Spurs match reports

Spurs 2-1 Burnley: Four Tottenham Talking Points

1. Left-Back: Skipp

A penny for Emerson Royal’s thoughts, what? Truth be told, the lad seems to harbour such delusions of his own ability, genuinely convinced that no finer player than he ever trod the earth, that he probably viewed the selection of Skipp as a means of protecting him for the City game on Tuesday.

Skipp it was then, following a steady cameo at unorthodox left-back vs Liverpool. I suppose there cannot be many footballers it’s easier to tell apart than Oliver Skipp and Destiny Udogie, and these differences evidently stretch beyond merely physical appearance. Where Udogie is partial to a gallop from within halfway to the edge of the opposition penalty area – with or without the ball – Skipp is evidently a bit more reserved about the whole business.

Skipp is no doubt the sort who, when crossing a road, will look right, left and then right again – because one can never be too sure – and he brought this attitude of good common sense, with a dash of the old ‘Safety First’, with him into the arena yesterday. That is to say he seemed happy enough to venture forward over halfway and well into enemy territory, but only once sure that the back-door was locked first. More Ben Davies than Destiny Udogie, I suppose one might say – and as fourth- or fifth-choice, and still finding his feet in the role, that was no bad thing.

The one shame about his performance was that for the goal we conceded he paid rather cruelly for the briefest lapse of concentration. If any of the sticklers amongst you has ever queried precisely how long a “split-second” lasts, I’d suggest rewinding footage of yesterday’s Burnley goal and casting an eye upon young Skipp when the move is at its genesis, as for the briefest duration – a split-second, if you will – he gazes at the ball and the ball only, subconsciously taking a step or two towards it and rather letting drift from his mind the existence of that Brun Larsen fellow behind him. And that, alas, was all it took.

The B.L. nib had a yard advantage, and unlike Skipp was facing towards our goal, when the foot-race started, factors that did much to seal the deal. Ultimately, to use a sentiment that I suspect will one day be the epitaph on Skipp’s Tottenham career, while his honest endeavour could not be faulted he just did not quite make it.

As an aside, I did note something similar last week, when Skipp chased the shadow of Mo Salah for 20 yards before the latter deposited the ball in the net – but on that occasion the flag was raised. To this day it is unclear to me whether Skipp was actually in the wrong position, or whether Salah escaped him precisely because he had the unfair offside advantage. Either way, it would be understandable if our boy is yet to master some of the finer positional intricacies of the role – and let’s face it, that Skipp is even in the frame when these desperate sprints from halfway begin is something of an improvement, given that Porro and Udogie have spent the whole season being caught a good ten yards further up the pitch.

2. Left-Back: Van de Ven

So apart from his involvement in the goal conceded – or lack thereof, I suppose – Skipp’s afternoon passed without too much drama, either in terms of Emerson-esque moments to infuriate or Udogie-esque moments to take the breath away. The plot thickened like the dickens on 75 minutes however, when Skipp was replaced by Dragusin, who duly gave a Skipp-esque performance low on items of note, and the consequent re-jig saw young Van de Ven shoved over to the left.

AANP being a laid-back sort of egg, I took in this sorcery with an accepting enough nod; but for some amongst the tribe the move of VDV to left-back was evidently pretty sensational stuff. To update those who just watch the football and don’t pay too much attention to the noise, there has been a pretty rowdy minority waving placards and thrusting petitions about the place which have called for precisely this rearrangement in the absence of Udogie. “Give Dragusin a chance at centre-back,” goes the catchy refrain, “and more to the point let’s see Van de Ven at left-back, given that the chap is lightning quick, pretty comfortable on the ball and left-footed.”

So when the relevant stars aligned at minute 75 yesterday there was some pretty gleeful hand-rubbing going on about the place, as VDV At Left-Back campaigners got their wish. And lo, our newly-minted Best Performing Old Bean (and Best Performing Young Bean, to give him his full list of accolades) rose to the occasion like an absolute pro. Having provided a couple of immediate hints that he was in the mood, by gamely exploring the higher echelons of the left touchline, the manner in which he took his goal was enough to clasp the hand to the forehead and mutter a pretty meaningful “Golly.”

The fact that VDV was where he was in the first place, in order to avail himself of Maddison’s pass, spoke volumes. Maddison received the ball 10 yards north of the centre circle, and VDV was another 10 yards north of him – occupying what hearty traditionalists of good sense and sound mind might call an inside-forward sort of spot, in between Son out on the left and Scarlett in the centre.

