Fresh Spurs | Fresh Spurs - Part 20

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Player Ratings: Spurs 1-0 Crystal Palace

Tottenham made it three wins in three in all competitions ahead of the North London derby with Arsenal in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. A solitary goal from Heung-Min Son was enough to see off Crystal Palace and here are our player ratings.

Lloris (4.5/5)- Composed, confident, and didn’t put a foot wrong. Made a good stop from a Sako free kick before denying Sako superbly in a key second half period. His fingertip stop would prove to be vital as we scored mere minutes later. Truly one of the best around.

Walker (3.5/5)- Did his job in defence and never really looked troubled. Dealt comfortably with Zaha but was lucky to get away with giving the ball away which eventually led to Palace hitting the post

Alderweireld (4/5)- Himself and Jan look to be building an incredibly strong partnership at the back. Confident on the ball, hitting some superb diagonals, and dealt with whatever was thrown at him with ease.

Vertonghen (4/5)- Barely put a foot wrong. One marauding run forward summed up his confidence and with Toby alongside him, he finally looks to be returning to the form we saw in his first season at the club.

Davies (3.5/5)- Good on the ball and untroubled. Kept his place above Rose who was poor midweek and was unlucky to see what would have been his first goal for the club ruled out for offside.

Dier (4/5)- Pochettino appears to have pulled of a master stroke with Dier’s positional change. Dealt with Puncheon with ease and provided exceptional defensive cover.

Alli (4/5)- Looks like he’s been playing in the Premier League for years. Always looking for the ball and always looking to do something positive with it. Has dealt with the step up with ease. He and Dier won the midfield battle with Cabaye and McArthur.

Lamela (3.5/5)- Justified his start. Tested the goalkeeper several times with a decent shot in the first half and a well struck free kick in the second. Some lapses in concentration but he was superb in the build up to the goal, outmuscling Cabaye with ease on the edge of our box and setting Eriksen away.

Son (4.5/5)- Has made a superb start to life in North London. Followed up his European double in midweek with the winning goal in the 68th minute. Was energetic and dangerous all day long , running himself into the ground for his new team. Deserved his ovation

Chadli (3/5)- Better than last week from the Belgian. Some good moments on the ball and some good passes to set up chances for others.

Kane (3/5)- You get the sense that he’s trying to hard. Needs to go back to acting on instinct and the goals will come flowing back. Missed a presentable first half header but as always worked hard.

Substitutes

Eriksen (4/5)- Oh how we’ve missed him. Provided the immediate assist within minutes of coming on and added a new level of class to the attack. He and Son in the same team is a very dangerous proposition indeed.

N’jie (N/A)- Got a ten minute run out and buzzed around without much impact.

Player Ratings: Sunderland 0-1 Spurs

Finally Tottenham can celebrate their first win of the season just over a month since the season began. A late, but great Ryan Mason goal gave us a much-needed win after a loss and three draws. Here are the player ratings.

Hugo Lloris (3.5/5)- Massively untroubled. Dealt with whatever came his way and kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

Kyle Walker (3.5/5)- Had a battle on his hands vs Lens at times but held his own and grew into the game as an attacking force.

Jan Vertonghen (4/5)- Incredibly solid. Despite picking up a yellow card he was commanding and kept his cool well when Lens broke through in the second half.

Toby Alderwiereld (3/5)-Not quite as impressive as his centre back partner. Never looked comfortable dealing with an incredible lively Defoe.

Ben Davies (3.5/5)- As we usually see from the Welshman, solid and dependable on the ball but not a massive attacking threat. The pace of Rose is missed.

Eric Dier (4.5)- Superb performance from the man who’s had a great week, having signed a new contract in the week. Passed the ball well and was convincing and impressive in his tackling. Growing into the CDM role.

Ryan Mason (4/5)- Also very impressive. Played some incisive passes and worked hard. Superb finish for our much needed winning goal, chipping the ball delicately into the net.

