Inside the Opposition: Tottenham Hotspur

Both City and Tottenham come into this game following recent disappointment and both will want to correct that in Saturday’s early kick off. In many ways Spurs are a team who are completely unpredictable so this should be an interesting start to the weekend…

We talked to Spurs fan Elliot to get some more information on Spurs. Elliot can be found on twitter here talking about Spurs, how much he dislikes football fan tv channels and dogs here.

Spurs had what looked like a classic “Spursy” summer window where the club had a fairly large player turnover but still managed to leave potentially fatal holes in the squad. How are the new signings settling in? And are the holes in the squad as large as they might appear?

We knew the high turnover was inevitable from the outset – a lot of excuses had been made for Pochettino last season, having inherited a squad of such haphazard conception we saw Hugo Lloris and Paulinho play together.  Tottenham had three goals of equal priority this summer: trim a bloated squad, keep hold of Lloris (Kane departing was never a possibility), and add a few quality players in each third of the team.  The trimming was unexpectedly a success, we received (relatively) good fees for Paulinho, Kaboul and Capoue which demonstrated Levy’s willingness to take a loss, something he had lacked previously. Lloris staying will prove of huge significance, his astonishing save against Bakary Sako in our last league game was worth two points.

 

Toby Alderweireld is the defensive signing we should’ve made years ago, palpably improving our defence and is extracting the best form seen from Vertonghen in years.  It is only the beginning of Dele Alli’s career in the top flight, yet the level of both his performances thus far and his tangible confidence makes it scarcely believable that he is still a teenager. Heung-Min Son has brought a long lost directness back to White Hart Lane, much to the relief of fans who had become accustomed turgid, formulaic play that utterly contradicted a proud history of entertaining style. Spurs’s habitual transfer saga this year involved Saido Berahino, our failure to sign him continues to be a huge disappointment and leaves Harry Kane again as our only true striker.

There seems to be a lot of “Pochettino Out” talk from the usual suspects but from the outside he looks to be doing a decent job. The midfield and defence mostly appear to be getting better (including the introduction of the likes of Ryan Mason) and things seem to be a bit more stable behind the scenes. Is this a fair view?

On every issue in football there is a full gradient of opinion and Pochettino’s perceived success is no different.  Mauricio was recruited as manager with a briefing to promote youth where possible in the lull before our move to a new stadium – the board have told the Supporters’ Trust that they will look to combine academy products with purchases in the £10-15million bracket.  In this respect it’s hard to say Pochettino has not been successful, Kane’s famous season notwithstanding, his development and integration of Bentaleb and Mason has been extremely encouraging. Our integration of academy products continues in earnest this season, with Tom Carroll already featuring and Alex Pritchard expected to be involved with the first team once he returns from injury. My main concern with Pochettino is his tactical inflexibility in games; his stubbornness in making timely substitutions or formation changes can be extremely frustrating — often forfeiting points against weaker teams aware of our inability to overcome a whole-team defensive performance.  MP has also shown, on occasion, poor judgement in choosing a team.  His team selection in our last game against Arsenal enraged a majority of Spurs fans, and it wasn’t the first time after starting Soldado and Davies against Fiorentina last season achieving a similar result.



Ultimately Pochettino is the man for Tottenham at the moment, for the first time in years it genuinely feels like every level of the club is pulling in the same direction, with the same ethos.  His introduction, and nurturing, of youth players has restored a sense of connection with a team plagued with mercenary signings.  I hope he continues to develop as a manager, as he does seem to be tactically naive, but thus far I would say he is doing a very decent job.

Hugo Lloris staying put must be a huge boost to the team and the fans. That alongside the additions in defence is intriguing. City, and Aguero especially, have made a habit out of scoring quite freely against Tottenham. Are those days over or does the defence still have a way to go?

If anyone can stop Aguero scoring it’ll be Lloris.

(…? – ed.)

The frenchman is benefitting from playing behind a much more functional defence this season.  Alderweireld, as I touched on earlier, has been fantastic thus far and is extracting good form out of other defenders, but it’s hard to feel confident in the face of City’s attacking set of players.  This fixture will prove, by far, our biggest defensive test this season so it’s hard to know whether we should brace for another 5-1 romp or whether our sound defensive performances will continue.

Who’s the main attacking threat we should be on the lookout for? Is it still Harry Kane or does his slow start to the season mean we should be looking elsewhere this weekend?

Heung-Min Son is taking to English football impressively well, with three goals in his last two games, and has given our attack another dimension so I would nominate him. Harry Kane is yet to score but does not look to be letting that affect his confidence, so write him off at your peril.

Spurs Fan TV – good or bad?

What kind of person looks at Arsenal Fan TV and decides to emulate that?

Predicted lineup?

Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Alli; Chadli, Eriksen, Son; Kane.

Thanks again for answering our questions, Elliot, and good luck tomorrow…

Interview by Alex Timperley

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