Tottenham, in the win over QPR, showed a vast improvement in the style of play on offer throughout most of last season at White Hart Lane. It is early days and after one home game it is too soon to get carried away about Spurs prospects for the season ahead but there are many positives to be taken from the game.
What an Improvement in Tottenham Display
The Tottenham team against QPR on Sunday gave a display of the style of football that fans have been looking for from Spurs for some time. It was a game that had pace, momentum and drive and all of that came from Tottenham. Harry Redknapp’s Queen’s Park Rangers were poor and lacking in the determination and desire that one would have expected from experienced professionals in a promoted team at the start of the season.
Even with that, there are many positives that Mauricio Paochettino and Spurs fans can take from the game. It was a complete turnaround from last season.
Early Goal: Tottenham started with a purpose and intent, going ahead in the 11th minute with a well-worked goal by Nacer Chadli. Last year it was the final match of the season against Aston Villa, before Spurs managed to score an early goal inside the opening 15 minutes. The goal against Rangers gave Spurs the confidence and momentum to carry on and dominate the match.
Counter-attacking with pace: Spurs pressed QPR in midfield and then broke at pace putting the visitors’ defence under pressure. The opening goal came from Christian Eriksen gaining possession on the half-way line. They also counter-attacked from their own penalty area, driving right into the heart of the QPR penalty area, outnumbering the opposition and not allowing Rangers players to recover into their defensive positions.
Confidence: The whole team played with a confidence but with two players in particular, it was really noticeable compared with last season.
- Erik Lamela in 2013-14 looked uncertain, unsure and completely at a loss about what to do. He is now playing with a confidence which enables him to take on players and even when partially dispossessed, he will manages to burst through the tackle and carry on. A creative midfield player, he looks slightly built but has an amazing energy and strength. He chased, harried and hassled opponents, working tirelessly to win the ball back for the team. He displays a strength on the ball to hold off the strongest of defenders and force his way past and retain possession.
- Nacer Chadli was a bit-part player last season, tried in many roles without ever having a settled run in the team. On Sunday, he played with a confidence gained from having an understanding of his role in the team. He dovetailed excellently with Eriksen and Lamela as the creative trio in midfield, constantly switching positions behind Emmanuel Adebayor. His two goals were an added bonus but his very presence in the 6-yard box, in support of Adebayor, meant there was an extra man as a target to aim for when crosses were played into the area.
The whole team played with confidence, desire and a belief in their work and tactics and the football philosophy which Pochettino has talked about over the summer.Goal from a Corner: Spurs fans have delighted in Eriksen’s goals from free-kicks last season. He almost delivered one in the first half but only minutes later, Spurs scored from a corner. The two Eric(k)s combined – Erik Lamela delivered the corner and Eric Dier met it with a glancing header, beating Green at the near post. Another rarely-seen feature of the Tottenham game in seasons past, Dier had his second goal in two league games and Spurs has a goal from a set-piece. Other players stepped up as well, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose and Etienne Capoue performed better than at any time last season. Vertonghen was comfortable in defence and brought the ball forward into attack while Rose delivered the low cross for Adebayor’s goal.
The statistics for Capoue’s play illustrate the impact he had on the game.
- Etienne Capoue made 121 passes against QPR – 89% were accurate [from @EPLStatman]
The team played in a style appreciated by Spurs supporters and there was a sharpness and speed to their passing which enabled them to retain possession and frustrate a ragged QPR.
- Spurs have a passing accuracy of 87% so far this season, joint highest with Arsenal and Man City and 5% higher than last season. [from @SpursStatMan]
Hotspur Latest (@HotspurLatest) tweeted sentiments that every Spurs fan would echo:
Great performance from the lads today, comfortable win, good to see the boys playing with loads of confidence, the Spurs we missed are back!
As I said in the introduction, it’s early days but at least there are signs of what could be achieved this season but Liverpool will provide a stern test on Sunday, even after losing to Manchester City last night, at least their late goal keeps us top of the table until the weekend.