Nacer Chadli (1.5/5)- Quite simply a terrible performance from the Belgian. Invisible in the first half and when he did get involved, it certainly wasn’t positive, as he blazed several chances from good positions over. Needs to up his performance level.

Dele Alli (3.5/5)- Started the game off with a neat nutmeg which is becoming something of a trait. Good on the ball and put himself about. A solid performance on his first ever premier league start.

Son (3/5)- Some neat touches and decent set piece delivery, but on the whole is was a quiet afternoon for our new man. Much more to come from him.

Harry Kane (2/5)- A real struggle for last seasons main man. His touch was poor along with his dribbling, and his mishit of a decent second half chance summed his afternoon up. Needs a goal in a spurs shirt sooner rather than later.

Subs

Andros Townsend (4/5)- Changed the game, injecting pace and energy into our attack. Found joy on the right flank as he raced past his marker time and again.

Erik Lamela (4/5)- The Argentine needed this. Added some urgency to a lacklustre attack and played the incisive through ball for our winner. With many close to giving up on him, he took his chance today. But he still needs to do so much more.

Tottenham’s Slow Start Could Cost Them In The Race For European Football

Three draws and a loss in Tottenham’s opening four fixtures leaves them languishing a fair distance from where a club of Tottenham’s size should be. A disappointing start to say the least. But all teams have bad starts to campaigns every so often, right? Yes, of course, take Chelsea this year for example. However, it was more important than you may think that the Lilywhites got their season off to the best of possible starts.

Now we have endured the mildly boring first international break of the season, Spurs return to action on Sunday against Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light. They will be travelling to Wearside with high hopes of coming home with three points, and their first win of the season.

However, although we can only focus on the next game which is at Sunderland, you cant help but look further into September at our fixture list, and take a guess at what campaign begins? Yes, the Europa League!

The annual tournament has brought Spurs nothing but bad luck, and although we have picked up the wins required to progress through the knockout stage, Europe’s secondary competition has had an awful effect on our form in the Premier League.

Games against Crystal Palace (H), Swansea (A), Bournemouth (A), Arsenal (A), Chelsea (H) and Swansea (A) all proceed Europa League group games, and a couple that jump out at you are Arsenal away and Chelsea at home, teams that we need to be challenging if we want to achieve our ultimate goal, a finish in the top four, although I am unconvinced from our showings so far that we anywhere near close to making it.

The loss to Manchester United on the opening day was an easy one to accept, and I was still feeling relatively positive after the opening day defeat. However, the 2-2 draw against Stoke was a bitter pill to swallow, and a match that we should be closing out and winning after taking a 2-0 lead.

The draw away at the King Power Stadium was also a little hard to take after conceding an equaliser barely a minute after Dele Alli’s first Premier League goal. And as for the game against Everton, it was a little frustrating to watch, another point on the board.

Due to the Europa League’s effect on Premier League form, it was crucial that Mauricio Pochettino’s men made a solid start to the new season, and three points from four games is hardly the perfect start.

Can Tottenham beat Sunderland on Sunday and go on to beat the curse of the Europa League?

Early Season Woes And Transfer Window Analysis

Four games into the Barclays Premier League season and Tottenham Hotspur are yet to record a win. The transfer window has closed and Spurs are going to have to make do with what they’ve got until at least January. The two key questions at this point are ‘What hasn’t quite clicked for Tottenham so far?’ and ‘Have they done enough in the transfer window to fix that?’

Spurs may not have won a game as yet but they are unbeaten in 3, having not lost since the opening day away to Manchester United. The problem identified by most it seems, has been the ability to manage a game, and to be able see it out when in a strong position. The signs of this problem were present on the opening day. Having dominated the opening 20 minutes, Spurs were unfortunate to concede to a Kyle Walker own goal.

