FIVE things we learned about Tottenham last night

Tottenham Hotspur van der VaartSpurs European form is eluding them on the domestic front.

Those of you who read my article last week about ‘5 things we learned from Spurs’ demolition of the European Champion’ might remember a word of caution I voiced about Spurs’ domestic form in less glamorous ties. Having now picked up just two points in their last four domestic encounters and scored just 8 goals in 7 Premier League games at White Hart Lane compared with 11 in 3 Champions League games there, Spurs appear to be having difficulties transferring their European form into the Premiership. What is key to the success of Spurs season that the reason for this poor domestic form is discovered and addressed sooner rather than later. Certainly a greater degree of expectation appears to be contributing to a slide in performances. In Europe little is expected of Spurs as debutants to the Champions League so their opponents go out to beat them. This is a tactic Spurs have been able to exploit particularly with devastating pace down the left against Inter, Bremen and Twente. It resulted in the Weserstadion faithful booing their team off at half time as Spurs took a 2-1 lead against Werder Bremen. In the Premiership they are much less of an unknown quantity.

Spurs appear unable to break down stubborn teams when things are not going their way.

Despite the riches in attack on offer to Spurs, they have been found wanting on more than one occasion. This is at least partly, if not wholly, due to the defensive tactics being adopted by teams on their travels to White Hart Lane. Teams in recent games, particularly Sunderland and Everton, are much more aware of Bale’s deadly pace if left isolated on the left flank. And they are doing more to prevent this weapon used at the loss of an attacking impetus of their own. These defensive tactics being employed successfully expose a toothless ness in the Spurs attack. They appeared to lack a cutting edge last night, the ability to really trouble a resolute defence. Although more play came down the right flank due to the attention shown to Bale, Bentley’s lack of pace was unable to truly utilise this.

Crouch is a better option from the bench.

I was initially a bit disappointed Pavlyuchenko was not given longer to show what he can do having scored in his last two substitute appearances. But apparently it was a slight back injury that caused his early withdrawal from the game and Crouch came on to provide Van der Vaart with a fairly routine conversion. Crouch came did exactly what I believe he can do. Be a handful in the opposition box offer something different when Tottenham are not playing well. It would have resulted in the perfect result. The type commentators are all too keen to point out that it’s important to get results when the team is not playing well. That was of course before the defensive disaster laid waste to that analysis of the game.
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A defensive howler allowed Sunderland back into the game far too easily.

And will encourage these kinds of negative tactics as teams will go into the games thinking if we can successfully nullify the Spurs attack, we are in with a good chance as we are sure to get a goal against their leaky defence. It is a one which has not kept a clean sheet since the first day of the season against Manchester City. And such a clumsy error at the defensive heart of a team will not instil confidence throughout the team. I have not been impressed with Gallas since his arrival at Tottenham and feel Dawson and King’s return cannot come too soon. Kaboul on the other hand has been looking confident and capable but he was equally at fault for the goal. The most infuriating aspect of this for Spurs fans was although not at their best Tottenham had just managed to take the lead. And prior to their fortuitous equaliser, Sunderland had shown little on the attack, yet the nature of the goal swung the momentum their way. They ended the game on the up with Spurs hanging on for a point.

Spurs are unable to get the rub of the green with regards Howard Webb’s refereeing decisions.

Cattermole’s high challenge on Modric was not a red card for me; it was clumsy and reckless tackle but not deserving of an early bath. The fact that he clearly got the ball first before his foot bounced up of the top of it and clattered into Mordic ensured it was only a yellow card for the Sunderland skipper. However to award Sunderland a free kick for a dive by Bentley when he was clearly brought down by Zenden was a truly astonishing decision. His track record against (and I use the word deliberately) Spurs is not the greatest. Giving Manchester United a soft penalty two seasons ago that had a big impact in denying Spurs of a memorable victory at Old Trafford.

 


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