To give it a different translation, he was in precisely the sort of position one would expect of Udogie on his more adventurous days, and as Maddison rolled the ball towards him he scuttled off in between the lines, as the knowing sorts like to say, into that space between Burnley’s midfield and defence that is guaranteed to cause looks of consternation to be passed around between them like a hot potato.

Having the gumption even to pop up in these environs I thought spoke volumes about the chap’s grasp of the role requirements and eagerness to partake of the attacking aspects of the binge; but then to collect the ball in his stride, skip past three quarters of their defence and finish the thing off was an absolute triumph, and wildly out of keeping with our laboured efforts in front of goal for something like the last six months.

In particular, I was rather taken by the dip of the shoulder that left the various Burnley sorts pirouetting on the spot like malfunctioning robots in need of instruction and direction, followed by the coup de grace, a remarkably thoughtful directioning of his shot one way when it looked for all the world as if nature was gently coaxing him to shoot the other way.

The usual caveats apply I suppose – only Burnley, only fifteen minutes – but it was a spot of quality the like of which we have sorely missed in the final third, and it poses quite the head-scratcher for Our Glorious Leader ahead of City on Tuesday. VDV at left-back is one thing, and as auditions go, this was one to file in the ‘Flying Colours’ category; but the whole issue also hinges on the delicate matter of whether that Dragusin chap would therefore be able to handle about eighteen foot of Haaland lumbering about the place.

3. Romero

Football is, of course pretty reactionary sort of guff these days. I mean to say you can’t lob a brick without hitting someone who insists that a current player is the best there’s ever been, and that there is nothing to a game beyond goals and assists, and generally peddling the slightly Orwellian line that there’s no point harking back a bit because football didn’t exist back then. And in keeping with this train of thought is the notion that the stand-out defenders are the ones who scored, because nothing else matters.

AANP does not go in for this mode of thinking, and as such will quite happily place neatly to one side the fine finishes of both Messrs VDV and Porro (who, to his credit, leathered his goal like an absolute missile – and then, fuelled by adrenaline, spent the remainder shooting at every opportunity). The standout chappie for my money was young Romero. The other pair may have each had their eye-catching moment, but Romero seemed to excel throughout.

Admittedly he did not have a great deal to do at the back, one early block being pretty much the sum of it, as Burnley pottered about fairly cluelessly throughout, but coming forward I thought he became an increasingly useful cog. He picked passes, ran with the ball and ran usefully without the ball, and generally contributed strongly to the improved second half performance of the collective.

A few inches this way or that and he might also have created a goal for Sarr and nodded one in himself, but all things considered I had him down as the pick of a pretty decent bunch. He will have sterner defensive tests to come – not least on Tuesday night – but that attacking string to his bow was put to mightily handy use yesterday.

4. A Welcome Upturn

Much-needed stuff in the end, both in terms of result and performance. No doubt it helped to play literally a Championship team, Burnley being pretty poor in every respect, but nevertheless, one can only do one’s best against the fodder placed in one’s way, and our heroes created plenty of chances in the second half in particular.

There were some much improved individual performances too. As ever one cannot escape too far from the clutches of the caveat that it was only Burnley, but it was good to see Maddison potter about the place with a dash more meaning than in recent weeks, and Bentancur similarly looked about more clued up when he trotted on, while Kulusevski improved after a dreary first half, and Johnson took up enough good positions to have scored a fairly straightforward hat-trick.

I was also impressed by young Scarlett, as much as anything else for simply giving us a bona fide focal point in attack as we pushed for the winner, even if he himself did not necessarily make too many seismic contributions.

The whole gang of them bucked up in the second half, albeit added aided throughout by Burnley’s pretty loose and liberal interpretations of playing out from the back, but as mentioned, and after a run of four defeats, one simply takes the win with a murmur of appreciation.

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17 replies on “Spurs 2-1 Burnley: Four Tottenham Talking Points”

Do we think VDV and Romero had a brief tete a tete and decided between them to haul the whole darned team up and show the flashier cavalier types upfront how they want things to be? See Timo? Smack it like this!

