Tottenham Hotspur scuffled a bit over the Premier League’s busy holiday period. Aside from back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Leicester City they also dropped points in draws to Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham. Despite this poor run to end 2020, Tottenham remain in a good position in the table.
It has been a wild Premier League season thus far. No team seems to be able to take charge at the top of the table, with everyone struggling to maintain consistency. The standings are tight in the top half, and a good run of results could easy propel Spurs back up into true title contention.
Tottenham Hotspur Still in Good Position Despite Recent Slip-Ups
Spurs’ main issue this season has been a recurring one: letting leads slip late and turning wins into draws. A combination of failing to add to a one-goal lead and poor handling of defensive set-pieces have stolen a minimum of eight points from this side. In most of these occasions, the goal that erased Spurs’ lead was scored after the 75th minute. Conservative tactics and poor marking on set pieces have been the main culprits.
Mourinho’s men have also had chances to kill games off in attack but failed to do so. There are issues to sort out on both ends of the pitch, but Tottenham are still in good shape at the midway point of the campaign.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have carried this squad’s attack through the first half of the season. Each of these stars has been playing at a Player of the Year type of level through 18 matches.
Kane has been nearly unstoppable this season, with double-digit goals and assists. He has evolved into one of the best footballers in the world. His combination of clinical finishing and pinpoint passing is something few players can match.
Son began the season on fire, scoring at will and benefitting the most from Kane’s vision and distribution. His runs and finishing have made Spurs lethal on the counter at times this season. The South Korean has also taken over the corner kick duties, providing a few assists himself. The pair have scored 24 of Tottenham’s 33 league goals this season.
Step it Up
While the potency of the Kane and Son has been a joy to watch for Spurs fans this season, this team needs the goal contributions from the rest of the squad to increase.
Tanguy Ndombele is third in the squad in goals with three. He scored a brilliant goal to secure three points on Sunday against Sheffield United.
Right-back Serge Aurier is the only other player with more than one goal. The rest of the attack force needs to pitch in so that the full goal-scoring burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders of Kane and Son.
The likes of Gareth Bale, Steven Bergwijn, and Lucas Moura need to find their shooting boots. An extra goal here or there could’ve put Tottenham out of sight in some of the matches where they dropped points late.
Switch Things Up
Another option would be to have Carlos Vinicius on the pitch at the same time as Kane. The Brazilian striker has shown good goal scoring form in cup ties since arriving on loan. However, he hasn’t seen much action in the Premier league setting.
Kane is the team’s best passer, so dropping him a little deeper and allowing Vinicius to lead the attacking line could be an option that needs to be explored. Some of this again falls on the conservative tactics by Mourhino. He has failed to make changes that would push Spurs towards putting teams away with extra goals.
Spurs have shown they are susceptible to losing late leads. Switching to a more aggressive mindset with earlier subs or more attacking combinations needs to be looked at. Only three players aside from the dynamic duo up top have even attempted double-digit shots in 18 matches. That is not good enough considering the depth of attacking talent in the squad.
The failure to kill games off with a second or third goal has come back to bite Spurs far too often during this campaign. While the finishing and variety in attack is certainly an issue, there is blame to lie elsewhere as well.
Tottenham remain the best defence in the league in terms of allowing goals from open play. However, they have been beaten by set-pieces far too often. There are multiple factors that go into those failures.
First, tactically, Spurs have allowed too much pressure from opponents when trying to defend a one-goal lead. This team can be lethal on the counter, so sitting back can be beneficial, but they have taken their foot off the gas a bit too much in certain matches.
Sitting back in a defensive shell also leads to allowing opponents too many chances to create a goal. Far too often an equalizer has felt inevitable as Tottenham have sat back. The mounting pressure for long stretches allows too many chances for a defensive mistake or a needless challenge that leads to a set-piece. Spurs have fallen victim to this in most of the cases where they dropped points late in the match.
Even with their imperfections, Tottenham remain right in the hunt during this unpredictable Premier League season. Spurs sit in fifth, just four points behind the leaders.
They have been excellent at scoring early, but have struggled to build or hold onto those leads. A combination of more clinical finishing and better defending on set pieces and they can jump right back into a title challenge.
With the way this season has unfolded thus far, anyone that can string together a run of victories has a chance to vault up the table. Spurs have Liverpool and Chelsea at home over their next three games. Fresh off a 3-1 victory, now is a good time to build some momentum and make a statement about their title chances.