Tottenham Focus - Does West Ham loss highlight underlying concerns?
Tottenham suffered a 3-0 reverse at home to West Ham United on Sunday which saw the Lilywhites slip to sixth place, three points off top spot in the Premier League.
Spurs dominated possession and territory but West Ham were organized and resolute in defending throughout and scored a goal from a set piece before adding two more on the break when Spurs were chasing the game. However, the question is: Despite Spurs’ good start to the season, was this match a defeat waiting to happen?
This may have been only the third game this season in which Spurs have conceded goals, but the goals against have all come in the Premier League [to London clubs]. In the seven games this season, the opposition have had 62 shots: the fact that before Sunday’s match only two goals had been conceded may be down to several factors, including the number of shots off target, the 14 blocked shots and that Spurs have arguably the best goalkeeper in the league, Hugo Lloris.
Is this down to an imbalance in the team? Whilst Michael Dawson is rightly lauded for his heart on the sleeve performances, he can struggle when facing pace and direct running as seen against Ravel Morrison and Fernando Torres. This tends to leave Lloris in a one on one situation. As good as the Frenchman is he won’t make the save every time.
Perhaps the biggest problem though is the lack of a defensive midfield. Mousa Dembélé and Paulinho have started all league games - both midfielders have excellent defensive strengths but are not true defensive midfielders in the mould of the injured Étienne Capoue or Sandro. With Dembélé as the playmaker and Paulinho more the box to box, both tend to get forward and the defence can be left exposed unless there is the discipline for one to sit whilst the other advances. The sooner Sandro returns to full fitness the better for the balance of the team.
Arguably the other area of concern against West Ham [and others] was the inability to breakdown the opposition. Teams will pack the defence and midfield to stifle Spurs and with Tottenham’s inverted wing play the centre of the midfield becomes too congested. The full=-backs can offer width but Kyle Walker’s crossing is not the most accurate, whilst on the left Kyle Naughton’s continual cutting inside to his favoured right foot, as well as Gylfi Sigurdsson doing the same, means in the absence of Danny Rose there is almost no width to be seen. Naughton on the wrong side is also more defensively susceptible to outside right wing play.
Against West Ham, Andros Townsend was able to beat his man on both sides and when he went outside he put in some dangerous crosses that Jermain Defoe, who had been pushing for this start, failed to finish. Spurs need to mix the wide play more, especially when faced with a packed defence.
This was a disappointing defeat but ultimately could act as a needed wake up call to address some underlying issues.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG