Spurs match reports

Newcastle 4-0 Spurs: Five Tottenham Talking Points

1. Our Defending for the First Goal

Odd to say now, or course – hindsight and all that – but for a third or so of the game (the first of them, in case you were wondering) I thought our lot looked pretty sharp. Newcastle started the game bursting at the seams with vim and vigour, which was understandable enough, and in such instances history tells us that Spurs are as likely to wilt as to respond in kind. It was therefore a most pleasant surprise to note that our lot had signed up for the former rather than the latter, and were doing a solid line in giving as good as they got.

Newcastle hounded away with their high press; our lot craftily dodged their hounding and high pressing, specifically by skipping away from challenges and firing out passes with a becoming crispness. When Newcastle nabbed possession from us and countered at a healthy lick, our lot raced back at a lick of equal velocity, and nascent flames were duly extinguished. We even fashioned the best chance of that opening half hour, and the AANP verdict at the 30-or-so-minute mark was that, if not necessarily of the highest quality, this was nevertheless close-run and fun-filed cuisine.

Of course the whole bally thing turned on and its head and disappeared down the drain with those first two goals. At which point I pause to air a grievance, because a two-goal deficit, while undoubtedly representing the deuce of an incline up which to go trudging, was nevertheless far from insurmountable. Two-nil, I rather fancy, is one of those score-lines possessed of devilish quality, in that whomever nabs the next goal tends to load up on momentum for the remainder. As such, had our heroes applied themselves sufficiently to fashion a presentable chance between approximately minutes 30 and 50, I’d have fancied us to make a decent stab of things thereafter. To see them instead simply meander through, rather than putting their backs into it, and then give up altogether dash it, after conceding the third, set the blood boiling like nobody’s business.

Back to those two goals conceded, and if you were to ask at whom the finger of blame ought to be directed, I would ask how many digits you had going spare. Those on telly-box duty seemed determined to lay it pretty thick all over Van de Ven. One understood the gist of course, the fellow’s curious but futile struggles against gravity being particularly eye-catching, but I was inclined to wave him an excusing hand. Perhaps I am too generous here, but it seems to that falling over is a bit of an occupational hazard in his line of work, rather than indicative of any major footballing deficiency.

I suppose one might argue that VDV brought it upon himself by racing back to his post too quickly, thereby quite literally setting himself up for a fall should a swift change in direction be needed, but I still bat it away as one of those things.

More culpable to the AANP eye were Messrs Udogie and Romero. Taken in order, Udogie had a preliminary bout to sink his teeth into, as the ball was hoicked up to halfway, and he and Gordon exchanged a few pleasantries. Frankly, at this point, with the ball bobbling up to head height and three of lilywhite (or skin-coloured atrocity) persuasion covering two attackers, one’s eyes would have popped out of the head if informed that within ten seconds the ball would have been in our net. And in fact, Udogie seemed to have got to the root of the matter and emerged triumphant, placing self between ball and Gordon, and looking to the future with sunny optimism – only to then take a tumble to earth for no good reason and under minimal contact.

This glaring error having been brandished for the watching world, the situation had darkened, for sure, but was hardly forlorn. Romero and VDV were left staring at the whites of the eyes of Gordon and Isak, and one would have fancied the chances of the former duo. It was not necessary for our pair to make off with the ball and dash up t’other end to score; the remit was simply to prevent any immediate danger from flaring.

Why, then, Romero went charging towards VDV’s man absolutely maddens me. There was really no need. VDV’s man, as the label suggests, was being closely monitored by VDV; but off charged Romero, and it was the work of an instant for Gordon (for thus do the documents of ‘VDV’s man’ state his legal name) to slip the ball into Isak. At this this point VDV recovered the ground and then fell, prompting that chorus of censure from the television studio; but to my mind those around him were equally complicit.

2. Our Defending for the Second Goal

As for the second, VDV’s ongoing to-dust-thou-shalt-return routine understandably reinforced him as the poster-boy of our defensive failings, but the real villain of the piece was undoubtedly Pedro Porro whose bizarre intervention set the blasted thing in motion.

If the early chapters of that particular scandal have slipped your mind they dashed well haven’t slipped mine, the gist being that a wayward clearance from Vicario towards our right was nodded back in our direction by a Newcastle head, presenting Master Porro with what might reasonably be described as a task for the to-do list, but hardly anything more demanding than that. In short, he had to reach a ball bouncing near the right-wing before an incoming Newcastle chappie, which task he accomplished without issue. All that remained was to deposit the ball into a location of minimal risk.

