross. He ran at the defence all game long, and gave them problems galore.

He had 3 shots on target in total, nearly scoring from a very tight angle with his other shot on target. Successfully completing his only dribble, with 80% pass accuracy and 46 touches. He pressed from the front winning 1 of his 2 attempted tackles and won possession 3 out of his 5 attempts. All action dynamite performance from the Smiling Assassin.

Conclusions

If this is how we start the next few matches I can only see Spurs scoring goal after goal. With the counter attacking system I mentioned last week in place with Son in the team, it suits us much better. We have the players that have the touch, pass and speed of thought to put the fast breaks in motion. Clinical finishers in Son and Kane and hopefully some defensive stability once again.

Tottenham cannot afford to start slowly, as we have seen once a team gets a goal they can just sit back as we only have one truly creative outlet in the team. But if we get at teams, force them to make mistakes and then counter like we have done previously the goals and wins will come.

We usually start the actual season slowly, build up fitness and preparation. Then come October through to January is when you see us at our best, fast flowing, fluid attacking play for 90 mins, against any team. Beautiful to watch, horrible to play against. We looked yesterday, as if we are starting to get this going already. Which is good news for any Spurs fan.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and we will meet again on Thursday with my shorter Champions League report.

 

COYS

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