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Player Ratings: Bournemouth 1-1 Spurs

Despite going 1-0 behind less than a minute into the match, Spurs were still able to put on a show for the travelling fans that made the trip to Bournemouth. Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick in an impressive 5-1 win. Here are our player ratings.

Hugo Lloris (3.5/5)- Had a nervy moment in the first half but got away with it under pressure. Delt with whatever came his way comfortably.

Kyle Walker- (4/5)- Good, solid performance. Defended well and finally looks to be upping his game to a consistently high level.

Toby Alderweireld (4/5)- One of the best signings we’ve made in recent years. Composed as ever and led the defence’s recovery from the early setback.

Jan Vertonghen (4/5)- His partnership with Toby is a defensive force to behold. Untroubled for the majority and picked his teammates out well.

Danny Rose (3/5)- Never had full control over Ritchie and picked up a booking. A decent outlet at the other end though.

Eric Dier (4/5)- Class. Again. Protected the defence well and his ability and calmness on the ball was there for all to see.

Dele Alli (4/5)- Alli continues to look like he’s been in this league for years. Pressed high and worked as hard as anyone, but had the calmness and class on the ball to go with it. His nutmeg count continues to rise.

Mousa Dembele (4/5)- There is no doubting the Belgians talent, and for the second league match in a row he was one of the best on the pitch. A performance full of clever passing and strength on the ball. Tidy finish for his goal.

Erik Lamela (3.5/5)- Oh so slowly, but oh so surely. The Argentine is improving. Not quite as good as his teammates but still showed some delightful touches and was in the right place to get his goal. His Spurs career was on the brink this summer, and he’s responded.

Christian Eriksen (4.5/5)- A joy to watch at times. The passing, the vision, the workrate, it was all there. His pass led to the penalty and his stunning cross led to Kane’s second. Denied a superb goal of his own by the post. In this mood, in this form, there are few better in the league. Back to his best.

Harry Kane (5/5)- Is he back? Maybe a little too early to say Harry Kane has hit the heights of last season but he’s well on his way based on this performance. Added a killer instinct to his usual hard work and his hatrick will be as much a relief to him as it is to the fans. Showed his calmness from the spot, and his predatory instinct for the following goals.

Subs

Ryan Mason (3.5/5)- Good to see him back. Settled into the game quickly and kept the ball ticking over nicely

N’jie and Trippier N/A

Player Ratings: Spurs 0-0 Liverpool

After a 0-0 draw at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Tom Scholes takes a look at some of the Tottenham players who played the best, and some who weren’t quite as good.

Hugo Lloris: 3.5/5

It was a type of game for Lloris where he had to keep his focus every minute, as the lack of action meant that Hugo was rarely called upon. But when the Frenchman was called upon, he reacted well, whether it be sweeping up at the back or stopping the shots.

Kyle Walker: 3/5

Still an unconvincing performance from Walker once again, but at least he didn’t make any game threatening errors. Clearly the quickest defender we have, his pace is an important asset when a ball over the top comes in.

Jan Vertonghen: 3.5/5

Another great display at the back for the Belgian, who is so good on the ball he could probably play in central midfield. A clean sheet once more is a great sign that our defense is one of the best we have had in years. His partnership with Toby Alderweireld is potentially one of the best in the Premier League

Toby Alderweireld: 3.5/5

Exactly same as Vertonghen, as these two are quite simply fantastic together at the back. Not much more to say than that, but he can be a great player in terms of passing and aerial threats.

Danny Rose: 3.5/5

It may be worth giving Rose a run on the left hand side of the attack rather than at the back, because his ability to go forward is astounding, and his pace is such a threat to the opposition. Not a bad game today, but he could maybe have been just a slither better.

Mousa Dembele: 4/5

What a player this lad can be! The way that he moved on the ball, and how he broke up play has probably given Mauricio Pochettino a huge selection headache for future games. It’s not often that I agree with Michael Owen, but it’s hard to argue with his Man of the Match award.

Dele Alli: 3/5-

An average performance today, but not in a bad sense, because the boy from Milton Keynes didn’t really do anything wrong. His passing is still on point, and he never looks intimidated by the opposition.

Nacer Chadli/ Clinton N’jie: 3/5

With Chadli going off early on, N’jie was given the task of attacking down the left hand side. Sadly, the opportunity seemed to just pass him by. I didn’t dislike the performance today, but you could clearly tell that he may be more comfortable and effective in a more central role.

Christian Eriksen: 3.5/5

Again, Eriksen didn’t do much in terms of changing the game, but he was always a threat. Coming off the back of two goals away to Swansea, a lot was expected from the Dane, but unfortunately, he couldn’t produce. Mind you, he still played better than Coutinho.

Erik Lamela: 3/5

I don’t know about you, but did Lamela seem to only give away fouls today? Very quiet, but he is looking a lot more confident when on the ball, and that is always a good thing to see. Put that down to Pochettino and his style of man management.

Harry Kane: 3.5/5

Not a spectacular performance, but there were encouraging signs. No goal, a couple of chances, overall a good outing. Not much to talk about with Kane, other than he is starting to be more than just goals for Tottenham.

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.

Who Should Be Tottenham’s Third Attacking Midfielder?

In one of the more attractive vacancies in the footballing world, Spurs are on the look out for an attacking midfielder. Following the closure of the transfer window, Spurs will be looking in-house to fill the position.

Wanted: Attacking midfielder with proven ability to play on right side of a three.

Attributes required: The ideal candidate must show a willingness to run behind, press high up the pitch and provide cover for a marauding fullback when required. The ability to create chances, run with the ball and use possession efficiently are essential. Pace and shooting ability preferred.