As such, the world was his oyster. Pretty much everywhere was an option, and pretty much anywhere would have sufficed. The stands, the atmosphere, over his head and back up the line – even booting it further in front of him and out for a corner would have been an odd, but low-risk choice. The one thing he needed to avoid doing was fashion a way to deliver the ball towards his own goal and into the lap of an opposing forward; but given the abundance of better and easier choices available, such an eventuality hardly seemed worth mentioning.

And yet. For reasons that a crack team of psychologists would struggle to fathom, Porro looped the ball back over the head of not only the oncoming Newcastle johnnie but also of Cristian Romero, who had quietly snuck up to the action to keep an eye on things. If Porro were attempting to lob the ball directly to Romero, he deserves to have the offending limb amputated and tossed into a river for such woeful technique, for instead of dinking the ball he put such mileage upon it that Romero atop a step-ladder would have struggled to reach it. If Porro were attempting to lob the ball back to Vicario, he needs his brain removed and given a pretty thorough examination, because it was pretty obviously a route steeped in danger and lit by flashing lights and blaring sirens.

Whatever his rationale, the ball then landed in the path of that Gordon blighter, after which VDV promptly rolled out his new party-trick and hit the deck once more, and in the blink of an eye, and the delivery of three glaring defensive faux pas, we were two down.

3. Vicario’s Distribution

You may have noticed that in narrating the genesis of that second goal, I made mention of Vicario’s dubious distribution, and while such things as isolated incidents can be excused with little more than an arched eyebrow and gentle reprimand, with the acknowledgement that even Homer nods, their occurrence in every blasted passage of play seems to merit a less forgiving once-over.

For this was not Vicario’s finest hour and a half with ball at feet. Even acknowledging that Newcastle made things difficult, by virtue of their high, collective press, our resident last-line spent pretty much the entirety of the game pinging the ball exclusively to opponents, stationed at different coordinates on the pitch, whenever he looked beyond his own penalty area.

My eyes may deceive, I suppose, for I did not observe with pen and pad in hand, diligently noting each successful and unsuccessful pass; but then one does not need pen and pad to detect a certain rumminess manifesting. And the sense that Vicario’s distribution was stinking the place out emerged at some point relatively early during proceedings and lingered until the conclusion.

In mitigation, as mentioned, Newcastle pressed, and whenever one of our lot misplace a pass I am always inclined to subject his teammates to an enquiring eye, to ask whether they might have done more to make space; but as a man whose strength is supposed to lie in the art of picking passes from within his own penalty area and facilitating this play-from-the-back gubbins, Vicario seemed to go about it with the air of one completely new to the past-time.

4. Our Defending at Corners

Not for the first time – and if any other Premier League manager has their wits about them it dashed well won’t be the last time either – our defending at corners represented not so much a chink in the armour as an absolutely enormous gaping hole through which absolutely anyone was welcome to wander, make themselves at home and have a free pop at our goal, safe in the knowledge that their exploits would remain entirely unimpeded for the duration of their visit.

Remarkably, when we defend corners we often do so with literally every member of the squadron pulled back into the penalty area; and yet despite this, every single Newcastle corner swung into that same, densely-populated penalty area seemed to be met by an unchallenged Newcastle head. The laws of physics should simply not allow this happen, and yet it did so repeatedly.

It suggests that there is a pretty critical flaw at the heart of our zonal marking system, for if all ten of the outfield mob, plus goalkeeper, are failing, under the zonal system, to get their heads to the deliveries first, then some different zones ought to be explored and pronto.

The only surprise in all this was that it took Newcastle so long to score from a corner – they had racked up well over a dozen by the time they did. It was bad enough yesterday, but augurs appallingly for the future, our complete inability to deal with corners suggesting that the only solution will be to try not to concede any more of them between now and the end of the season.

5. Werner’s Finishing

It’s possible that none of the above would have been an issue if Timo Werner knew how to finish. But I suppose that’s akin to suggesting that we would have won if we’d been allowed twelve players and were facing a team of children, some of whom were blindfolded (no doubt they would still have posed a threat at corners). The reality is that Timo Werner is very much part of the fabric, and by virtue of his position, remit and willing, as often as not will pop up in key goalscoring positions, to unfurl new and scarcely believable ways to mangle perfectly presentable chances.

