Date: 16th April 2018 at 8:00pm
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The lack of intensity against City was my biggest concern from the loss on Saturday. Like against Chelsea, the sluggish start caused us a lot of problems, but unlike the Blues, Pep Guardiola’s side were able to take full advantage.

You could clearly see that the intention was to press high up in order to pressurise our opponents into making mistakes, but the execution of Poch’s strategy by the players was halfhearted at best.

It’s extremely important to press as a team in order to limit time on the ball, but there were numerous occasions on Saturday where one player would press the ball, and the others wouldn’t (or couldn’t) follow.

With that lack of intensity, City were able to play around us, picking passes where the press was at it’s weakest, and for the first half hour especially it was very difficult to watch.

You could blame the role that Davinson Sanchez played in both first half goals, but remember the high line which we play is always a risky ploy, if the press in front of the defence is not implemented correctly.

Pushing up is designed to restrict space, and stop attacks at their source, but when there is no pressure on the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, they will create chances when they have time to pick out passes.

Saying that though, the first goal was particularly poor to give away. Just one long ball from Vincent Kompany took out absolutely everyone and Davinson just wasn’t switched on to the danger.

The Colombian has had a good first season, but on his weekend’s performance, he has a lot to learn. But I’m not going to make him the scapegoat. The players around him left him, and the backline in general, pretty much exposed.

We tightened up in the second half, and got closer to our opponents. There were 10 minutes either side of half time where it looked like City were going to wobble once again, but even then it felt we were just not at the races to take advantage.

Following difficult first half displays versus Chelsea ad City, and a scrappy win against Stoke, I’m a bit worried that we are dropping off the high standards that have been set this campaign.

Hopefully we put in a good morale boosting display against Brighton tomorrow so we are in good shape for the semi-final against United. We can’t afford to lose our intensity at such a crucial point of the season.


52 Replies to “Tottenham are losing their intensity at just the wrong time”

  • No coincidence that 10 off our 11 are automatic picks when this stuff happens.

    At this stage of the season, I would have hoped Rose, Toby and Wanyama would be fully fit and on top form. We spent a lot of money on Aurier and I would have also expected him to be giving Trippier a run for his money. When you factor in Son vs Lamela vs Moura and the missing Winks, we literally could have had 16 or 17 players vying for 11 shirts.

    What’s even more subtle is that we started the season with 3 at the back with Toby, Sanchez and Jan. Like last season we had a squad that could genuinely switch between the 2 formations most teams use in the Prem. We’re now a Plan A side and that means every opposition manager can setup for that. Whether they have the personnel to deal with it is the bigger question and why we win most matches.

  • No disgrace losing to city Saturday,even though the performance was not good. Our next two games are our most important for a long time, if we lose both major questions will be asked,if we win both we have a great chance of our first trophy for a decade, and one step closer to champions league in our new stadium next season.

  • On a slightly different topic, great to see Michael Oliver refereeing the game tonight. Oliver has reportedly had his house visited by protestors banging on the door and shouting through the letterbox, death threats sent to his wife, Lucy, via text, and several repugnant social-media posts about his family.

    Whilst Buffon isn’t clearly responsible for that stuff, he is totally culpable for not apologising to Oliver for the comments. Instead of being a so called “legend” of the game and role model to young fans everywhere by diffusing the situation, he just threw more fuel on the fire in subsequent interviews. I’ve got no time for the guy now who in my opinion was correctly sent off in the first place.

  • 3 losses in the last 28 games, 2 to the EPL champs and 1 to Juventus. We’re doing alright. If not for the dropped points at Wembley earlier on in the season, we’d almost certainly be 2nd (again) at the moment.

  • This article could have been written after any game we lost. We didn’t lose our intensity after a 14 game unbeaten spell … we just lost a game. It happened to be against the best team in the league and, against City, every team has ‘lost it’s intensity’. This is just a cheap shot at the squad, imo.

    We’re keeping up with an average of two points a game which would get us into the top four almost every season. Apart from some early points dropped, as Guyver rightly says, our intensity has been …. consistently intense!

