|DATE||Sunday 1st March 2020|
All the talk about Wolverhampton Wanderers at the moment revolves
around Adama Traore, but that would to do a disservice to the others
members of the team who contribute to the success of Nuno Espirito
Santo's team. Troare was long held to be a tricky winger with
no end product, but now that he has started to score and create
chances, his reputation has changed and he has now become the player
that opposition teams need to nullify to stop Wolves. The fact
that Diego Jota scored a hat-trick in midweek to secure a place in
the EUropa League last 16 has gone by the by.
Ruben Neves, Raul Jiminez, Leonardo Dendoncker and Jonny Otto are all good technical players, with Willy Boly returning to add height to the defence, where Conor Coady is stern in his defending and Matt Doherty gives the forwards support by pushing up the right wing. It is the pace and strength of Traore that makes him stand out as a terrifying prospect when he is bearing down on you. The Wolves captain Coady claimed that Spurs were taking turns at kicking his winger in the game earlier this season, but that is a dangerous game to play and our defenders didn't kick him when he scored the Wolves goal that rainy day.Otto is a player willing to do the hard work and take people on when he can, while Jota works between the lines to get forward and into the box, where he is an accomplished finisher, as is Jiminez, who is good in the air and on the floor. With those two, it will be imperative that Spurs don't give away cheap free-kicks outside the box (or anywhere to be honest), as Neves has a fine delivery from a dead ball, as well as a moving one and he can strike a sweet shot too.
At the back, Doherty's willingness to push forward might leave space to allow Spurs to hit on the break, with Coady and Boly the holding defenders, while Belgian international Dendoncker will sit in front of the back four, although they will make their way forward for set-pieces. In the game at Wembley last season, we allowed Wolves to have time and space, which gave Moutinho the opportunity to pull the strings and with Daniel Podence having signed from Crvena zvezda, we know how effective he can be, although he might still be finding his feet in the Premier League. Another tricky winger, but not in the Traore mould, the options to provide service to the forwards has been increased.
With an astute manager and Chinese money behind the club, spent by connections with Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, the club have been rebuilt since winning promotion, but they are a little inconsistent, which has stopped them securing a top six place already. They play an attacking game and work hard to get behind the ball when they lose it.
Tottenham are again without a recognised striker, so it will be a
case of Moura toiling away and hoping for some decent passes to feed
on, while Bergwijn, Dele and Lo Celso attempt to find some space to
operate in and get up alongside Lucas to offer him someone to pass
to. It will be a grind to get something out of this game to
keep track with those above us, so it will be a tough afternoon,
even though the Wolves side have had little time to recover from
their trip back from Spain on Thursday ... and this should serve as
a warning to Tottenham as to what might happen if they fail to get
Champions League football.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Harry Kane (hamstring) is back in light on field training, but will not be fit for some time, with Moussa Sissoko (knee) in the same position. Ryan Sessegnon's hip injury strain keeps him out, while Heung-Min Son is back in South Korea after having had surgery on his broken arm. Juan Foyth is back in the squad and could be in line for a place on the bench.
WANDERERS TEAM NEWS :
Jonny Otto may be missing after picking up an injury in their last league game at Norwich City, but Raul Jiminez will be back after being rested for the midweek Europa League match in Spain.
|Premier League||Kick off 14.00|
|Tottenham Hotspur 2 (2)||
Doherty 26m 27s
Lo Celso (foul on Traore) 59
Winks (dissent) 84
Davies (foul on Doherty) 84
Boly (foul on Dele) 71
Dendoncker (foul on Lo Celso) 90+5
|Crowd : 58,064||Weather : Sunny, mild, windy|
|Referee : Stuart Attwell (Leamington Spa)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Marc Perry; Mr. Simon Long|
|Fourth Official : Kevin Friend|
|Video Assistant Referee : Simon Hooper||Video Assistant Referee Assistant : Mark Scholes|
|Wolves kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 9 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Wolverhampton Wanderers :||kit|
15 Willy BOLY
16 Conor COADY (c)
27 Romain SAISS
2 Matt DOHERTY
8 Ruben NEVES
28 Joao MOUTINHO
29 Ruben VINAGRE
37 Adama TRAORE ( 7 Pedro NETO 74)
9 Raul JIMINEZ 10 Daniel PODENCE( 90+2)
18 Diego JOTA (32 Leander DENDONCKER 79 )
|Manager : Jose Mourinho||Manager : Nuno Espirito Santo|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : ManBet X|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : adidas|
With no strikers available, Spurs managed to score twice, but couldn't keep Wolves out at the back and conceded three times to contrive to lose this match that they were leading 2-1 just before half-time.
