Spurs match reports

Spurs 1-2 Wolves: Four Tottenham Talking Points

1. Emerson

One did not have to be one of those medieval soothsayer types, who apparently were pretty sharp in matters of spotting what was about to happen, to feel a bit of the old dread creeping up when Big Ange gruffled the news that both of Messrs Porro and Udogie would spend their Saturday afternoon being patched up in some infirmary tent rather than fighting the good fight on-pitch.

No huge surprises in the identity of their replacements, Emerson on one side and Ben Davies t’other, and while their earnestness was never going to be in doubt, that wasn’t really ever going to be the point, what?

There was a general lack of the sharpened tooth about our play from starter’s gun to finish line yesterday, incidences of rapier-like passing that cut to ribbons the opposition being so few that one could count them on the fingers of one hand. Now of course it would be a bit much to lay all the blame for this at the doors of Emerson and Davies, and our endeavours might well have been similarly fruitless with Porro and Udogie at the roaming-full-back wheel, not least because the second half was pretty much a non-stop session of trying to pick a way through a back-ten in and around their own area.

But nevertheless. Particularly in the first half, when the game was a tad more open but our passing from deep-to-advanced was pretty uninspired, I did stare off into the distance and do a spot of yearning.

Emerson, being the sort of egg so curious that he merits his own unique category of one, could conceivably have offered a bit of attacking spark, if all his lights were on. While he is probably not one for a 40-yard Porro-esque pass onto a sixpence, I had hoped we might see him carry the ball forward and infield, and give the Wolves lot something about which to confer.

Unfortunately, with Emerson one has to take the bonkers with the smooth, and he gave a few early indications that this was to be one of his more exasperating innings. For a start there were a few horribly misplace passes, which I suppose can happen to anyone, but when emanating from the size nines of Emerson do tend to suggest that he is off on another planet. Confidence – or rather lack thereof – never having been an issue with this mad young bean, rather than rein it in a bit he simply carried on trying no-look passes and whatnot.

However, the moment that really made me tut and stew was when, having been lazily caught in possession and deposited upon his derriere, rather than bounce straight back up, hellbent on correcting his error, he remained in his seat and took to waving his arms for an imaginary foul. Wolves, meanwhile, simply got on with it, shoved their way into our area and almost scored, dash it.

Obviously I use the pen-wielder’s licence to colour the lad’s entire performance as unequivocally disastrous, when the truth is probably that he made plenty of quiet, positive contributions, but in the first half in particular too many of his inputs led to a skyward fling of the AANP hands, and a muttered imprecation as its soundtrack. In a first half badly lacking cohesion and threat, Emerson made a handy poster-boy for our troubles.

2. Ben Davies

Ben Davies, to give credit where due, was actually pretty solid defensively and expansive offensively. If there is a criticism of him – apart from the wild misdirection of that late header, which ought to have CPR-d the result – it is that he is not Destiny Udogie, which seems a rather cruel sort of mud to sling at a fellow. I mean, not much that one can do about being born as one person and not as another, what?

As mentioned, he did things well enough. The sort of willing chappie destined always to be in the ‘Supporting Cast’ category, he won a few early defensive arguments against his opposing winger, and also made regular visits to the Wolves final third. Truth be told, he was as effective an attacking spoke as anyone else, and if I could have toddled around the changing-room post-match and canvassed a few opinions, I suspect that Sonny, Maddison and Richarlison would have spoken kindly enough of his contributions.

But in a game in which we sorely lacked a bit of the old thrust, I did note that the most incisive first half passes into the final third came from Messrs VDV on the left and Romero on the right. A spot of Udogie from deep would have gone down well.

3. Kulusevski

The half-time mood was pretty dark at AANP Towers. There was no shortage of subjects of ire, and not really enough time to have the deep and meaningful rant that each of them deserved, but one point on which I (and a chum or two) were pretty clear was that the current iteration of Kulusevski was pretty seriously undercooked.

Naturally he then took 46 seconds to ram my words down my throat with a bit of meaning, dancing around defenders in that curious way of his that seems to defy physics (my eyes probably deceived, but I’m pretty convinced that at one point he ran literally through a Wolves defender – which I accept contradicts much of what we know of modern science, but there we go).

So bucketfuls of credit where due, it was a fabulously executed goal. However, I maintain that it was also quite the anomaly. Kulusevski’s outputs in general this season seem to have been pretty muted. Of the unstoppable buccaneer of Spring 2022 there is little sign these days. In his defence, none of the fifteen outfield players used yesterday had much attacking success, so I’m happy to slather some context about the place, but with Kulusevski these diminished returns have been evident for some time.

This business of constantly cutting back onto his left foot strikes me as constituting a hefty chunk of the problem. Funnily enough it does still catch the occasional opponent by surprise, but this isn’t much good given that it also tends to suck a decent gulp of momentum from the attacking move. Defenders who might a smidgeon earlier have been out of position and rushing back to their posts, with sirens for both panic and confusion sounding in their ears, are granted time to pack out the place and steady their feet. The diem passes frustratingly un-carpe’d.

