It was a week today that pundits were singing Mauricio Pochettino’s praises. A draw away to Real Madrid, and a complete demolition of Liverpool at Wembley, pundits couldn’t be blamed for getting carried away in thinking this would be the team that could push Man City all the way. After two “almost” seasons, Spurs could really have ambitions of lifting the Premier League.
How quickly things can change in football.
In the 87th minute at Wembley, Harry Kane sat down and grabbed his hamstring. He was quickly subbed off, but instead of making his way down the tunnel, he joined his team mates in the dugout to watch the end of the game, and applaud the supporters at full time. No cause for concern.
Harry Kane is substituted off after scoring two goals against Liverpool. He left the field holding his hamstring. 😕 pic.twitter.com/M4slW7JfLd
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) October 22, 2017
Three days later and Tottenham were two goals to the good at half time against West Ham, no Kane in the side, seemingly rested for back to back games against Manchester United and Real Madrid, but in that second half Tottenhams momentum collapsed.
An out of form West Ham pulled a goal back, and the wind came out of Tottenhams sails. A three goal blitz in 15 minutes, left Spurs 3-2 down, and crashing out of the Carabao Cup. Pochettino said before the match that he didn’t have this trophy at the top of his priorities, but success breeds success. Tottenham want to compete for the major trophies, but one trophy can lead to more, winning trophies provides a winning mentality.
You only have to look at this weekends opponents, Manchester United. Last season they may have finished 6th in the league, but as League Cup and Europa League winners, they created a winning mentality, and once again have a fear factor about them.
So how fitting it would be that Pochettino brought his men to Old Trafford this weekend, with an opportunity to lay down a marker as Premier League challengers.
Pochettino announced Friday that they would be without Harry Kane, an announcement which would have delighted the Manchester United players, and given Pochettino a real headache with his selections for Saturday.
A bad week was about to get worse. Manchester United took advantage of a lapse of concentration in the Spurs defence for Martial to steal an 80th minute winner, and leave Tottenham 3 points behind their opponents, and by 5pm, they were 8 points behind league leaders Manchester City.
— Anthony Martial (@AnthonyMartial) October 28, 2017
Jamie Redknapp spoke throughout the game that the game was there for Tottenham if they wanted it, if they showed courage they could win the game, but without Kane they seemed to lack a player that wanted to take the game by the scruff of the neck and want to win the game. Nobody seemed to want to take responsibility.
The one opportunity just before Martial scored, a ball over the top for Christian Eriksen, Alli only had to make contact in the right direction for it to be 1-0 Tottenham. That killer instinct was needed, personally I think it was the lazy option to try and make contact with the outside of his foot, if he’d gone at it with his head, he gets there, it’s one nil.
Another example, in the last 10 minutes, and with Llorente on the pitch, trailing by a goal, there was a lack of trying to make use of the big man. Harry Winks, who has been superb this season, showed a real lack of experience and wanting to take responsibility, getting into good positions where crosses can be played, he would square the ball to Aurier, or Alderweireld. But as I say, he’s still a young player, and this will no doubt be pointed out to him when the game is analysed.
Players seemed to be going through the motions, keeping things ticking over, maintaining possession, and looking to find space that wasn’t there. Rather than apply pressure by putting crosses into the box.
If the situation was reversed, you can guarantee that Mourinho’s more experienced players would have been putting in cross after cross, trying to make the most of Lukakus stature, mounting pressure and hoping somebody makes a mistake, you see it time and time again, defenders making mistakes in the dying minutes when their box comes under constant bombardment. It just takes a momentary lapse of concentration.
There was a lot of naivety, and maybe a bit too much niceness about Tottenham yesterday, lacking the killer instinct that was shown only 7 days earlier against Liverpool.
Make no mistake about it, playing away against most Premier League sides, yesterdays starting 11 would have picked up 3 points. It’s a very talented squad, but Pochettinos record away to the top 6 as Tottenham manager is frighteningly poor.
This isn’t crisis point for Tottenham, far from it. This was their first loss in the league away from home, after winning their previous four games, against a side that has yet to concede at home.
They have a lot of first team players on the fringes of return Danny Rose and Moussa Dembele have each picked up minutes in the last two matches, and Erik Lamela, after a year on the sidelines is on the verge of returning from injury. Harry Kane is a possibility to be fit for Real Madrid this coming Wednesday, and if out, will no doubt be fit for Sundays fixture against struggling Crystal Palace.
— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) October 29, 2017
With the International Break coming up any result against Madrid, and a win over Palace will undoubtedly breathe confidence back this Spurs squad, and the management will have time to assess before the next segment of the season commences away to Arsenal in the first North London Derby of the season.