However, after that, Spurs went into their shell and never looked threatening again at all until the final 5 minutes of the game (although we did defend very well and United also didn’t look particularly dangerous). The second half was a drab affair but fans were waiting for Spurs to truly commit men forward and search hard for an equaliser. By the time it did happen there wasn’t enough time left. 10-15 minutes earlier and the result may have been different. However this game was by no means a horror showing, and it was the next game to truly reveal Spurs seeming inability to manage the opposition.

Spurs once again started well but this time had a reward for it, with the Lilywhites 2-0 up at home to Stoke. We looked exceedingly comfortable until the final 15 minutes , when one goal from the penalty spot was all that was needed for Spurs to capitulate and end up drawing the game. For a club supposedly challenging for the Champions League to be 2-0 up at home with 15 minutes to go against a ‘lesser side’ to draw was not deemed acceptable. Spurs had demonstrated a soft underbelly. All the hard work of the previous 75 minutes was undone, and fans were disappointed we weren’t off the mark for the season. Any questions that were raised from this result were only reinforced in their relevance when after going 1-0 up away to Leicester City, Spurs conceded seconds after kick off.

Once again we had shown a lack of concentration and were punished for it. In regards to our last game against Everton, we were simply unlucky not to score thanks to some fine Tim Howard goalkeeping. However the team undoubtedly needs to be better in these situations. It’s no secret that this is young developing Tottenham side, a mirror image of its manager, and that we may have to accept some lapses, naivety and just plain bad luck at times. However if it continues to happen, it will pose the question as if to if there is a serious mentality problem within the minds of the players. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.

In terms of issues with the team and whether the club has done enough to rectify them, it’s a mixed bag. Defensively Spurs are seemingly much stronger, Toby and Jan at the back has all the signs of a promising partnership. Both have been guilty of lapses in the opening four games but I am sure they will only get better and Toby will prove to be a great signing. Other aspects of our play that have been criticised in the opening games has been a lack of pace and dynamism in the attacking areas, but I think it is fair to say this is also an issue that has seemingly been addressed.

Clinton N’jie is a raw but pacy youngster who will be a thorn in any oppositions side but the signing that has everyone excited is that of Heung-Min Son. A proven goal scoring winger at the top level, with pace, trickery and versatility, Son has all the makings of a true difference maker in the final third. Despite the this, the window certainly didn’t see all problems addressed.

A Defensive midfield player was expected to come in to bulk up the position after several departures, however despite efforts to capture Axel Witsel and Victor Wanyama, nothing materialised for Spurs. Will this be a problem as the season goes on? Is Dier good enough to play the role? Time will tell. However the glaring problem is lack of options up front. It is genuinely staggering Daniel Levy was not able to sign a single striker to assist Harry Kane.

It’s well documented how we made at least three bids for Saido Berahino, with the player himself going to Twitter to seemingly express his desire for the move to happen. A move for Alexander Pato was touted but never happened on deadline day. The reality is that Spurs have only one striker for four cup competitions, with Emmanuel Adebayor frozen out from the squad. If Harry Kane is to pick up a serious injury, the versatility of N’jie and Son may not be enough. Kane’s fitness could truly make or break Tottenham’s season, and unfortunately for Harry, the pressure now is truly on him for perform. The summer window has provided plenty of answers, but not without raising a fair few  questions.

Transfer Review: What If Harry Kane Were To Pull A Hamstring?

Deadline day came and went on Tuesday in a flurry of lurid yellow ties, desperate negotiations and angry tweets from Spurs fans and West Brom players alike.

Like most fans, I went through the seven stages of grief – well, at least anger, denial and bargaining – at 6pm. The day after, I’m now into acceptance. The squad is what it is, nothing can be done about it now.

On balance, I’d say Spurs achieved about half of what we needed to do this summer. We got rid of most of the deadwood, but are stuck with Emmanuel Adebayor and, less problematically, Federico Fazio. We moved quickly to shore up the defence with signings of Toby Alderweireld, Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer, and added new attacking options in Son Heung-min and Clinton N’Jie. We also kept Hugo Lloris. But, the club failed to bring in the experienced central midfielder the callow squad surely needed, and no second striker arrived to support Harry Kane.