Moreover, having completed the whole business of cutting back onto his left, Kulusevski very rarely then makes good on his pledge and does anything meaningful with the ball thereafter. When he first joined, a couple of years back, one lost count of the number of times he cut back and curled the ball either into the far corner or into the path of an onrushing forward sort. Whereas these days he just bunts the thing into the first opposing body and it bounces away, or else loops a shot high and wide.

Much of Kulusevski’s value has traditionally derived from his deceptive burst of pace carrying the ball from halfway onwards, which is fair enough, and a trait still occasionally in evidence against more adventurous teams playing higher up the pitch; but on the whole, and certainly on occasions like yesterday, when up against a deep-lying defence, there’s not much scope for such frivolity.

Towards the end of yesterday’s proceedings, when Our Glorious Leader adopted the Football Manager approach of shoving as many attackers onto the pitch as the rules allowed, we were treated to a brief glimpse of Kulusevski in a more central role, which, from my armchair, seems to suit him a little better. Again, however, there protrudes a spanner in the works, as with Maddison back one would not expect to see too much of Kulusevski at number 10.

As with Emerson, one could hardly lump all our woes into one neat pile at the door of Kulusevski and wait for him to solve everything, but it’s another of those charming little knots that Postcoglou et al will need to unravel.

4. Van de Ven and Vicario

On a positive note, both Van de Ven and Vicario were in pretty spiffing form yesterday, so that was a little treat for the gathered masses.

Rather a shame that it was all to no avail, but VDV’s recovery pace continues to make the eyes pop from the head, and will presumably receive greater acclaim on future dates, when deployed in a winning cause. It was not so evident in the second half, when the pattern of things shifted considerably, but in the first half every time Wolves got behind our high-line – the difficulty of which was right up there alongside taking sweets from babies – one could breathe easily in the knowledge that a locomotive in human form would pretty swiftly be arriving from across the pitch to hoover up the mess.

Vicario, similarly, took the opportunity to showcase his most eye-catching stuff. Point-blank save in each half were worth goals, and I have a feeling he had another chalked off by an offside flag, but it was enough to communicate the gist: here was a man in rare old form.

Moreover, given that so much hot air is now expelled on the topic of what goalkeepers do with their feet, there was a charmingly old-fashioned thrill in seeing our man stick out a reflexive paw a couple of time to execute some point-blank saves.

That said, both goals conceded were pretty maddening. The first in particular prompted a rather weary groan, an unmarked header from a corner of all things being the sort of offence that ought to have the lot of them docked a month’s wages and locked in dank cells. As for the second, it was pretty clearly scripted stuff by our opponents, which in turn reflects poorly on our Brains Trust. Much to ponder in the next couple of weeks.

Sharing is daring:

24 replies on “Spurs 1-2 Wolves: Four Tottenham Talking Points”

Awful effort.

I would not blame E Royal too much. Somehow across the team all the pace and intent has ebbed away from the levels set in those halcyon early weeks. Too much lame slow passing backwards or sideways. Two more poor goals conceded, and v few threatened.

HM Son poor yesterday. And why bring on Werner but play him in the centre for a while?

Facts must be faced. Is AngeBall merely an update on doomed BielsaBall with a posh stadium and better players? Flashy but no steely core?

On a Latin note, I think it should be dies not diem here ??. Important to be precise in such things.

Yes, think you’re right on dies – subject and object and all that. Mea culpa.
Bit early to be writing off Angeball; but some sort of cunning plan is required for days (and opposing tactics) like these.

*Although*… on further consideration, I wonder if the fact that I’m essentially quoting the term might mean that its case remains unchanged. I shall consult a classical scholar of my acquaintance.
This is obviously the critical issue from yesterday.

Excellent riposte, AANP. Do keep us updated on this one. Important to get the mot juste, what? (Quoi?)
Re Emerson, “one has to take the bonkers with the smooth” – so true; in fact this could become a dedicated strap-line heading your blog. [Insert smiley]

Now wondering whether the original sentence might have been more appropriately phrased as “The dies passes frustratingly un-carpisset” (if adhering strictly to declensions and tenses). I have contacted an expert for assistance. This is turning into quite the Sunday.

I’m setting myself up to be shot down tonight – but at Tottenham we have a few mottos and this one is displayed loud & proud on a stadium billboard where everyone can see it “it’s not about winning it’s about the glory of the game” – subject to correction in the detail- a Danny Blanchflower quote. This surely means we stick to our guns and continue to play Angeball – (the glory is in the way you play, not in the trophy cabinet) and what I read into Ange’s post-match presser is – we are very far from his target – in the way we are playing – we are nowhere near the level he has in mind – the current squad has to adapt and improve or be moved on – and we need to bring in new talent into the 1st team squad continuously. This doesn’t mean buying high-priced headline-makers – some of these players will hopefully come out of the Academy or return from loan spells to buy into the dream and become indoctrinated with Angeball.

