Spurs match reports

Spurs 3-1 Forest: Four Tottenham Talking Points

1. A Pretty Discombobulating Plot

If your route home from N17 yesterday evening was one of those ruminative ones then I can pop a comforting arm around your shoulders, remove the arm to pop a hand on the Bible in order to swear that I’m telling the truth, pop the arm back around your shoulders and assure you that you’re not alone. AANP, too, was thrown off kilter by the meandering and complex path our heroes took to their three points.

From the pretty comfortable opening, to the quite possibly complacent period leading up to half-time, to the sudden burst of second half inspiration, to the finale that neatly evaded any type of description altogether, the old grey matter just couldn’t fathom it out. It was like one of those dubious, award-winning foreign films one sometimes stumbles across, in which the plot leaps between genres and the characters change identities halfway through. In short, if anyone professed to knowing what was going on, they should blush with shame for the untruths they told.

Taking it chronologically, we started with admirable spunk. Forest provided a polite reminder that they are now a Nuno team, by pulling every available limb back into their own penalty area and daring us to make the game interesting. Admittedly the greatest chances of success came when we actually lost possession, prompting them to commit one or two bodies forward – at which point our lot cunningly won the ball back and had a fresh dart, but with fewer opposing limbs to negotiate.

All a bit convoluted, but the move with which we opened the scoring was pleasingly sharp, featuring quick passing in midfield and another of those moments in which Timo Werner’s undoubtedly good intentions actually manifested as a useful end product.

Thereafter, as was suggested by my Spurs-supporting chum Dave, our lot rather swanned around with the air of a regiment who were three goals up and drinking in the accolades, rather than a team that still had a good hour of elbow-grease ahead of them to ensure that the points were safe.

But for some unnecessarily wild flaying at the ball by that Chris Wood bimbo, we might have been in a spot of bother come the midway switcharound. I’d still have expected us to unearth a win from somewhere, but in that first half we were adding layer upon layer of complication to things, and unnecessarily so.

Even graver issues might have arisen if the arbiters of such irresponsible behaviour had cast a less generous eye upon James Maddison’s right to self-defence upon provocation. Whatever he did may have amounted to little more than pat on the tummy and some eye-catching amateur dramatics from the lad on the other side of the court, but if Maddison clenched his hand into a fist – and I’ll be dashed if the visual evidence clarifies things one way or t’other on that count – then he could have had few complaints about being ejected from the premises (as would have been the case for the other lad too, by the by).

Conventional wisdom has it that the introductions of Messrs Hojbjerg and Bentancur made the vital difference after half-time, and I suppose one can broadly go along with that, although I struggle to recall the specific good deeds demonstrated by either. Hojbjerg I did notice mopping things up in midfield, generally ensuring that if one of our attacks faltered and Forest tried to escape the shackles, he was on hand to pilfer possession straight back from them and set the lilywhite machine in motion once again. While others will presumably differ, I maintain it would be a stretch to say that either he or Bentancur bossed things, but we certainly had a bit more control with those two hovering about the place, so if one wants to fete the pair of them then they have my blessing (even if Hojbjerg did then try to undo his hard work by gifting Forest a couple of suicidal passes in the final knockings).

A purple patch briefly ensued, in which gaps appeared in the Forest setup and our lot pulled that old trick of nabbing a couple of quick goals before anyone had a chance to register what was happening, thereby changing the entire complexion of the game; and thereafter the final twenty or so passed pretty serenely, which as a lifelong Spurs fan used to the bedlam of a panicked finale, is always accepted gratefully but rather suspiciously.

So a satisfactory enough outcome, but by golly the convoluted plot was difficult to follow.

2. Werner

There are some of lilywhite persuasion who insist that Werner is a marvellous attacking asset; and others (known to have included amongst their number yours truly) who qualify this by suggesting that his outputs are a little predictable – and his finishing in Chris Wood territory – which I suppose means that the truth lies somewhere in between.

One could argue that the proof of the pudding is in his beating of a right-back and firing in a low cross that someone or other contrives to prod in, and he did that twice yesterday, albeit the second drew a point-blank save that rather upsets the narrative.

Now a pretty stirring argument could be made for the value of a winger who can lay at least one and possibly two goals on a plate per game, even if he spends the remaining 89 minutes idly inspecting the stands and whistling the theme tunes of cartoons from his homeland. The creation of two goals per game, the argument would continue, is a marvellous effort, irrespective of whatever else he might or might not contribute.

And yet, I do find myself emanating all manner of dissatisfied grunts and tuts when I watch the chap in action. I suppose it’s because for every one successful foray down the left, I do feel that we have to accept at four aborted (or otherwise ineffective) efforts, whether he sticks to the outside or tries his luck infield. I quite possibly do him a disservice – I certainly haven’t been keeping count of his efforts – but some sort of nameless frustration gnaws away, suggesting that he might utilise his talents just a mite more handsomely.

