Spurs win, but ....

Spurs, the scoreline would suggest won comfortably against Aston Villa on Sunday to move fifth in the table, however it was not as easy as the scoreline would suggest and the buts remain.

I always listen out for the views of Gary Neville as he is by far and away the best pundit on TV. Not for him the Dwight Yorke approach. Dwight was asked before the game how Aston Villa could improve their poor home form to which he spent 2 minutes saying absolutely nothing. He simply said they wanted to, will try to and need to, effectively. Why do Sky pay these experts to say nothing, to waffle. I'm not interested in the views of a biased former player, especially when they don't actually seem to have any views at all anyway, I'd rather hear a neutral who will actually say something worth listening to.

Neville was the expert assisting in the commentary and he summed Spurs up the way we all have, too slow. Pedestrian ball from the back means the opposition can simply put 11 men behind the ball as Villa did. They kept their shape and when our midfielder dropped back to collect the ball their player would often simply let him and maintain a barrier rather than get pulled out of position. It seemed they were trying to bore our players so they would try something difficult and lose the ball. Their tactic this season has been to hit teams on the counter attack but if a team doesn't attack them they can't counter attack and we didn't attack them, which made for a very negative affair.

Neville felt the problem was Soldado and Hotlby, their lack of movement giving the man with the ball few passing options. I have spoken before how it is the responsibility of the players off the ball to provide options for the man on the ball and that if the ball player makes an error, the fault is not always his but the players off the ball for not doing their job.

Until our fluke opener from Townsend we were passing backwards and sideways in our own half. At the moment Neville was telling us Soldado needed to provide more movement Chiriches had the ball on the left, however at that moment Gyfi Sigurdsson the wide man on that side had dropped back 5 yards from him. You could argue he was pulling a man out of position to create something behind him, but it rarely created anything, the alternative is that Sigurdsson was offering no outlet for the ball. Townsend on the other side however was constantly offering an outlet for Walker or Dawson.

Rather than being solely Soldado or Holtby's fault, Sigurdsson was doing little to help the situation. Chiriches had to consistently give up on a forward pass and lazily it seemed pass backwards to Dawson. Incidentally I thought Chiriches showed that he has some improving to do before he can be considered for a regular place, he was again taking risks and making far too many mistakes.

There were a couple of instances in the game when Soldado did what Neville thought he should do more and came out of the centre to link play. The result was we then got to the byline, put in two excellent crosses and he wasn't there to finish them off. His goal from the only chance we created for him and from just about the first chance we have created for him in 7 games, was taken with aplomb. He showed us he was a finisher in that moment, he showed why we bought him.

It makes sense therefore that we must create more for him. One of the problems demonstrated itself after that goal, Andros Townsend got to within 2 yards of the byline (delighted he is now regularly going outside his man as I suggested he needs to do in previous articles) and instead of pulling it back where Soldado had found space, Townsend tried an impossible shot into the top far corner which of course comfortably missed it's target. He still seems to think his first job is to have a shot and his second job to  create for Soldado when in fact it's the other way round.

The coaching staff need to drum it into him to feed Soldado. If you were to take a poll amongst our supporters and say given a scoring chance who is more likely to score Townsend or Soldado, the answer should be 100% voting for Soldado. Rather than being our first option, it's currently our last option.

From the left side we received nothing of note from Sigurdsson and Vertonghen, who was playing at left-back. The goal came from that side but came from Holtby collecting the ball out there. Sigurdsson was replaced with Lennon and who we then played on the wrong wing. He has consistently shown he offers little or nothing creatively from that side as he has to cut back onto his right foot the same as Sigurdsson. Surely this was the time to switch Townsend to the left and let Lennon take over on the right. He would provide a service for Soldado, yet from the left he can't. In this instance the insistence on inverted wingers was a mistake and condemned Soldado to a life without service again.

A look at the league table shows the same problem we had last season. We had an inferior goal difference last season and we have one this season. Just 8 goals in 7 games but 2 of those were penalties so we have scored only 6 goals from 7 games from open play, 5 of those in 2 games. That is not enough. Our competitors have goal differences of +9 (Arsenal), +9 (Chelsea), +6 (Liverpool), +11 (Man City) so we are 3, 6 and 8 behind already. These gaps you would expect will only grow as the season progresses.

At the beginning of last season after we had just won a home game by a couple of goals and missed probably 3 clear cut easy chances in the last 5 minutes I talked on Facebook about how we needed to be more clinical and lazily wasting chances like this was not conducive to that. It was as if we didn't care, we had already won. Arsenal regularly it seemed bagged a bunch of goals at the end of games, they scored 4 again at the weekend as did Chelsea.

Bigger victories boost our goal difference and engender a winning mentality that crushes the opposition. That clinical winning mentality would then help us in tighter situations where we would be more likely to take the one chance that comes along. The goal difference problem meant we put ourselves under the pressure of having to secure more points than our rivals. Towards the end of the season that could play on the teams mind and affect results, we have the same scenario developing this season. A hard luck story missing out on goal difference is not a hard luck story.

The last 2 games have highlighted our problem. In each game we have created one clear cut opportunity for our sole striker. Defoe missed his, Soldado scored his. That is the bottom line and why Soldado is first choice, Defoe is second choice. If Defoe had scored, and he didn't because of a poor body shape reducing his options, then we would have been 1-0 up and a different game then ensues.

We have new players adjusting to a system and each other but we can't get away from the fact that most of our shots are not chances, they are simply pot shots from outside the box. The shots stats in that respect are pretty meaningless.

Unless you have a freakishly good long range specialist like Gareth Bale, his 44% accuracy was the best in Europe, then you'll always be liable to dropping points the way we did against West Ham and Arsenal. We have nobody anywhere near Bale's accuracy and you have to wonder if our policy is to throw mud at the wall and see what sticks, by that I mean we take as many pot shots as possible in the hope that one goes in.

We are building a machine, the second goal at last showed how we want the machine to work. The next level for Spurs is goals, 1-0 is no longer enough in today's football, relying on it will mean being beaten in the long run by others. We have tightened up at the back, now we have to loosen up at the front.

We are a work in progress but how long can you use that excuse before you start wondering if their is a fundamental flaw? We'll know by Christmas if we have taken our game to the next level and added goals.



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