For the third straight Premier League game, Spurs get a one nil win that wasn’t fully convincing in a number of areas, but it’s points on the board, it’s a clean sheet and there’s a goal.
All three of which another club, currently sitting bottom of the league with none of them, would kill for. As for the first time in the top flight Spurs are top of the league while they’re bottom, thanks to Norwich having scored. As Nuno becomes the first Spurs manager to win his opening three league games, since Arthur Rowe.
For his third league game Nuno made his first starting XI change in the competition, with Kane coming in for Moura. It was a feature of his time at Wolves, especially during the first two seasons in the Premier League, making minimal changes to the starting XI.
It was one of the things that Mourinho got wrong. He didn’t know who his best XI were and didn’t seem to trust any of them, so changes were made time and time again, especially in defence, where there seemed to be a new combination of the back four every game. So no partnerships could develop, no understanding form, and so no cohesion, leading to mistakes and goals, leading to Mourinho making changes.
Dier and Sanchez have looked better this season, so far, due in no small part in playing together, getting that understanding, along with the two fullbacks, who have stayed the same. With Skipp and Hojbjerg in front of them, Hugo behind, it’s a settled seven, that will develop that understanding. Though I don’t know if it should stay unchanged, as maybe the personnel is creating some of the problems.
Yes, you understand Kane coming straight back in but it was for Moura while Bergwijn stayed in, which led to Son being o the right, with the Dutchman on the left. So it’s a player and position change. You feel, Son is better on the left and with Moura on the right, he could stay there. Would Moura have given more? Maybe. As said before Bergwijn needs that goal which would fill him with confidence, it just doesn’t look like he’ll get it.
The last two PL games have showed also the limitations of a couple of players in certain aspects. Both Tanganga and Skipp have played well but in an attacking sense they limit the team to an extent. Tanganga was excellent in stopping City in the first game. Defensively he’s sound but he’s really a centre-back not a fullback. And there’s been a few moments in attack, against Wolves and Watford, when he needed to be bombing forward. Times when there’s a ball to be played through to him but he’s on his heels, looking to defend rather than attack. Times when a player in the middle needs that out ball to the wide are but he’s not there.
Apparently Spurs have a deal with Barca for their Brazilian fullback Emerson but he’s not too sure about leaving, maybe especially not for Spurs. Aurier hasn’t been sold but also doesn’t seem to be in Nuno’s plans, while Doherty has just played in the European games.
In the middle the pair of Hojbjerg and Skipp creates a solid extra bit of protection ahead of the central pair, which has worked well. Yes, Spurs have faced chances but so far it’s zero goals against. Those two making it easier for Dier and Sanchez to stay in shape and get their blocks in.
But going forward during these last two games, there’s been something missing, some guile and creativity to break down, what was with Watford, a well organised flat back 8 to 10.
Spurs had a number of chances but As said Watford were well organised and got men in the box to block off most of the attacks. It was only late on in the second half when Watford had opened up a bit that Spurs put a real flowing move together that should have resulted in a goal.
Son nicked in and stole the ball, just inside the Spurs’ half, bombing forward, he played it off to Kane who crossed for Dele in the area, who should have scored but didn’t even hit the target. That should have finished the game off but left it on a bit of a knife edge, even with the chances Spurs created.
Son had opened the scoring just before half-time. From the left a perfect inswinging free-kick, in that right area where a touch from any player, Spurs or opponent, would have knocked it in, but in the end everyone left it, including the keeper, to go in the far post.
Spurs could have had a few penalties. Sanchez and Dier hauled over at corners, while Son leg was knocked in the area and he went down. Of course the pundits were talking above diving, which it wasn’t. While we say the low key, letting the game flow officiating only for the opposition.
In the end it wasn’t a great performance, against a newly promoted team, a team that fielded Sissoko which shows where they stand. His performance also shows where he stands. I mean, what player would be sold by Spurs on Friday, play against them on Sunday and wouldn’t have a major say in Spurs losing? He played a couple of players in for shots and had one of his own which was pure Sissoko. Watch out in row Z.
But as we keep being told, winning ugly is the sign of a good team. There’s a platform there. Will be interesting to see what materialises in the last few hours of the transfer window and how some of the other players fit into Nuno’s plans… and how long that gap can be maintained between top and bottom…