Tottenham’s inability to grind out results when holding onto a slim lead has cost them to a lot of points. To be precise, Tottenham squandered 20 points from winning positions last season. Despite being quite good at comebacks Tottenham have fared poorly when defending leads. The lack of experience in midfield and substituting off wrong players whose defensive contribution is significant has led them to concede late in the game.
As was clearly visible, Mousa Dembele’s experience and his underrated ball-winning ability were clearly missed the last few matches of the Premier League. With the style of football Spurs play, a young and inexperienced midfield could make them vulnerable on the counter, on the occasion of a sudden dispossession. Wanyama’s signing is a welcome addition which could potentially help Tottenham remedy their defensive susceptibility in the absence of Mousa Dembele when played along Dier even if it’s at the cost of decrement in the number of bodies up ahead. The two recent preseason games against Juventus and Atletico Madrid gives us a brief insight of what a signing Wanyama could turn out to be and the also the fact that Pochettino has got the perfect man he would have wanted at Spurs.
Pochettino also got some of his substitutions wrong this season. Taking off Erik Lamela, Dele Alli and Harry Kane for Nacer Chadli, Tom Carroll and Heung-Min Son (not necessarily one for the other) has cost Tottenham dearly. Tottenham has committed a lot of fouls up field which has been a backhanded tactic in an attempt to stop opposition’s game flow. Any complacency in the tactical pressing renders the whole exercise of pressing ineffective which is what has happened with Nacer Chadli on. In addition, the presence of Carroll in the midfield makes the team defensively even more susceptible to a counter. Although some of the criticism directed towards Carroll isn’t completely true, there is no doubt we can have someone else with a better offensive and defensive output.
Pochettino’s lack of plan B has been mentioned time and time again by analysts and this actually has a lot of truth to it. The fact has been mercilessly laid bare when chasing games deep in the second-half. Not only a lot of goals have been conceded at the death of the game but Tottenham have also failed to score many because of lack of game changers. Despite Andros Townsend’s single dimensional play, he often brought in some energy and pace in the attack even if this was without any actual end-product. We often find ourselves when it comes to finding regular game changers. It would perhaps be an overstatement to say we miss him but we certainly do need pace through the wings since both Lamela and Eriksen both aren’t the typical traditional wingers and tend to roam about the central area with both full-backs charging up-field. Bringing on players in the same positions with a contrasting style of play can help us break the deadlock. It so often happens in a game that despite being quite dominant throughout we can’t break the deadlock and an introduction of fresh legs on the field does the trick.
Even substituting a defensive player for an offensive one can have really unexpected consequences. It often disturbs the defensive flow with the change in the tactical defensive duties now altered. So it can often be better to not make even a defensive change when the team is settling well and defending well.
In addition, Tottenham have also shown some naivety in terms of defending a lead. Instead of eating up seconds by taking the balls in some non-dangerous areas in opposition’s half when leading, we have often ventured to kill the game off which often backfired and we were left to pick up the pieces of a game we could have won easily won.