Christian Eriksen, knee injury permitting, is the main creative force in the centre and was sorely missed against Everton, despite Ryan Mason’s sterling effort at filling in. One presumes Son Heung-Min has been signed as an upgrade over Nacer Chadli for the Jay Rodriguez role on the left-side, cutting in and supporting Harry Kane with goals.

But that leaves one space up for grabs. A third amigo, a third musketeer, a third banana.

In the season so far, Mousa Dembele has occupied the position, to limited effect. The Belgian has his supporters, but I’m not one of them. For all the talent and touch and seeming class, there is little-to-no end product. He presumably had some traumatic experience with long-range shooting as a child, such is his unwillingness to have a go at goal. He also has developed an aversion to carrying the ball forwards in recent seasons, preferring instead to take a step forward, stop, retreat, and then pass the ball sideways like some latter day Ray Wilkins.

His slow plays gums up Spurs attacking flow and makes it too easy for the opposition to get into formation, and is a frequent contributor to the tedious play we see at White Hart Lane with its tight pitch. As I’ve mentioned previously, I actually would like to see him up front — I’m going to keep banging on about this until either a) someone agrees with me or b) Pochettino tries it and he is rubbish.

So, let’s take a look at the other candidates:

Nacer Chadli: Once Son settles in, it will be at the expense of Chadli. Chadli had all the makings of a transfer bust in his first season, but then turned it around splendidly once Pochettino arrived. He scored 11 goals in 35 appearances last season, and already is off the mark this term. He looks like he has everything — pace, power, technique, goal-scoring ability and height. But the whole doesn’t quite add up the sum of the parts — he is a very good player, but not a great player. There are times when he drifts out of the game, or appears to settle for a 7/10 performance when a greedier player would be sniffing around for the extra goal or assist. You’ve got to want to dominate. But, to me, I’d rank Chadli as the primary option to fill the vacant spot due to his ability to score goals. Bar his first season at Spurs, he has been a consistent scorer throughout his career. He should be able to operate on the right rather than his preferred left flank.

Andros Townsend: Sorry, England international Andros Townsend. I thought Spurs would move Townsend on this summer while his stock remains high after his excellent international outings. But, they kept hold of him — it now feels like the last chance saloon. Last season, Pochettino gave Townsend and Lamela extended runs and neither excelled. In 17 league appearances last season, Townsend had two goals (one was a penalty) and two assists. This is pretty pathetic when you have your mate Harry Kane up front and breathing fire. To me, Townsend is best coming off the bench as an impact guy who runs at tired defences. When he starts, he gives the ball away too much, doesn’t track back and contributes little. He may improve, and he certainly needs to.

Erik Lamela: The record signing and official club enigma. I thought he was out the door this summer, but various transfers collapsed and he is stuck at Spurs. He is never going to be a £30 million player, but there is undoubtedly talent there. First of all, Lamela makes things happen. Last season in 25 league appearances he had two goals and seven assists (Eriksen had just 2 assists in 37 games). He obviously has a wand of a left foot, as that rabona and the game winner against Burnley showed. His problem is that he gives the ball away constantly, and fouls whenever he tries to make a tackle, especially during League games when it appears the pace is too high. This must drive Pochettino mad. But, as a creative option, I’m glad Lamela is still kicking around — the squad feels a bit samey and predictable without someone like him. I’m not sure how much time he will see in the League, but I expect Lamela to light up the Europa League this season — even if only in a bid to secure his move away from the Lane.

Dele Alli: In his few appearances so far, Alli has looked seriously exciting. He scored what should have been the winner against Leicester, and against Everton he was immediately into the action and could have been involved in two goals. He looks an extraordinary athlete, with great technical ability and a willingness to make runs and get involved. It would be no surprise if Alli had made this position his own by the end of the season.

Alex Pritchard: His injury at the U21 Euros was seriously unfortunate as it cost him a rare chance to impress Pochettino in preseason. But, he is fit now and has an opportunity with the Europa League and Capital One Cup kicking in. I think it is easy to downplay what he did last season with Brentford — he was sensational. Twelve goals and seven assists in 45 matches is some performance. I watched a couple of the games as I was starting to get excited — it wasn’t that he was technically good, what caught the eye was that he was dominating and leading the team. In his brief England performances in the summer, he was one of the few players to make an impact and was sorely missed once he was injured. In style and physique, he seems a lot like Eriksen, but a lot of his play for Brentford was from the wide positions.

Josh Onomah: From what I know about him, he primarily plays through the centre. But many a fine player has shifted wide in search of playing time early in their careers. I’ve only seen glimpses — but they are so tantalizing! What touch and vision he shows. I’m sure it is a year or two too early for him — but who knows? The fact that he is still there, rather than out on loan, means he has a chance.

Clinton N’Jie: Can he play on the right-side of a three? Can he play up front? Can he play at all? Is he the next Samuel Eto’o? Is he the next Helder Postiga? Can he walk in a straight line without falling over? I really have no clue, and suspect no-one else does either.

Those are the main contenders. Ryan Mason, at a push could play out on the right, but this would be a defensive choice. Harry Winks plays centrally. I’d like to nominate Tom Carroll as the official “forgotten man” of the Spurs squad — I’m amazed he is still here. Though, with the lack of central midfield options, we may be seeing him in the Europa League. But anyway, he isn’t a wide man.

So, there are options. In fact, there are plenty of options — it’s just not entirely clear if any of them are good options. Some are intriguing, some are an exercise in optimism, some have already flattered to deceive.

But I like the fact there is clear competition for a spot in a good Premier League team, and that it will come down to who is the hungriest and who takes their chance when offered.

Charles Richards blogs at The Spurs Report. Follow him on Twitter (@crg_yeah), and Fresh Spurs (@Fresh_Spurs_)

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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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.”