All that said, at £15m, he would be a solid squad member next season, quite the laddie for rotation and inspiring cameos. Nevertheless, I would hope that we throw four or five times that amount on a wide player upon whose forehead one can slap a post-it note on which is scribbled the word ‘Elite’, and who might usurp young Werner from the Starting XI.

3. Udogie

To err is human, what? Most weeks it is a pretty safe bet that when adjudicating the quality of the offerings on show, one reserves a particular word of praise for Destiny Udogie, making a point of emphasising how toothsome he was in reverse as well as on the front-foot. Commonly the driving force behind any left-of-centre surge over halfway, he is also generally an impressive barrel of meat and sinew when haring back into the conventional left-back spot.

Yesterday, however, he had a bit of a stinker. Most obviously, his dereliction of duty as Forest piled forward for their goal was a tricky one to excuse. Rather awkward, no, catching the golden boy red-handed? And yet there he was, clear as day, hand in the cookie jar, so to speak. The Forest fellow motored up alongside him and off towards the area, and young Udogie slowed to a halt and almost visibly shrugged. Difficult to fathom what went through his mind at that point, but ‘Chase the blighter’ it most certainly wasn’t.

Such things happen however, and while he had a slightly dreary time of it in other respects yesterday as well, by and large one can rely upon him, as well as VDV and Vicario, to prompt the approving nod. All things considered it is a stroke of luck that his dies horribilis happened on a day on which we crossed the finish line ahead and at a canter.

4. Our Goals

For all the mistakes and off-moments there were some pretty rip-roaring goals to wrap the thing up.

I was particularly glad for young Pedro Porro, as he never wants for enthusiasm when it comes to having a ping from the edge of the area, and he generally misses by not more than two or three whiskers. “One of these days,” I tend to mutter with a wry smile, as he goes through his curious post-miss routine of scratching his head like a man possessed and contorting his face into all manner of anguished expressions – also like a man possessed, truth be told.

Being blessed with the technique of a man who ought to earn a living in the more glamorous part of the pitch, it was particularly pleasing to see him catch a high volley sweetly enough to fly off into the top corner. Apparently the thing came off his shin, which does spoil an otherwise pleasingly thrill-packed little tale, but it hardly detracted from the aesthetic value, which is what really matters.

As for young Van de Ven, I have to confess to being most taken aback by his finish, travelling as it did with the velocity of an Exocet. ‘Who would have thought the young man to have had so much power in his left clog?’ was the refrain echoing around the place as we drank in the replays, for he certainly packed a bit of feeling into that effort.

As well he did too, for if he had joined the seemingly endless list of cast members overcome with a sense of altruism that inclined them to wave away the opportunity of a shot, and instead pass sideways for someone else, I do rather fear a vein in my temple might have exploded. One appreciates that sometimes the ball is received at an awkward angle or pace or whatever, but really the obsession with refusing to shoot when inside the area had far exceeded the realms of decency. Full marks then, to both Messrs Porro and VDV for straightening their priorities and swinging a leg like there was no tomorrow.

Sharing is daring:

15 replies on “Spurs 3-1 Forest: Four Tottenham Talking Points”

Yes, pretty sure big Ange told them “shoot on sight” after the West Ham debacle (a tad hyperbolic perhaps).

What frustrates me most at present is that we now have at least 3 or 4 players who can ping in wicked crosses but no-one, repeat no-one, gets to the near post to convert.

There, said it.

You make a fair point. I suppose Richarlison has a bit of previous on that front, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be Sonny’s game.

Great summing up as always AANP, I click through many times after every match desperately awaiting your pontifications (if that’s a word).

You got it spot on where the frustration lies – they need to be braver and take a shot. I wonder if they are less likely to do that knowing that all our players are in the opposition penalty area so they’ll end up having to race back at VDV pace if the shot doesn’t exactly hit the spot.

No complaints though, we nailed it and live to fight another day (which unfortunately will be up in the North-East next, please be good this time Spurs!)

Very kind of you Mr B. I did note that in the first half Bissouma had a few pops from range, didn’t amount to much but I was fully in favour. As you say though no major complaints.