  • I agree that we lacked intensity on Saturday. There was no conviction in our pressing. And it wasn’t done collectively which is a prerequisite. It’s not just about pressing the player on the ball either: it’s the closing down of space, cutting the angles and ultimately forcing errors or loss of possession. We didn’t really do that. Players seemed to be reacting individually rather than as part of a cohesive team with a clear plan.

    I disagree that we’ve lacked intensity in previous matches though. But what is of concern is that we’ve started slowly in each of our last 4 league matches. Against Bournemouth we were a goal down within 10 minutes and it should have been 2. Stoke was very lethargic and Chelsea not much better in the first half. Against City, for the first 40 minutes, we were chasing shadows. This has to change, hopefully starting tonight. I think we’ll see Moura get a start and he’s the sort of player that gives a team a spark. We definitely do not want to start slowly on Saturday and go a goal behind.

  • Geoff – I thought we lost our intensity at Stoke as well. Not for the whole game, but for periods. The most intense we got was when their equaliser went in. Suddenly, the entire team went up a gear. Made me wonder why we hadn’t shown that intensity for the rest of the game.

    Apart from the predictability of our team selection and formation to other managers, our other chink at the moment is the form of some of our players. You have some like Vertonghen, Dembele and Eriksen that seem to be able to keep the levels of consistency going week in, week out. Then you have the following players:

    Lloris – is playing beneath his normal excellent standards. Has made 2 or 3 errors recently and wondering whether his confidence is what it was in the past.

    The full-backs – a month ago I may have argued that Davies was the only full-back on form. With his recent performances, I’m not sure I could say that now. As for the other side, Trippier’s playing within himself but nothing like the player known for his superb crossing and interplay down the right.

    Dier – playing solid but seems to be making bad choices and giving up possession in dangerous areas. Fortunately, he’s got away with it most of the time.

    Dele – he went from fantastic against Chelsea to doing his best impression of Jermaine Jenas for the Stoke and City games. He’s a young guy learning how to influence games with his undoubted ability. Sometimes though, he’s just being tactically inept by not rolling his sleeves up with Dier and Dembele (but still running around a lot) and looks a passenger.

    Son – seems to go from unplayable at times to a player that is anonymous and ineffective. Perhaps it’s the goalscoring that triggers the other parts of his game. It could be the rotation with Lamela. Not one I worry about though, but we do need our Son firing.

    Kane – always seems to have 2 or 3 quiet games when coming back from injury. Hopefully, we’ve just seen them and he can now get going again.

    What we need against Brighton is for these players to click back into top gear ready for the Utd game. When you think of our last few games last season, it would be great to replicate that and see a goalfest. There should be no chance of implosion with our group of players.

  • Lloris has made five mistakes that have led directly to league goals this season (excluding Saturday’s penalty against City which wasn’t attributed to him). Last season it was two and the season before three. Hopefully this is a blip rather than a trend.

  • Muttley makes some good points. At wembley I noticed our players were “asleep” for 35 mins. why i am not sure 100%. could it be a mindset of acceptance of defeat by city caused by the aura of city being unbeatable ? Or were they saving their efforts for Man Utd. semi final? Lloris looks to be down on his form as well, he pushes out shots and crosses where he used to catch them, or push / palm the ball out danger zone of play . City 3rd goal was a good example he palmed the ball straight to sterling. His positional play is also not as good, chelsea goal was due to him missing the cross and city game continued mix up with sanchez. I really hope Poch has coaches to help hugo, or play vorm tonight. COYS

  • muttley ….I take your point. What I thought we did lose for the first 25 minutes, was the midfield. We had nobody in there. I guess that’s what the ‘intensity’ meant. Once we got on equal terms in midfield I thought we looked the most likely to score …. even though it didn’t turn out that way. Apart from the first period, I wasn’t too disappointed by our performance. It will be interesting to see how things differ against Brighton.

