A feature of Tottenham’s recent matches has been their propensity to concede an early goal, inside 15 minutes, immediately handing the initiative to their opponents as happened on Saturday against West Brom.
At the Hawthorns while West Bromwich Albion manager, Pepe Mel was bemoaning his side’s inability to hold an early advantage, Tottenham fans were concerned about their side’s slow start and their growing habit of conceding early goals.
West Brom who were 2 up after four minutes and three to the good after half an hour, conceded a late goal to drop two vital points in their battle against relegation. It was the fourth time this season that Albion have been been 2 – 0 up inside 11 minutes and failed to win on each occasion.
Tottenham have failed to score a goal in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game this season, the only team to be in this very exclusive club. Over the course of the season, however, Spurs have managed to concede early goals, inside 15 minutes in 7 games and the two scored by Albion on Saturday afternoon brought the total conceded to 8.
Early Goals Conceded (inside 15 minutes)
In the opening 10 Premier League games Spurs had been very miserly in defence, conceding only 5 goals in total with three of those coming in the one game against West Ham.
Since early November, conceding early has become a regular and unwanted feature of Tottenham’s game.
Newcastle (h) Lost 0 – 1 (13th minute)
Manchester City (a) Lost 0 – 6 (1st minute)
Southampton (a) Won 3 – 2 (13th minute)
Manchester City (h) Lost 1 – 5 (15th minute)
Arsenal (h) Lost 0 – 1 (2nd minute)
Liverpool (a) Lost 0 – 4 (2nd minute)
West Bromwich Albion (a) Draw 3 – 3 (1st & 4th minutes)
Against Newcastle, Loic Remy scored a goal in the 13th minute which set the tone for the remainder of the game as Spurs struggled to breakthrough a determined Newcastle defence in which goalkeeper Tim Krul had an outstanding game.In the following game, it was even worse, going one down in the first minute at Manchester City and never recovering in a desperate performance which led to a 6-goal defeat.
A change of manager didn’t bring any change as Southampton took the lead in the 13th minute of Tim Sherwood’s first League game as interim manager. At the end of January, Manchester City needed an additional 14 minutes to score at White Hart Lane, the goal coming in the 15th minute.
Since mid-March, early goals have become a regular feature of Spurs games. Arsenal scored inside 2 minutes and held on to take all three points, Liverpool set themselves for a comfortable win when the opening goal went in after 2 minutes and West Brom followed suit with two goals in 4 minutes on Saturday but were unable to take full advantage as Spurs recovered to snatch a late point.
While there are seven games where Tottenham have yielded an early advantage to their opponents, there are other games when the opening goal came just outside the 15 minute mark. Against Liverpool at White Hart Lane, the first goal came in the 18th minute and in the home game against Southampton, their first goal came in the 19th minute while Sunderland were gifted a goal in the 17th minute. In the match against Chelsea at Stamford bridge, the goals didn’t come until the second half but in the opening minutes, Tottenham’s poor defensive performance almost granted Chelsea a perfect start on two occasions.
Only in two of the games, having conceded inside those opening 15 minutes, have Spurs managed a recovery to take points – against Southampton at St. Mary’s stadium where they went on to win and on Saturday when taking a point.
Early goals conceded and sloppy defending with careless individual mistakes which have brought about some of those goals have cost Tottenham dearly this season, raising the inevitable thought of ‘ if only’ what might have been.
A lack of intent, a lack of focus and organisation in the opening passage of the game with players being too casual and relaxed in the build up to the game have been highlighted by studio pundits as part of the cause of Tottenham’s early problems. The question which needs answered is, ‘What has the manager and coaching staff done to try and eradicate the problem?’
As far as I can see, the answer is, ‘nothing’.
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