Before the game I was chatting to a friend and said that the team are too nice and I had thought Mourinho would have brought an "edge" to the side when he arrived, but while we see other teams committing what are called "tactical fouls" (a term I hate ... they are professional fouls wherever they happen on the pitch), we don't, otherwise Jota would have been stopped a long time before he got anywhere near the Spurs penalty area for Jiminez's winning goal.
Turning up at the ground and seeing the team, it appeared that some changes were necessary and some surprising. Lloris' groin injury allowed Gazzaniga to return between the sticks and Lamela's continuing battle with minor injuries ruled him out, giving Troy Parrott the opportunity to start on the bench. Most surprising of all was the choice of Tanganga and Sanchez in the middle of defence, with Jan and Toby dropped to the subs. It was perhaps not too much of a shock having been caught out by balls beyond them in the last few games, but I imagine Mourinho's fear was of Traore's pace if he decided to come through the middle. As it was, the Wolves winger didn't have a very influential game, other than not being dispossessed in the build-up to their second goal.
The main threat actually came from Jota, who could have had more than his one goal, but Spurs failed to pick him up in his left midfield position, from where he produced chances for his forwards. Admittedly not too many ended up on target, but Wolves converted three of their four accurate efforts, whereas Tottenham failed to get anything on target in the second half. Which begs the question, why is the team not functioning properly ?
Well, with a new goalkeeper and a new centre-back partnership, added to Dier parachuted into a protective position in front of them, it was a system that was new to all of them and the communication was clearly lacking at times, when two players stood over the ball in our area and dithered over who would clear it and Paulo failed to dominate his six yard box, making it clear what he was going to do. That uncertainty doesn't help when the team have only kept a couple of clean sheets in the last twenty odd games. The changing of shape during the game, also led to pockets of space opening up for the opposition, with players having to try to adapt to new roles within the side.
An early Spurs corner led to the first of a number of Stuart Attwell's inconsistent refereeing of the match. Ben Davies had the ball in the far corner, when it cleared everyone and Traore bundled him to the floor from behind, with no foul given. There was no way he could get the ball from there, so, unless the referee thought it was a dive and should have given them a free-kick, it was a blatant foul. As it was the ball was taken away by Traore, who got a free-kick when Dele cleared him out. Attwell was also allowing "tactical fouls" to go unpunished, with Neves pulling back Lucas as he looked to break on the halfway line and while a free-kick was given a similar foul by Lo Celso later in the second half got a yellow card for it. Maybe it was "too early in the game" for a caution !
Traore looked like he might cause a threat when he intercepted a pass by Ben Davies, but he dragged his shot wide from outside the box. Wolves were also being favoured by the bounce of the ball, typified by a Jiminez shot that dropped for Jota, that was well blocked by Sanchez at the expense of a corner. One occasion it did go Tottenham's way was in the 13th minute, when Winks picked out a pass through to Stephen Bergwijn 30 yards from goal with his back to it. He touched it to his left for Lo Celso to feed Aurier down the right wing, with the low ball into the near post stepped over by Lucas allowing Dele to ghost in behind him ahead of Boly. Just outside the six yard box, you would have thought it was a certain goal, but the low shot was kept out by Patricio with a combination of hand and foot, but Bergwijn had followed the play into the box and poked the loose ball home from inside the six yard box. Having taken the lead, this was a new experience fans were experiencing for a while.
