Black & White Riot At White Hart Lane?
This week has been a very public week for Tottenham Hotspur. Who would have thought that a goalless draw between Everton and Spurs on a Sunday lunchtime in Liverpool would create such a worldwide media storm?
After Romelu Lukaku kneed Hugo Lloris in the napper last weekend, everyone except Sports Direct News, the Society of Black Lawyers and the Judean People’s Front has had their say on Tottenham’s selfishness, from Fifa’s chief medical officer: “The player should have been substituted”, to World players’ union Fifpro medical adviser: “Fifpro condemns that the health and safety of players are left to coaches/trainers or even to players themselves”.
Football show poodle Robbie Savage had his say on the BBC Sport website, writing in crayon that Spurs, enjoying their best ever start to a PL season, wouldn’t win the league title because the Lilywhites “lack creativity” and “did not try hard enough” to win the game against Everton,unbeaten at home since March. If you had the misfortune to read the piece you will have learnt at least one thing: that the Government Coalition’s jihad to expel all financial wastage from the public sector is simply not working if nurses don’t get a pay rise this year but mince-brained Savage gets a four figure sum for telling us that Spurs are “too cautious” to win a league they didn’t think they could win anyway. So this week everyone is trying to kick, or knee, the Cockney when he is down and as Geordies it is our duty to join in. Today The Mag tells the world how NUFC will beat Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
What Are Spurs Good At:
They are good at defending. Spurs have conceded only 5 goals and kept 7 clean sheets in 10 games this Premier League season, 13 clean sheets in 18 if you include the cups. The Spurs defence seems to be greater than the sum of its parts, with the exception of Jan Vertonghen, none of Tottenham’s defenders are exceptional players and none, including the Belgian, are individually top class defenders so how have they become such a unit?
One reason is that they have played regularly this season. Injuries to Rose and Kaboul have meant that generally Spurs have chosen a back line from 5 players, even in the Europa League. This defence of Walker, Dawson, Chiriches and Vertonghen is likely to continue on Sundayand just like NUFC two seasons ago, a good start to the season is built on a consistent back line. As well as consistency, Spurs back four play to their strengths. They hold a high line with Lloris behind them prowling the edge of his penalty area like a Mackem outside Greggs five minutes before opening time and his quick off the line mentality allows Spurs to play a higher line than the pace of their centre halves would suggest.
In midfield Spurs have an outstanding array of similar ball playing midfielders who all like to run into the penalty area with the ball and the wide players all like to join in and cut inside and shoot. In his senseless BBC waffle Savage criticised Spurs for shooting from outside the box too much, saying “Seven out of their 10 efforts on goal before half-time came from outside the area.” So they had 10 efforts on goal away from home in the first half against a top 6 team? Not a bad effort if you ask me. Up front Spurs always play with a lone striker, generally top scorer Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard is an expert penalty area finisher and although he has scored only one goal from open play so far this season, he is a team player outside of the area and dynamite inside it, even if he likes a tumble or two too much for me.
What Are Spurs Bad At:
They are not great at scoring goals, with only 9 goals in 10 games this season they are hardly prolific but most of those goals are match winners, one goal in a game isn’t much but is usually enough. Tottenham’s main goalscoring problem has come because they have many options of a similar type but not much variety. With Adebayor out because of a nasty huff injury they have no height in attack and rely on midfielders running into the box, wide men cutting inside and shooting and penalties to get goals. Except for Aaron Lennon, the wide men prefer to cut inside but often it is pointless doing anything else, a cross from the bye-line is usually Soldado or bust .
That lack of height generally runs through the team and Spurs are defensively vulnerable to set-piece plays into the box against bigger and stronger teams. One of the important side-effects of Danny Rose’s early season injury has been that Spurs have moved Vertonghen to left back meaning they can play three big defenders at the back instead of two, but Vertonghen isn’t as quick as Rose and this means they are more vulnerable to the counter attack. As Spurs push forward at home, they often leave only two men back and a big gap appears between those two central defenders, something forwards with pace have been able to exploit. Hugo Lloris likes this high line but rushing off his line has caused the French goalkeeper problems, not just getting booted in the head.
Spurs main problem at home this season this season has been the lack of atmosphere, perhaps the community buffoonery during the Tottenham riots two years ago have worn them all out or maybe the looters stole the atmosphere. Even manager AVB has called home atmosphere “difficult”, “negative” and creating “almost no support”, but to be fair to the Spurs fans, the best way to defend against Tottenham’s style of play is to pack men behind the ball and deny Spurs space near the goal. Defending like this is hard to score against and not much of a spectacle for the home fans to get excited about.
How Can We Beat Them:
In ‘masterminding’ the 3-0 victory at The Lane earlier this season, self-proclaimed genius Sam Allardyce could hardly control his jowls as he told everyone his “false number 9” tactics beat Spurs. In reality, a team like West Ham were the perfect unit to capitalise on Spurs lack of height, with Wimbledon of 1995 and the Harlem Globetrotters not available in North London that day. Spurs missed chances and started to tire; West Ham hit them with a header from a set-piece and then ran through the middle for two more late in the game. It wasn’t a “false number 9” which beat Spurs, a tactic which Allardyce has used every week since and it hasn’t worked at all, it was stout defending deep in your own half, quality of set-pieces and pace in attack which won the game. And a large slice of luck along the way.
If we are to win at The Lane we must get behind the ball with discipline, track midfielders running into the box, force their wingers wide and deny Soldado space in the area. When we get the ball we need to break quickly with through balls onto the feet of a pacey striker and make the most of set-pieces we get with good delivery into the box to capitalise on any height advantage we have.
Alan Pardew may decide that Shola’s extra height would be an advantage but if it is, he needs a quick striker alongside Ameobi in a 4-4-2, perhaps sacrificing the midfield width of Gouffran for the more defensively resilient Anita. If Pardew plays a lone striker, it has to be one with pace rather than one with height, with a creative player behind him to pick out the through ball passes. That could be Ben Arfa or Cabaye in a 4-4-1-1 with the possibility of Coloccini or Sissoko partnering Tiote in a deep midfield to provide the extra defensive cover and height at set-pieces. If Alan Pardew gets his tactics right, there may be a riot going on in Tottenham on Sunday, but it won’t be a White Riot, it’ll be a Black and White riot.
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