It should be repeated and with a spot of emphasis that he pops up in goalscoring positions. This is to be applauded, and probably would be, and with some feeling, if he didn’t then appear quite so incapable of controlling his limbs at the vital juncture. But inviting crosses require arriving forwards, and Werner has some talent in that regard, arriving on the end of crosses like the best of them.

However, his treatment of Brennan Johnson’s early cross summed up better than a whole multi-tome thesis ever could quite how aberrant his finishing is. With the ball arriving at head-height, and no opposing defender blotting the horizon with their presence, Werner somehow managed so splay his limbs in every conceivable direction – an arm pointing here, a leg over there, his head doing its best to wobble from its moorings – and tumbling into view in this fashion it is hardly surprising that he failed to apply the delicate touch needed. As if to hammer home quite what a tangle he had got himself into, he concluded the operation by blasting the ball so high that it may have travelled vertically rather than diagonally or horizontally.

Later on in the piece, while the game was still goalless, our lot produced a lovely slick move on the left (a move that contributed to my thinking, at 0-0, that this was one in which we were capable of getting our noses in front), which culminated in Maddison beating his man and cutting the ball back into the six-yard box. And there, again to his credit, lurked Werner, demonstrating once again that admirable ability to sniff out goalscoring opportunity.

Alas, once again, as sure as summer follows spring, Werner’s sniffing of opportunity was followed by Werner missing a presentable chance, and while it was probably more difficult than the earlier opportunity, one can nevertheless make the case that a chap who’s spent his whole life being drilled in the art of kicking a ball into the precise spot of his choosing ought to have steered the blasted thing on target.

Make no mistake, however, this defeat was not down to Timo Werner and his finishing. The whole lot were rotten to the core. For all its virtues and for whatever talent lurks within the constituent parts, the Postecoglou Operation is evidently one that requires a considerable amount of further work.

Sharing is daring:

14 replies on “Newcastle 4-0 Spurs: Five Tottenham Talking Points”

Very disappointed. No mention of the midfield who others have castigated? Madders running too deep. Biss just going AWOL. The best comment I’ve seen on this was the parallels drawn between the early years of Klopp and Arteta. The 2 weeks off will need to be handled carefully. A now wounded Arsenal will exploit the same avenues as Newcastle. To err once is forgivable. To repeat those same mistakes means they chose.

Ange was downplaying the priority of getting into the Champions League last week and I was thinking the same by the end of this match. Imagine where we’d be now if we’d had that distraction to deal with alongside the Premier League? I think Ange’s problem is that the team were unstoppable up until November against Chelsea and since then we’ve not been able to recreate that form. We were also one of the last teams to concede from a corner. He probably needed a poor first few months with gradual improvement as we were all talking about winning the league back then! I think we’re all a bit mystified as this is pretty much the same team.

Quite! In truth I’m as bewildered as I am despondent at watching this dirge unfold each week. As you pithily capture, they’re the same players who got us to the top of the league, and for eons we didn’t concede from a corner. Consider me baffled.

Frankly our midfield baffles me, in that I’m not sure who is supposed to be doing what. Bissouma is nominally the chap protecting the back-four? Because he doesn’t. Is Bentancur a destroyer of opposition attacks, or a deep-lying playmaker, or something else? Maddison I understand occasionally dropping deep, in an attempt to stimulate attacking play from deep, but he might do better to ration such jaunts I suppose. At least I understand his purpose in the team though, and ditto Sarr, but I’m never really sure whether Bentancur, Bissouma and Hojbjerg are supposed to be offensive or defensive.

I also get the impression the players may be running out of steam – in spite of them only getting a half-game every week – I did not see the point of PEH coming on when the game was as good as gone – and he proceeded to play no positive role – much like the other changes in his defence (for once)

I appreciate how you add such poetic depth to the event, and how you have nailed every point I was making to my dog as I painfully watched that mess unfold. I especially like how you let VDV off the hook as there were so many that were responsible for the goals and he just happened to fill the void when the other were NOWHERE IN THE PICTURE (where was our midfield when Dest lost the ball?)

I will note that your analysis is a bit devoid of one thing that should be addressed: Ange is setting these guys up for failure when his offensive tactics don’t work. The one cross in the air to Johnson, which I agree MUST be headed, is one of the few (only?) crosses in the air I can remember that entire game. It seems that many/most/all opponents know that Spurs will try the grounded cross and many/most/every team generally deals with them nowadays. I’ve said it repeatedly, Ange MUST have a PLAN B, such as a Veliz or Scarlet in the box to put their heads through a ball in the air. If Ange doesn’t attempt something off his script, I can see every single one of our remaining games having these same problems.