Spurs were in the ascendancy in this period of the game, with Davies and Aurier getting forward to play low crosses into the area, but there were not many shots on goal. Davinson Sanchez was up for a corner and when it was cleared to him on the edge of the box, he took a touch, teed it up and hooked a volley over his shoulder that was just a couple of feet wide of the angle of the goal. Wolves struck back, with Jota shooting too high when he was set up by Traore and shortly afterwards, they worked the ball well on their left wing, Davinson dived in on Jota and Vinagre skipped away from Aurier to put the ball across waist high. Dier couldn't cut it out at the near post and Tanganga blocked it in the middle as it sped towards him, dropping kindly for Doherty, who put his shot under Gazzaniga as he closed down on him in the six yard box. It was a goal as scruffy as Tottenham's and levelled the score with 27 minutes played.
Traore moved into a more central position, as Wolves changed the shape of their side, but Tottenham pressed forward, without troubling Rui Patricio who had to take a deflected Davies cross under his bar. Winks almost set Bergwijn away as Spurs cleared a corner, but his pass was cut out and it was a minute before the break when the Wolves goal survived a scramble. Davies put in a shot that was blocked, Lo Celso gathered it in and the ball popped up for Dele to fashion an overhead kick that went straight at the keeper. With seconds left before the 45 was up, Winks played the ball up to Bergwijn, who turned it on to Dele, who in turn put a pass out to the right where Aurier was going forward. It looked like Vinagre was favourite to get to it, but he backed away from the ball. He probably thought that Aurier would take him on the outside, as he had done a few times, but cutting inside onto his left foot, Serge curled the ball around Saiss and past Patricio to the keeper's right and into the net to give Tottenham the lead. it was a very well taken goal and was out of keeping with much of defender's early play for the club, but it took Tottenham into the half-time break with a goal advantage.
The second half started with a free-kick on the right wing for the visitors led to Jota winning a header and the ball flew narrowly over the bar. When Lucas was bumped into and knocked to the ground, he still managed to keep hold of the ball until Attwell finally blew for a free-kick. It was instructive that Atwell failed to give free-kicks when the team who would have had the free-kick were still in possession. it is called playing advantage, but what advantage is to be gained when you are pinned in near the corner of your own half ? I'm not sure what was going on in his head, but whatever it was, it produced an inconsistency that didn't help anybody.
Spurs almost extended the lead to 3-1 when Ben Davies' cross from halfway inside the Wolves half, found Dele running into the box and he tried to loop the ball over Patricio, which looked like it was going in, but it drifted inches wide of the goal. From a short free-kick on the Wolves left, the ball went to Traore on the right, where he withstood Tanganga's challenge, played it to Jiminez, who pushed it wide right to Doherty. His low ball in caused confusion among the Spurs defence who didn't cut it out and Jota had the simple task of knocking it over the line from close range at the far post. Tanganga's challenge didn't affect Traore's run and Jiminez had two touches to play it wide to an unmarked Doherty. Mourinho still has a lot of work to do with the defence with Spurs close to being out of reach to being pulled back level.
Fouls interrupted the flow of the game and the yellow cards started to be dished out, while back at the football, Aurier put a cross over Dele's head and Troare sliced a shot wildly wide from long range. However, when Jota showed a good bit of skill to trick his way past Lucas fifteen yards inside his own half, ran past Aurier's challenge and up to Sanchez before putting the ball through to Jiminez in the right channel. He took the ball inside and sold Tanganga in the penalty area, who thought he was going to check outside, but instead struck the ball left footed over Gazzaniga as he came out to make it 3-2 with 17 minutes left. The failure to get a telling challenge on either Jota or Jiminez cost Spurs another goal and it was starting to look like last season's game at Wembley all over again.
Ndombele and Gedson came on to "walk around" and "stand out wide and waste time at throw-ins" respectively, as an overheard Spurs "fan" said after the game. I am sure Mourinho instructed them exactly to do those things before he sent them onto the pitch. If there is nobody to throw the ball to, what do you think he should do ? Just throw it to a Wolves player to hurry the game up ? I've been going long enough to know that I shouldn't expect more from the people who go to games, but really ? Do people not watch the way we play and how that has changed since the end of last season ?
