Tottenham Focus - A point against Man Utd but were three up for grabs?
Tottenham took a point at home to Manchester United in a snowy White Hart Lane and ensure they will stay in fourth after this round of Premier League fixtures is complete after Everton’s Monday night game. In claiming a point, Spurs also broke United’s own talismanic record of winning every game in which Robin van Persie had scored.
Clint Dempsey’s equalizer in what is classically known as “Fergie time” to claim the point was perhaps the least Spurs deserved. The Lilywhites not only had the majority of possession and by far the greater number of shots - 25 to United’s five. Of Spurs’ shots only six were off target, with a mixture of David de Gea, defensive blocks and arguably some poor decision making by Tottenham frustrating the team for so long.
Apart from gifting United too much space for their goal and a Wayne Rooney penalty shout, Spurs defence were fairly comfortable. Only 22% of the play was in the Spurs home third and in the main was dealt with comfortably by Michael Dawson, who has fought his way back into the team, and by Steven Caulker, who continues to show why he is so highly rated.
Kyle Naughton continued at left-back despite Benoit Asssou-Ekoto being on the bench. Whilst Naughton was proficient defensively his distribution going forward seemed wayward at times. Assou-Ekotto came on for Naughton in the 64th minute, and whilst the distribution improved, the Cameroonian looked match rusty.
The same may perhaps be said of Scott Parker. Not necessarily defensively, where he tackled and intercepted with his trademark hustle and bustle but going forward, where there seemed a tendency to charge head down, uncertain of the final pass. Parker was arguably not alone.
United were content to sit deep for much of the match, challenging Spurs to break them down. Phil Jones had been brought into the midfield to support Rafael against Gareth Bale and the Welsh flyer was stifled to some extent. Spurs had industry, possession and patience but the problem again appeared to be creativity.
Without that creative No 10 Spurs probe and probe looking for an opening. However, perhaps one way to bypass that is to be snappier in the pass - quick one, two touch passing and movement to break down defences. Too often Spurs dallied on the ball, allowing United’s midfield and defence to close down space and make tackles, turning Spurs away for them to start again. At times this meant Spurs resulted to the long ball to Jermain Defoe, unlikely to reap any benefit against Nemanja Vidic.
When chances were created, either the wrong shot option was taken, or too much time, as with Defoe after good work from Aaron Lennon, allowing the defence to recover. Lennon - arguably man of the match - looked excellent again all afternoon. The Englishman worked hard defensively, tracking back to support Kyle Walker and was probably Spurs’ main outlet going forward, making six key passes, including an assist for the hard working Dempsey.
Taking four points off of United in a season is a good return, but it could have been more for Spurs with faster passing, especially around United’s aging and injury-prone centre-backs.
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