After earning a win over Nottingham Forest in their first closed door friendly last week, Tottenham lost their second game to Fulham.
The score doesn’t matter in friendlies whether it’s a closed door friendly or available for everyone to watch. What does matter is the players doing well and a manager’s tactics improving from the previous season.
From Tottenham’s official post-match report, it appears that some key players from the youth team and Spurs two new signings got some minutes under their belts.
As for how the game went, besides losing 1-0 to Fulham, Pochettino’s starting XI had no problems moving the ball around amongst themselves but found trouble in penetrating the Cottagers’ defense.
This is a worry as teams last year started to play more defensively against Tottenham which rendered them helpless for much of the game.
Against defensive-minded teams, a single goal was all it would take to swing the game in the opposition’s favor. And because Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics involved setting the pace from the very beginning of a match, it wore them down in the second half.
Even more so, if teams were happy to sit back, absorb pressure and then go on a quick counterattack after Tottenham’s full-backs had pushed high up the pitch, the defense would be caught out of position.
Needless to say, Tottenham would do much of the running and gain nothing in the end on offense against managers who wanted at least 10 men behind the ball.
Against Fulham today in a closed door friendly, it appears that trend has continued.
Because some players are still on vacation after going through the since-concluded European Championship six days ago, Mauricio Pochettino has once again fielded a mixed group of players.
The starting XI and formation is hard to pick out as usual — with it being a closed door friendly — but some names have been thrown out there for the fans to guess what Pochettino was using.
By looking at who played against Nottingham Forest last week, Hotspur HQ’s Ryan Wrenn figured Pochettino went with a 4-3-3. It wouldn’t be a shock if he did, as the Argentine manager used this formation last season against FK Qarabağ in Tottenham’s opening game of their Europa League campaign.
But looking at the players today and where they would normally line up, perhaps Mauricio Pochettino reverted back to his traditional 4-2-3-1 formation.
Above we have the names of 13 Tottenham players based on Spurs’ official post-match report, along with pictures taken during the game, linked up top, to give us all a better idea of who played.
The only two question marks would be at left-back and right center-back. But for the most part, all of the names listed have been confirmed.
Who came on during the break is hard to figure out as the only two people named as clear substitutes were Luke McGee coming on for Michel Vorm and Vincent Janssen for Shayon Harrison.
Again, despite the loss, it’s more important that specific players got some playing time in Tottenham’s second closed door friendly. Most notably, Spurs’ two new signings in Victor Wanyama and Janssen.
Besides those two, it’s good to see that some of the youth players and fringe first-team players getting a chance to prove their worth: Shayon Harrison, Harry Winks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Nabil Bentaleb and Alex Pritchard.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the likes of Bentaleb, Pritchard, Mason and Carroll, even Winks too. But the fact that they’re getting playing time at least gives Mauricio Pochettino an idea of where they stand in regards to his 25-man squad for this upcoming season.
It’s possible they all return and get some minutes. Some could go out on loan, or some of them could be permanently sold. Either way, now is the time to figure out how to best implement them into this team before the regular starters return from vacation.
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that while Tottenham conceded late in the 88th minute from Fulham’s Luca de la Torre against Luke McGee, Vincent Janssen who came in as a substitute almost equalized in the 90th minute.
Almost isn’t enough. It’s not a goal and Spurs lost in the end.
However, that being said, this is just a prelude as to what the Dutch international can do if he were to come on late during a game. And that’s provide Pochettino’s offense with that game-changing spark that this team has needed for the past two seasons.