The form of Tottenham’s defenders is scary. Just three goals conceded in seven games, including a clean sheet against Manchester City, has been the backbone to Mauricio Pochettino’s success at the Lane. Clever signings and the recapturing of form from average squad players under the previous management has proved worth its weight in gold.
There is not a defence in the land that is as strong and well-balanced as Tottenham.
When Mauricio Pochettino arrived there was always the question of Champions League football on the horizon, but with such a leaky and inconsistent back line, it was nearly impossible to build a solid foundation. The Argentine quickly identified the intention to make his defence solid. He already had a number of quality players at his disposal but they were critically lacking in form.
Toby Alderweireld was the only addition to the back four when he was snatched from under Southampton’s noses. Following an impressive season-long loan at Saints, Tottenham swooped in before their South Coast rivals and secured the signing of the Belgian.
Much of the credit for Alderweireld’s fine form can go to compatriot Jan Vertonghen who has been in stunning form since his former Ajax teammate arrived at the club in 2015. Vertonghen and Alderweireld have been part of the Belgium national team since 2009 but rarely have they had the chance to work alongside each other for Belgium as they both regularly featured in the full-back positions.
The foundation for their superb relationship was established as both players came through the famous Ajax football academy. The pair were crucial to Ajax’s title success of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 before Vertonghen left to join Tottenham.
Alongside the Belgian duo, Danny Rose’s form has seen him become one of the best full-backs in England. He has not only firmly established himself as first choice ahead at Spurs, but has risen up the England pecking order as well.
Rose is forever bombing forward, and when he does, his end product is certainly far better than it was before Pochettino’s arrival at White Hart Lane. Instead of a lofting a hopeful ball into the box and hoping for the best, Rose commits to being part of Spurs’ attacks, either staying on the touchline to provide width or getting into the box to attack the opposition defence.
At the back, Rose has improved considerably, and his tackling is at the forefront of his success. It was certainly a doubt that was upon him prior to Pochettino’s arrival, but he is now a solid one-on-one defender, rather than an obvious weakness to be targeted at every opportunity by the opposition.
Right-back Kyle Walker is constantly suffering, and his mistakes are highlighted disproportionately. Despite this,. a large proportion of his good play goes largely unnoticed. Against Manchester City, Walker was the definition of consistent.
Walker was renowned for being unable to pass well, and would regularly misjudge when to bomb forward in attack, but those areas in his game are being addressed games go by. He showed glimpses in 2011/12 season but after Harry Redknapp’s departure, we failed to see the best of the former Sheffield United defender.
Pochettino has laid the foundations for a title challenge by ensuring his defensive unit is as solid as ever. Any great team in history can lay claim to having a solid back four and Tottenham could potentially reclaim the glory days of the 1960’s.