I also read a lot of reports or comments while I waited to be able to watch the recording of the game on the website and as a result, was expecting to find a good reason why Sarr & Bissouma were dragged at half-time and to see how Hoijberg and Bentancur turned the game around. So like AANP I haven’t a clue how Ange worked out those changes – Bissouma had been very lively with 3 or 4 shots in the first 20 minutes, when we totally dominated (it definitely wasn’t a game of 2 halves as reported in some media outlets) and Sarr had played 2 key passes in the movement that produced our goal. They weren’t obvious changes in my opinion. Bentacur was a very positive influence as usual when he came on and was as good to watch as usual but I saw little to get me to change my mind about Hoijberg – he very nearly gifted Forest an equaliser. I was also thinking that I would have to eat a bit of humble pie about Werner – who got many accolades in the media reports – including ”brilliant” for his performance. So I was re-assured to read AANP’s assessment. With his first dribble I was stunned to see him cut inside onto his right foot but nothing came of it. He then reverted to his standard product – getting around the full back and banging in a low fizzing cross – once again finding a defender inept enough to score for us. There are a couple of basic problems with Werner – he doesn’t look up – he keeps his eyes firmly on the ball – and hence is unable to pick out a team-mate when he plays the ball into the danger area (maybe his team-mates should have realised where Werner plays that cross by now – although the defenders have worked it out and 2 have managed to get on the end of one). Secondly he is a bit lazy with his defensive duties – the Forest goal came from him allowing the full back to run away unhindered which dragged our back four 1 by 1 cross field to cover for him, leaving Porro on Wood without any other cover. It would have been a travesty for Maddison to be red-carded for his loss of composure – Yates is barely fit to clean Madisons boots and after eventually being booked for 4 fouls on Maddison in 10 minutes, should have seen a 2nd yellow and red for his gesticulations to the 4th official while prone on the grass after the so-called punch.

Well, quite. I’m not sure the difference, as much as there was one, was down to the change in personnel as much as the entire collective raising their level a notch or so, presumably having had a kindly half-time word from the Big Cheese.

And as for Werner, I’m going to attribute the ‘brilliant’ attributes to lazy journalism, looking purely at his Assist numbers rather than watching the chap throughout. I’ll keep any eye peeled next time out for the tendencies you note – not looking up, eyes only for the ball.

Curious/anxious to see Kulusevski on that left flank.
Your comment on the hope of our recruitment team shelling out about 70 million of the essential stuff to bring in an elite winger sparked a bit of intrigue in me: how many wingers in the world right actually now fit that bill?
After scratching the head a bit, I looked up several lists and rankings. Jadon Sancho made some of them. Dejan Kulusevski made top 10 in just about all of them.
In summary, there aren’t many top, reliable injury-free wingers in the world at present who aren’t named Vini Jr, Mohamed Salah, Dembele, Saka or Sane, neither of which we can imagine making the switch. The others play in other leagues and have several conspicuous question marks over their heads, while the shinier clubs are already heavy on the case of the remainder.
We should probably make the most of what we’ve got.

Fair point. The onus therefore reverts to Ange and the Brains Trust to devise some devilish tactical combinations in the wide areas amongst our current personnel that tear to shreds full-backs and those around them. On which note I was intrigued to read a line from Eric Dier earlier today, along the lines that Ange doesn’t really go in for the tactical stuff on the training pitch (I may well have paraphrased/taken out of context/somehow otherwise gummed up that translation).

The wearetottenhamtv YouTube crew say Athletico Madrid’s Nico Williams has a 43m release clause. Add 15 for Timo and for the price of one Richy we’d have the left hand side wrapped up. Also intrigued as to where this Bergvall (?) is going to fit in.

Bergvall feels like a 6 or 8. Will be assessed in the pre-season and then the decision will be made as to whether he joins the u21s or fights for a place in the senior squad.

The Bilbao guy looks okay too.

‘Discombobulating’ is one way to describe it. I go for ‘horrible’ for some 40% of the match. Bewildering inability to pass the ball to a team-mate and drained-away ambition and energy across the pitch.

See their goal. Why do BOTH Bissouma and Udogie simply stop running back, if only to help clear up a possible stray ricochet?

Tragic Kulu was really poor when he finally appeared – seemed to have no idea what to do or how to do it. Son tries hard in the middle but his hold-up play is even closer to zero than his heading. Werner had huge amounts of space, no doubt because they rightly suspected that most of the time he’d do nothing much with it.

All of which said, the good bits were very good. VdV a force of nature, Maddison slick and hard-working, and some very sharp passing. Just do that for, say, 80% of a game instead of less than half of it and we might get somewhere. And play Bentancur from the start: he really adds something different.

Bentancur and Maddison don’t seem fully recovered from their respective injuries as yet and neither have set the world alight for me in the last few games.

Something to look forward to next season I guess.

Boradly agree with pretty much all of that, and would add that Sonny lacks the physical presence of a bona fide main central forward (obviously). Glad you mentioned Maddison’s sharp passing – wouldn’t say he’s the same player as at the start of the season, but there are flashes.

Comments are closed.