Ha, yes every time I see a sweetly struck finish I do wonder how on earth it’s so difficult for poor old Timo

Look, the reality here is that a Manager picks the team, and that picking process should rightfully be based on what set up the team should play and who is the best person for each position. I will never second guess the Manager for deciding a particular set up, but honestly, the selections of “best person for each position” in the past few games has beggared belief eg Son as striker instead of left wing, Royal as wing-back instead of just about anyone else in the team etc.

I was one of the many that suggested VDV on the left and (pricy unused) Dragusin in the centre after the Chelsea match – Ange must be following me I guess 🙂

All we now need is for Arsenal to get beat tonight, Aston Villa beaten tomorrow and a win against ManC for us Tue. The stars might then truly align for us on the final day.

Credit where due on the VDV shout – I was amongst the mob who dismissed the concept…

It feels quite depressing that our defenders are appearing better at attacking than our attackers.
It may or may not be a slight exaggeration (I’m leaning towards the latter), but one thing is clear: we need some worldclass new faces round the place come next season.
Also, it’s clear that Biss is still hurting from having been red-carded twice this season, he just won’t make any tackles!

Ha good point on Bissouma. I wonder if he’s under orders from above.

I think it would be worth keeping Biss on for another season to see if he can recreate what he did before he lost his mojo.

For me though these must go:
– Emerson
– Davies
– Timo
– Emerson again (just to be sure)
– Gill (we all hoped for so much)
– Richarlison
– Ndombele (why not just pay him to go?)
– Rodon
– Skipp
– Hojberg
– Vicario (we need a much more meaty keeper when doing the Ange-Ball stuff)

More controversial, if we’re not playing Son on the left then there’s no point having him on the pitch.

I’ve always wondered about Lo Celso and would love to see him get an extended run.

Sessegnon could probably go but I’m not sure he’ll ever get fit enough to sell.

We have about 15 out on loan too, must be some I’ve missed.

Discuss 🙂

At least two (Rodon and Ndombele) I forgot we still owned. I’d probably add Tanganga at this point too (he’s now 25!)

Still unfathomable that we paid Lamela PLUS however much million (£20m?) for Gil

Sonny is an interesting shout, don’t mind him up top for 15 mins against a high line, but otherwise he has to be on the left. Worth keeping for that though, I’d have thought.

And Vicario will be kept, being an Ange signing. I’d be quite happy to keep him and just beef him up a tad, in the same way that one summer Gareth Bale returned looking decidedly meatier.

Yeah, we loved Lamela too. Tanganga totally slipped my mind, I pray Millwall will do the right thing and end our misery during the summer. Also don’t forget Reguillon, Spence and Parrot.

At least we no longer need to worry about Sanchez and Dier – there is a God out there.

I’ll stick my neck out here and beg Levy to spend the (meagre) proceeds from this bunch on getting Harry back – OMG he would have been the difference for us this season.

Announced this morning:
“Millwall have agreed a deal to sign on-loan English defender Japhet Tanganga, 26, on a permanent transfer from Tottenham. (Mirror)”

Just 14 more left to sell (or sack) ?

Unfortunately AANP, I must disagree with you a tad. Yes, we got a result but it was pretty poor fayre (is that how you spell it?). I thought both Kulusevski and Johnson were dreadful. Only when Sonny switched to the left did we dare or do.

However, the main reason I am posting today is to big up the under 21s. They play glory, glory Spurs football. PL2 Cup final on Thursday v Fulham and then Chelsea in the PL2 play off semi final. Fantastic players, a must watch. Be there or be an equi angled quadrangle!

100% on U-21’s – I really believe we have some potentially star PL players – but it’s not just about what we see on the pitch. Let’s hope Ange takes serious interest in close season and brings a few into next year’s squad and chooses sensible loan clubs for a few more. The U-18’s are an equally excellent team with talent and character. Mikey Moore has been on 1st team bench for the last 2-3 games and is an outstanding talent hopefully he can transition over the next couple of years

I thought the midfield was operating back at the standard – likewise the defence but as you say Kulusevski and Johnston were right off it

Given the appalling number of goals we’ve shipped this season, it’s odd that the Player of the Season contender list features Vicario, Romero, VdV, Porro and no-one much else? Otherewise Sarr has done well in his first full gallop, as has Udogie. Madders started well then vanished. Ditto Bissouma. Lo Celso vanished from the start, for no obvious reason. But the attacking end of the pitch has been pretty lame. So annoying.

Ange looked like he had given up tonight after the ManC match. He has become a tad vexed recently so perhaps he is now realising the sheer enormity of the task he has.

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