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Are Spurs Making The Same Mistakes As Last Season?

10 games to go between now and the end of the season, Europa League included, and off the back of three consecutive defeats. Nick Harris ponders whether Spurs are making the same mistakes as last season in their hunt for a top four finish.

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Before beginning the grim job of dissecting a week where Tottenham Hotspur have lost three consecutive matches, it is worth remembering that the club is still in a top four place, and will be regardless of how Arsenal perform in their game in hand, and they are also in the quarter finals of the Europa League. Just as is it easy to get carried away with a victory, one, two and even three losses do not represent the end of the world.

That said, there are issues in the side that need to be addressed, and the worry has to be that the disappointing finish to last year’s season might yet be replicated this time around. In fact the problems that arose at this stage last year are strikingly similar, with Spurs seemingly jaded and facing a nightmare run of fixtures with a squad unprepared for the challenge.

This year it could be worse, with Europa League participation meaning at least two more Thursday – Sunday match weeks. Much was made of the fact that since the start of February, Spurs had played more than twice as many matches as Fulham going into Sunday’s game at White Hart Lane, and at points it was obvious that the squad is feeling the effects of that run of matches.

Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen have played nine out of ten matches since the start of February, and Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon have both only missed games when they were unavailable through suspension and injury. In the centre of midfield, Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele have started every match, with even the towering Belgian beginning to show the effects of this run.

It is not only a fitness concern, in fact the bigger issue has to be that teams now know more or less exactly how Spurs will line-up, especially in attack. The strengths and weaknesses of Spurs game are well known; press Parker and the odds are eventually he will 360 his way into trouble, stand off Dembele because he can take it past anyone regardless of how jaded he is.

The left flank will cut infield, if Lennon isn’t there the right flank will too, Adebayor and Defoe will mostly take care of themselves but look out for Vertonghen coming forward. Pressure Walker, and you will generally be handed one or two free kicks in a dangerous position. Bale? Double up and hope for the best.

These are all good players, and the Spurs game plan is not a bad one, after all it is what got the team into this position in the first place, but with so many matches in quick succession it is stale and the players are not fresh enough to make it work every time.

There are options on the bench, Lewis Holtby and Tom Carroll should see more time on the pitch, Clint Dempsey is now back from injury and has to have an impact, and Steven Caulker should start more matches. Spurs are not broken, but changes should have been made to the side even during the excellent unbeaten run, and now these changes are imperative if the season is to end on a high note.



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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Andy

    March 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Could AVB be making the same mistakes as Redknapp??

    He often seems reluctant to drop his experienced players like Parker, Defoe, Adebayor and Walker. He did just drop Walker for the first time against Fulham, but Naughton was not a good replacement.

    The most important thing is that Spurs need to play as a team. With Bale in the middle, it works when he is on form because he can win games individually. Unfortunately he has that individualistic winger mentality and often fails to see or choose the obvious pass. Carroll was electric when he came on against Fulham and was the only player who could make a breakthrough and yet Bale missed opportunities to pass to him and instead lost the ball running into a wall of players.

    For the sake of playing as a team, move Bale back to the left until Spurs bring in Christian Eriksen or Pritchard. Play Dembele just in front of defence, where he can win tackles and make forward runs at the right times. Play both Holtby and Carroll as a central midfield creative partnership. Bale can still exchange positions a bit during the game with Holtby, to mix it up.

    In the summer, sell Livermore, Huddlestone, Bentley, Adebayor, Rose, SIgurdsson, Dempsey, Walker and Naughton. Bring in two new strikers, a new right back and cover left back, Christian Eriksen and promote some youngsters like Adam Smith and Alex Pritchard into the first team squad.

  2. jim

    March 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    can't see how we are choking. We are simply slotting into the position in the league where we should be. Positions in the Premier league depend on how much money you have. This is a fact. By most financial lists we are 5th or 6th richest or biggest wage payers, thus this is where we should finish, this is our 'par' score if you like.
    We have been under par all season and are now simply slotting back to where we should be.

    We haven't choked, we haven't under performed, you simply get what you can afford.
    Its no coincidence the richest clubs come top and the poorest bottom, this is what football has become sadly.
    Think yourselves lucky, there are 87 other teams in england who would love to be us.

  3. alee

    March 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Agree with the article. Nail. Head.

  4. JOHN ADAM

    March 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Spurs need new blood, good strikers especially.

  5. del

    March 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Hahaha spuds you will finish out of the top four why because you haven't got the fight, apart from bale your sqaud is crap…. Come on you reds!!! Coyg

  6. JOHN ADAM

    March 20, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I hope Spurs will bounce back but AVB must position his players correctly. I personally think that Bale, for example, does best as a left winger to send crosses into the goal area through his fast pace.

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