The central midfield question I’ll leave for another day, but the failure to sign a striker was at the heart of many a Twitter meltdown.

The Saido Berahino debacle was puzzling. In what was an insane market for strikers – where inflationary pressures of all the TV money sloshing around combined with a shortage in quality front men – £25m seemed a reasonable amount of money to spend on a young striker who has already shown he can score Premier League goals in a team that creates few chances. Us fans will be left to draw our own conclusions about what the failure to meet this price says about Daniel Levy’s strategy, nerve, or the club’s financial state.

The big fear Spurs fans will have, as we enter the dog days of long Europa League trips and early Sunday kick-offs, is that something happens to Harry Kane. Let’s say he suffers an injury on England duty this fortnight, what do Spurs then do up front? Mauricio Pochettino will dutifully say he is happy with his attacking options. But what are they? Let’s have a look at them.

First of all, about Poch’s system. When Southampton played their best under the Argentine in 2013-2014 season they didn’t actually score that many goals. Rickie Lambert had 13 in 37 League matches. Jay Rodriguez had 15 in 33. Adam Lallana had 9 in 38. No one else chipped in significantly. I loved watching the Saints that season, but it wasn’t because they were running up the goals or were particularly thrilling. They were just an ultra-efficient, fast, well-drilled, hard-working team that knew how to get ahead and stay ahead.

They key to the attacking system was that Rickie Lambert intelligently created space and worked defenders, leaving room for Lallana to operate and creating opportunities for Rodriguez to get in behind. Kane, Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen basically replicated that last season. The striker in Poch’s system is as much as anything a worker – moving intelligently, holding up the ball and drawing defenders. He is expected to share the goalscoring burden, not shoulder it alone. Pochettino never had
to cope with a Lambert injury, so we are slightly in the dark as to his thinking.

So what are the options?

Son Heung-Min: Our new Korean is presumably the first option should Kane go down. I was under the impression that he plays mostly off the front man in very much the Rodriguez mold, and was as much an upgrade on the left over Chadli. But, he has played up front before, and he is actually quite similar to Kane physically – over 6ft and strong, with more pace. The drama over his position on the club’s website suggests someone at Hotspur Way sees him as a striker. Presumably at this stage, Son is the
official “Plan B”.

Clinton N’Jie: The man of mystery. Stuck behind Alexandre Lacazette at Lyon, most of his minutes came out wide. But for Cameroon, he has played up front, and the Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas (no doubt eyeing a future sale) made the comparison with Samuel Eto’o. A totally different player from Kane, from what little we know about N’Jie he is someone who carries the ball and arrives in the box at pace, not someone who plays across the line or with his back to goal. But frankly, we await eagerly
to see what he is like once he emerges from Poch’s lab.

Nacer Chadli: Played up front on some of our pre-season adventures. Chadli is big, strong and quick – one of those guys who manages to look like he has everything, score a ton of goals, but still feel a bit uninvolved and disappointing. He failed conspicuously to hold the ball up against Stoke when Harry Kane went off, and Spurs paid a heavy price. I really don’t like this option, or the fact that it appears to be so high up the list.

Mousa Dembele: The Belgian enigma has been a bit of an obsession of mine of late. Not because I am waiting to see if, age 28, he suddenly breaks out and becomes that world-class midfielder we’ve been waiting to emerge, but because I think he could be a sneaky answer to the forward conundrum. Dembele has dropped deeper through his career, but he was signed by Fulham as a forward player. What Dembele brings is movement across the line, ability to draw defenders into contact, and the strength and technique to hold the ball. What drives us nuts about him is his refusal to shoot from range, pass forward or make runs from deep – none of which would matter if he was playing as a striker in Poch’s system. I just don’t think this is as crazy as it sounds – call him a False Nine and suddenly we’ve got all sorts of hipster potential.

Erik Lamela: This may get floated about, as much out of desperation to find a role for him as anything. But I wouldn’t risk it as Lamela gives the ball away too much.

Emmanuel Adebayor: Is it possible to feel sympathy and anger at someone? Someone who refuses to move unless he gets his contract paid in full and then can sign a new one on top is shameless. Someone who refuses to move because they are waiting for a sign from God and a word from their pastor is in need of help. I don’t think we can talk about Adebayor as a footballer any more. Judging by the reports of his personal situation, he sounds in a very troubled place and needs help. I feel, even after all the money he has been paid and the anguish he has caused, the club still has a duty of care to him and should take whatever steps it can to get him out of the clutches of whatever quacks or shamans or liggers he is in hock to. There could be serious mental health issues in play at this point, if this talk about him requiring signs from God in professional decision making are accurate. This is a sad situation for anyone. Not the belief in god of course, but the fact that he appears to have lost control of himself. Even for a rich footballer this is sad.

In summary, the options aren’t great and if Kane does pull a hamstring we have problems. Surely, Berahino would have been a great addition both as an alternative to Kane, an impact player off the bench, or an alternative playing in the Rodriguez role. But nevertheless, there are options, and I have confidence that Poch is a smart enough coach to muddle through.

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Yet Another Last Minute Transfer Window Panic For Tottenham Hotspur

Here we are again. It’s just one week before the summer transfer window slams shut, and many fans feel that we have done nowhere near enough business to make a genuine push for the top four this season, or even just secure fifth place.

It is the same old story at Tottenham this summer, we are three games into the new Premier League season, and yet again, Daniel Levy is going to leave it until the last minute to get his business done, if he gets any business done at all.

I have always believed that you must get most of your summer business done before the new league campaign starts, and this is something that we haven’t done in previous years. The reason for this is so that players can bed into the squad without a rush so that they have pre-season to get used to his new teammates and new coach/manager.

This year this was the case for Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld. All good players and brought at the right time, but nowhere near what we should be buying this summer. In my opinion, we needed to buy an additional striker and perhaps an additional holding midfielder.

Neither of these came before the season’s start, and we are now three games in, and they still haven’t come in, apart from Clinton N’Jie who may be played on the right. It is clear that Daniel Levy is looking for a much lower price for the players he is targeting, so holding out as long as he can, but the risks associated are maybe unnecessary.

Buying players midway through the season doesn’t give them that bedding in time in pre-season to gel with their new teammates, and this could be what determines whether a player is a success or a flop at a certain club. So I ask the question, is it worth paying that extra perhaps £5m to give a player that pre-season time, or is it worth saving £5m, and taking the risk.

In my opinion, Daniel Levy will need to get his business done before the season starts in the future, but for now, we are left with another Tottenham transfer window panic.

Why Spurs Should Stick With Erik Lamela For One More Season

Tottenham fans on Twitter have suggested that they want Erik Lamela through that White Hart Lane exit door as soon as possible after his first few performances of the season.

This will be Lamela’s third season at Tottenham Hotspur since his record move to North London for £30m from Roma in 2013, and hasn’t lived up to his price tag in the first two seasons.

However, his first season development was hindered by injury, that kept him out for long periods of time in the 2013/14 season, effectively making the 2014/15 season his first proper campaign.

Lamela certainly developed as a player last season, and his performances improved noticeably in his first season without long-term injury and under Mauricio Pochettino. We compared his stats PER GAME in the 2013/14 season to his stats in certain areas.

Stat: 13/14 season/ 14/15 season

Successful Passes: 15.89/28.21
Pass Completion: 80%/83%
Key Passes: 0.56/1.61
Chances Created: 0.67/1.82
Tackles Won: 0.89/1.97
Tackles Lost: 2.11/2.21
Assists (Whole Season): 1/7

As you can see there, Lamela’s performances and stats have improved dramatically from one season to the next, but you then ask the question, how do these stats compare to the best midfielders at our club? Well, in fact they compare quite well to left winger Nacer Chadli, who was probably the third or fourth best player on the pitch for Tottenham last campaign. Here are their stats per game.