  • I think it’s hard to be on top of your game in every match. Every team has a bad day at the office and I wouldn’t read too much into the City game. We came up against a strong opponent, didn’t really change much in our game plan to make it hard on them, and paid the price. However, we were below par against Stoke and still won, which is usually a sign of good teams. You have to find a way to grind out a result when you’re not at your best and we did that against Stoke – we couldn’t against City, but they’re a much better team. I don’t think there’s much wrong to be honest. We, like Liverpool, City and Untied, have played lots of games recently, and I can point to “bad” recent results for every one of those teams (Liverpool looking flat v. Everton, City having a bad week prior to our game against them, United against WBA, …). The biggest thing is how we respond. If we crush Brighton, we’re back on track. I would personally look at the physical training/fitness regime for potential answers. Our game relies on peak fitness and fitness usually comes in cycles (lots of evidence of this when you read about sports science). Maybe the fitness regime in recent weeks has been changed to peak against United, given the remaining season objectives. The fact that MP has indicated that he would rotate for Brighton does suggest there’s a fatigue issue there, for certain players.

  • Not sure if ‘rotation’ at this point is to rest some players or to provide others with needed game time.

  • Steve Evans…simply put, agree, Muttley regards Michael Oliver, I have met the man and my first impressions were what a ?, though that still does not justify his treatment, as for Buffon cant say anymore.

    Saturdays game v MC, not sure about the lack of intensity by the whole team, my thoughts were that our attackers did not defend from the front thus leaving space/gaps in the midfield which we all saw MC took full advantage of, losing to a side that is the best in the Prem is no shame, we kick on again tonight at Brighton with a win, then take on Moaninio’s lot on Saturday with another win and an FA Cup final to play in, there is still plenty to look forward to.

    I still believe Poch will get it right as will the players.

  • Geof – I’m only going off of what MP said in his press conferences. He has said a few days ago that he couldn’t really care less about players’ playing time and that his job was to mind about what was best for the club/team, not the individual players (this had been brought up in the context of Toby needing to play more in order to make Belgium’s squad for the WC). Now, Toby’s situation may be an exception (if Toby’s going in the summer anyways, maybe there’s less incentive to keep Toby happy in the short term). But I truly believe that MP means what he said. If he’s rotating, I don’t think it’s to manage feelings. I really think he’s rotating out of necessity rather than a desire to please underused players.

  • BS … I didn’t say ‘please them’. All squad members need proper competitive game time to keep them as ready as possible should they be needed. I just thought that this game is an opportunity to do that. And maybe MP should consider it. I certainly hope Lucas starts. I’d like to see Toby and Wanyama start too.

    I didn’t see the MP quote you mentioned but all managers say the ‘right’ thing no matter what they are thinking. They have to. MP’s pre-match comments could be cut and pasted for every game. It’s always the same.

  • Geoff – I will add fuel to the Toby fire. On Friday evening, Kazaiah Sterling played 90 mins against Chelsea U23’s and yet made the Wembley bench for the first team 24 hours later. Add to that, our U23’s played with 10 men from the 39th minutes when Maghoma was sent off. Can’t think how fresh Sterling would have been but he was still selected over Toby and Llorente. We already had 3 attacking players in Moura, Son and Sissoko on the bench.

    We knew that Rose, KWP and Winks were unavailable for selection. Not sure about Foyth, but clearly Toby and Llorente must be doing something massively wrong not to make that bench. Poch prefers a knackered 20 year old kid ahead of them 🙂

  • Lets not forget that in a 14 match unbeaten run, we beat Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea and we drew at Liverpool. One defeat against City in that context is not too bad. The worrying things for me were firstly the slow start to the game (this is becoming a habit now). You simply cannot afford to do that against City. Secondly Poch’s tactics seemed to be the same as at the Etihad. With the lack of pace in our defence that was simply madness. His stand off with Toby which may be admirable, is costing us dear. A back three of Toby, Verts and Sanchez is surely a viable alternative in some matches. We have already sold one defender to a rival – strengthening a weakness in their team and weakening ourselves, if the same happens with Toby, we are setting a trend which will be hard to reverse and which will make it even harder for us to maintain our top four status. It’s a massive game tonight, if we win the top four is as good as done, if we lose or draw, then Chelsea will sense that we can be caught and the may actually start trying. COYS

  • A bit off topic… City are to pay spurs £1.5m as part of Walker’s transfer as they have now won the title. Congrats mr levy. 🙂 another good add on to outgoing transfers…

  • Block D – maybe he could use that money to make up for the shortfall in sales of Club 1882 tickets at the new stadium. Not too many sold – I can’t imagine why.

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