Gary Mabbutt has exclusively revealed to Football FanCast that Jose Mourinho has done “a lot of work” behind the scenes to improve Tottenham Hotspur’s defence after their late collapse at home to West Ham United.
Spurs stormed out to an early three-goal lead in the London derby last month, with Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane each lashing the back of the net inside the opening eight minutes.
Kane bagged his brace shortly after as Tottenham dominated the early proceedings but would fail to turn their control into all three points, as Fabian Balbuena, an own goal from Davinson Sanchez and a wonder strike from Manuel Lanzini shocked Mourinho’s men.
West Ham had only enjoyed two shots on target before Balbuena’s 82nd-minute strike found a way past Hugo Lloris, with Spurs resilient with their backs to goal to block four of the visitor’s 10 efforts, per WhoScored.
The Paraguayan’s rare strike, having only scored two goals for the Hammers before, offered David Moyes’ side all the confidence they needed, with the Irons going on to control more of the ball and unleash three times as many shots as Tottenham – who failed to register another effort on target before the full-time whistle.
Mabbutt believes the late collapse forced Mourinho to work tirelessly on the training ground to improve Spurs’ defensive abilities, but continues to have work to do with the north London side still prone to conceding goals they ought to prevent.
“For me, looking at the way we’re playing, I believe defensively, we’ve conceded some soft goals, against West Ham United especially. But a lot of work has been done in those areas,” Mabbutt told Football FanCast.
There is no doubt Tottenham have improved defensively since allowing a three-goal lead to result in just a point at home to West Ham last month, as Spurs responded to the draw with clean sheets at Burnley and West Brom, restricted Brighton to just two shots on target and shut out Manchester City last time out in the league.
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens were even only able to direct five of their mammoth 22 efforts on Lloris’ net, saw 11 blocked and attempted seven of their total shots from outside of the box.
The win saw Tottenham move back atop the Premier League standings on goal difference to title-holders Liverpool, with Mourinho’s men boasting the outright best defensive record having allowed just nine goals in nine games.
Mourinho will need to see a similarly strong defensive showing when Spurs visit his former employers Chelsea on Sunday, as Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge natives rank sixth in the division for shots per game (13.2) and third for shots on target (5.7) heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.