Stat: Erik Lamela 14/15/ Nacer Chadli 14/15

Successful Passes: 28.21/25.37
Pass Completion: 83%/83%
Key Passes: 1.61/1.03
Chances Created: 1.82/1.17
Tackles Won: 1.97/0.66
Tackles Lost: 2.21/0.71
Assists (Whole Season): 7/5

As you can see from the stats above that Lamela has outperformed Nacer Chadli in most of those areas, and one thing you could say it that the Argentine could be a little stronger going into tackles, and that is all. The only thing that the Belgian runs away with is his goals tally, Chadli scoring 11 league goals compared to Lamela’s two.

I have mentioned before that Lamela’s first season at Spurs was somewhat injury hit, with the winger being out for the majority of the season after Christmas with a back injury, so discounting that season, the 14/15 campaign was his first real chance to adapt to Premier League football. Now he has a second full season ahead of him, and he should excel more.

Should Tottenham keep Lamela for at least one more season? Yes, I think they should.

FOUR Clubs Interested In Spurs Winger

Four Premier League clubs are set to battle it out for Tottenham winger Andros Townsend, who has fallen out of favour under Argentine boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Sunderland, Aston Villa and Newcastle are set to be joined by West Ham in the race for the England international who started just ten league games last season for Spurs.

The Daily Star believe that West Ham have now joined the race for Townsend, and they also report that the Lilywhites are wanting to sell up for £15m, and with that many clubs interested, they are sure to be holding out for the full asking price.

Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy have been working hard throughout the summer shifting some of the deadweight, including midfielders Paulinho, Benjamin Stambouli and Etienne Capoue.

The Argentine boss has left Andros Townsend out so far this season with the Englishman unused this campaign, will this summer see the end of Townsend’s career at Tottenham?

Pochettino Still Targeting Another Striker This Summer

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that he is still looking for another striker to sign before the deadline of the summer transfer window.

On the morning before kick-off against Stoke- Spurs’ first home game of the season- the North London club announced the capture of former Lyon star Clinton N’Jie, their fourth signing of the summer alongside Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld.

You may think that this could be the last of Tottenham’s business in this window, with a forward now on-board, something Pochettino has been striving to do throughout the summer.

However, the Argentine boss has said that Spurs are still looking to sign another striker before the summer is out.

Pochettino also stated that Kane lacked fitness for the game against Stoke, leading to his substitution part way through the 2-2 draw with The Potters, and the Lilywhites now seem to lack options up top with Emmanuel Adebayor out of the frame, Roberto Soldado sold to Villarreal and Harry Kane lacking fitness.

Clinton N’Jie may seem like the answer, but Pochettino has said that the Cameroon international is comfortable playing out wide, so may require another striker.

“N’Jie can play in different positions. Centrally? He can play there but I think we need another centre forward,”

“We need to add some more players to the squad but don’t worry, I think today we deserved to win – it wasn’t a problem about the strikers.”

Spurs Set To Offload Defensive Misfit

The Daily Mail report that Tottenham are keen on offloading centre-back Federico Fazio, just one year after he made his switch to North London from Sevilla.

Fazio signed for Spurs in August last year, and he has failed to make a huge impression on the first team following a couple of red cards in his first few months at the club.

The Argentine wasn’t included in the matchday squad in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on the opening day, The Mail now claiming that Spurs will listen to offers for the defender, with Lyon and West Brom interested in the 28-year-old.

It now seems that Fazio is no longer needed at White Hart Lane following the arrival of Kevin Wimmer and Toby Alderweireld in this summer transfer window adding to the existing Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier at the heart of the Spurs defence.

Fazio appeared 31 times for Spurs last season, and wherever he moves, he will surely be looking for regular league action, which he currently isn’t getting at Tottenham.