Also, in relation to the above situation, Son has NOT been working out through the middle consistently for quite a while now. I don’t know if it was the 2nd or 3rd conceded goal that he lost it at the top of their box, and the floodgate opened. Yes, he still gets the odd goal and assist every now and then, but more often than not, he does not hold onto the ball when in a congested box, and he rarely attempts, let alone wins, a header.

All in all, I will continue to seek out your breakdown as it adds an interesting touch to mundane performances.

Agree, if I could have continued to warble on ad inifinitum after this one, I’d sooner or later have picked up on Sonny, as not the man to lead the line against pretty much anyone other than a side that itself defends on halfway. The honest fellow’s forte is in haring off towards the opposition goal, with the ball in front of him, rather than any sort of work with back to goal (he was indeed culpable for the loss of possession for two of their goals on Saturday). And he can’t head. Hadn’t previously noticed the point about our absence of headers, but it does appear to be a truth. I remain a huge fan of the overall mentality, of expansive football and living by the sword and whatnot, but egads some of the specifics need a good committee meeting.

Glad to welcome a new visitor to AANP Towers by the by, do stop in at any point.

Sonny should have been moved to the left to replace Werner at half-time – but who to fill the striker role – certainly not Johnston……we need to make a plan for the 9 position.
Although it smacks of sours grapes – I thought the referee was hopeless as well. Dan Burns pulled back Maddison in the first half – withouit the statutory yellow – a short time later he put in a high boot on Johnston (I think) – again no yellow – Maddison did get a yellow in the 2nd half for a simi;ar raised boot.

Generally well said but that cross was from Johnston to the hapless Werner.
VdV was only culpable for the 3rd goal imo – I didn’t understand why he moved away from Izak as he turned to chase. I still think we should be set-up to cover these breakaways – not leave it all to VdV – Romero was awaol most of the day – until trying to impose himself after the final whistle!
So glad you mentioned the young strikers being ignored. Scarlett should have been on the bench not Gil – he has been around long enough to be given an opportunity.

I think it’s right to bring a bit of joy to the board today – well done Spurs women’s team on getting to the cup final against ManU 🙂

TBH I was starting to wonder yesterday whether we should put the women’s team out for the remaining men’s games this season!

Come on chaps, all is not lost. Very disappointing for sure but well beaten by a better side. Hopefully after a two week break with Richi back, home advantage and Sonny restored to the left wing we can win our “cup final”.

Interestingly, Villa play twice more before we next put our boots on so we may well have secured fifth place by then!

Battered 7-0 by Newcastle and Fulham, just when we need to be accelerating? This suggests a pretty deep problem.

It’s basically simple. *You can’t win anything if you concede too many goals*.

In 2016/17 we came second with only 26(!) goals conceded all season – the best in the league. Since then the average has been well over 40 – we’re already on 49 this season (ie far worse than Everton). This is nonsensically bad.

Angeball is droll when it works, but it’s starting to look fundamentally irresponsible against mobile crafty PL teams (ie almost all of them).

Next season too we won’t get Top 4 after toiling on Thursday evenings in Kazakhstan. Hopeless.

Such good points well made, better than any of the offerings from paid pundits on the various airwaves… and none of them can match your Wodehousery. We should keep the faith for now… as one dearly beloved and greatly missed old Spur would say, it’s a funny old game – so who knows what the remaining fixtures will throw up. We are nothing if not unpredictable, and whatever happens, this season’s entertainment has been a marked improvement on what has gone before. The Newcastle game was a stinker… let’s leave it at that and hope for better things. The Big Man will work on tightening the defence and building the squad he wants in the summer.

Distinct feeling of deja vu, old bean. After a full year of the Rosie–er–the Postecoglou Project, one is hard pressed to see much difference beween his 0-4 performance and Stellini’s pitiful 1-5 result almost exactly a year ago. Aside, of course, from the presence of that Bounder Harry Kane to chip in the occasional goal or two, an act that seems to fill the rest of the Spurs team with all the frenzied, incompetent wonder of cargo-cult South Sea islanders. I love Ange Postecoglou. I believe in Ange Postecoglou. And no one will weep more noisily than I when, another year from now, he’s run out of town like a snake oil salesman in old-time small-town America. Because, like Professor Harold Hill, he doesn’t know how to coach–or perhaps he does, but merely refuses to. Either way, yesterday, his players were left standing about and waving their arms in the air and singing, “Da did da di dah, da di da…”

Comments are closed.