Agree. I have a caveat or two (an occasional long kick from Vicario, to keep opponents guessing about the high press; consideration given on tweaking something – I know not what – for games like Wolves, when we’re up against a ten-man defence), but I’m definitely keen that we stick to our guns and play Angeball, and encouraged by what you say about his post-match press conference (I was too grumpy to watch/listen), i.e. that in his opinion we’re far from where he wants, and some players need moving on etc. All for Angeball, and trying to be more patient about the losses. (There’s a modern cricketing analogy to be had, as it happens…)

Think a big factor that has been overlooked and quite clever by wolves was not letting spurs attack the south stand end second half

This was a match that exposed our shortcomings rather than showcased our attributes. No need to be soft on Emerson or Davies, they are not really up to fulfilling Ange’s ultimate ambitions and will most likely depart in the summer. Deki really is out of form and possibly out of shape, mind you he had to deal with the support of Emerson rather than Porro – nevertheless like his partners upfront, Sonny & Richy, and latterly Werner & Johnson, he was pretty hopeless. The goal was hard to describe and possibly a complete fluke. Absolutely spot on with Vic & VDV they were outstanding. As poor as Spurs were – there were only half a dozen slick passing movements – I can’t fathom how pundits and reporters rate Wolves as the better side!! They are what Conte wanted for us! Criticising Ange is unwarranted, he is 7 months into the job and had picked up a rough hand, but has managed to entertain us most of the time. His honesty in post-match pressers is commendable and I’d rather see him passively observing and thinking rather than have a pratt like O’Neill trying to continuously direct the traffic like Mourinho & Conte.

Agree, the pundits’ take on this was an irritating addendum. You’re likely right on Emerson and Davies; I wonder what the future holds for Kulusevski after another year or so of Angeball.

And yet Wolves beat us essentially playing Mourinho- or Conte- Ball. Parking the bus between counterattacks on Ange’s high line. In Ange’s case, one is irresistibly reminded of that fellow Ralf Hasenhuttl’s defense at Southampton–and his eventual fate. At least all this Liverpool chatter will soon abate.

TBH every team we play now knows our weaknesses of which there are so many, exposed week after week. After 10 matches this season I started to convince myself we could actually win the league. I’m now starting to think we could struggle to get into the EUFA Conference League.

If we are comfortable playing interesting football but losing then let’s get some of our brilliant academy players in and lose with a bit of heart.

Suspect you’re right that every team now knows our system – up to Our Glorious Leader to discover the appropriate tweaks.

Ange needs a re-think with this system. In other leagues he has worked in that very high line will work because inevitably the leagues are slower and the quality isn’t as high in the premier league. We have to be the team that is the easiest to transition against. One missplaced pass and Wolves had acres in our channels. Even with the right personel in Udogie and Porro it happens where they invert. The premier league is unforgiving and patience is not exactly in abundance. If this continues it will not surprise me if our fans (who are not exactly the most patient) start to turn on him.

Fully in agreement (apart from hoping that the last sentence proves an inaccurate prognostication)

To me, the last two Saturdays are interchangeable. 3pm kick-off, Us in lilywhite, opponents really hard to break down. The only difference was the colours of the away team’s strip. Sure we got a result v Brighton (just) but it was an equally difficult watch.

Anyway, I have an idea. When under pressure but the ball safely in Vic’s hands, why does he not, once or twice, hoof it up field for our supposedly speedy forwards to run onto? I understand the argument against, BUT we were never going to break that Wolves defence down with intricate passing so what could be worse? Just a thought.

So now we have a two week gap until another Saturday 3pm kick-off. Shall I or Shan’t I? Of course I bloody will. QED (best I could do – was always bottom at Latin).

Re your first point: absolutely. There are only so many times we’ll get out of jail in added time.

Fully on board with the notion of occasionally encouraging Vicario to kick long, as much for the fact that it will keep the opposition guessing about a high press, and therefore taking a precautionary step or five backwards.

I would rather hope you shall!

Agree with having the occasional hoof too but I remember Ange got somewhat vexed with Hojberg for hoofing in one of the early games and it’s notable that he hasn’t hoofed since.

Pre-season, a Glasgow Rangers supporting chum opined that “the rest of the league will figure it out”. He’s a wise sage, and had witnessed gobs of Ange-ball, so the chin was stroked. Of course the rotter was right. If I set up to play against us it would look exactly like the Wolves plan – soak and break. We’ve got away with it regularly enough, but with a supporting defensive cast of Davies (slow) and Emerson (lazy) there HAS to be a plan B.

In 2 seasons at Celtic Ange won back to back premierships and league cups. The Rangers brains trust might be a bit on the slow side. So when we play the (few) footballing sides in the EPL we should set up Conte-style??? When are we going to move on? Listen to Ange – we are a work in progress – but the style is here to stay.

All in all Ange is the best manager for us and we need him more than he needs us. The mission is in early days, a few good signings in the summer and the high line next season will probably blow everyone away. COYS!

Comments are closed.