Troy Parrott came on for the last four minutes of added time, but barely got involved, as there was no service to him. I'm stunned that he wasn't included in the expert opinion of the overheard fan.
Time ticked out and another home defeat saw Wolves leap-frog over us in the table, the only saving grace of the day was that Everton grabbed a draw off Man U to keep them within reach, but we need Mourinho to find a way of playing the players are comfortable with, because this is not it.
It was a game free from VAR controversy, other than when Wolves scored their second, when they didn't celebrate hard, as there could have been a hint off offside. Attwell was very definite when declining any appeal for anything by waving his hands across each other and there was no reviews in the whole game. I don't know if this is a new instruction that informs the VAR team that he has not made a clear and obvious error, but the game went on without interruption.
The next two weeks could see us out of contention for all three competitions we are currently left in. it would be difficult to progress much further in the Champions League, but we have defied the odds before. The FA Cup is still full of teams above us in the table and you know how well we do against them, but it is a one-off match if we get past Norwich. There are ten league games left. They are the ones that we really need to do well in and having played the big boys away, we only have Man U and Arsenal as challengers for a Champions League place to visit us. We have to win those and most of the other remaining games to stand any hope of reaching the premier European competition. Let's hope that Mourinho can do it !
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|How the players did|
|Paulo Gazzaniga||Not a lot to do other than pick the ball out of the net (heard that before ?). His distribution wasn't great today, as Wolves' press hurried his kicks out.|
|Ben Davies||Played well and got down the left a bit more than in previous matches. Too often he didn't have enough options to find when he got there or support to play off.|
|Japhet Tanganga||Turned for Raul's goal and was the player in the way for their first, but was unfortunate, as he couldn't do much more. Another new system for him to play in and in a changed defence. Showed good aggression just after half-time in the tackle.|
|Serge Aurier||Star Man ! Worked hard down the right and despite a few early loose passes, was our main attacking threat, with his ball in creating the first goal and he took the second goal with aplomb.|
|Davinson Sanchez||Didn't have a bad game, but nothing notable. Did reasonably well in taming the forwards, but the whole team need to defend as a unit.|
|Eric Dier||Solid game, breaking up play, winning headers from corners and finding white shirts with his passes. Not liked by sections of the Spurs crowd, but .|
|Giovani Lo Celso||Everything went through Gio and he worked hard to find a way through the Wolves defensive shield. Needed more movement off him to hurt the opposition.|
|Harry Winks||Captain for the day, he tried to keep the team moving forward, but was frustrated by the Wolves defence.|
|Dele Alli||Has had better days, but was in the thick of it and was worrying the Wolves defence into unnecessary challenges on him. Denied when Bergwijn scored the first and his pass found Aurier for the second.|
|Stephen Bergwijn||Another who worked tirelessly. Was on the spot to convert the loose ball for Tottenham's opening goal and he looked to go forward when in possession.|
|Lucas Moura||Worked hard and done well to win headers when the ball was played up to him against Boly and Saiss, but his pace was nullified by fouls on him when he looked to break away past the Wolves defence.|
|Tanguy Ndombele||Tried to make space to create, but a couple of passes were too heavy, although he showed good skill on the ball.|
|Gedson Fernandes||Unable to do much, but filled Aurier's defensive position when he replaced him.|
|Troy Parrott||Little time to make an impression and I am not sure he touched the ball.|
|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Norwich City||1||Leicester City||0||Friday|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||0||Crystal Palace||1||Saturday|
|AFC Bournemouth||2||Frank Lampard's Chelsea||2||Saturday|
|West Ham United London||3||South Coast Big Club||1||Saturday|
|League Cup Final|
|Manchester City||2||Aston Villa||1||Sunday|
|League Table 2019-20|
|4||Frank Lampard's Chelsea||28||13||6||9||47||38||45||+9|
|13||South Coast Big Club||28||10||4||14||35||51||34||-16|
|15||Brighton & Hove Albion||28||6||10||12||32||40||28||-8|
|16||West Ham United London||28||7||6||17||35||49||27||-14|
Position before match : 6th
Position after match : 7th
Position after the weekend : 7th
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