Tottenham pair shine briefly — but is it enough?

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 25: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou
HARRISON, NJ - JULY 25: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou /

It took 87 minutes for Tottenham to get on the scoreboard in Tuesday night’s match against Roma, and another three to equalize in spectacular fashion.

Though that leveler wouldn’t matter all that much to Tottenham — Roma would immediately score on the other end to win the match — it remains intriguing if only for the two men involved.

The goal truly began deep in Tottenham’s defense, from whence a long diagonal ball was launched into the path of Georges-Kévin Nkoudou.

This was a tactic that Spurs had tried to find some joy with all game. Toby Alderweireld’s knack for an accurate long pass folds in nicely for an energetic and pacey presence on the wing capable of running into the space in pursuit of the ball.

For much of the match, the target of these gambits was Kieran Trippier. Spurs’ presumptive first choice right-back is exceptional out wide, particularly when he can get up to full speed.

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Unfortunately for him and the rest of the team, those passes never truly connected. Trippier created one or two chances.

Nkoudou was a tad luckier. His controlled the ball well, and then was able to circumnavigate a tired-looking Leandro Castan. Rather than dallying away his moment in space, the young Frenchman sent in a cross from 20 yards out.

On the end of that cross was Vincent Janssen. The striker was on for Harry Kane, and had been relatively quiet over the previous quarter hour. Now, though, he found his way around his marker and first-timed the ball into the turf in front of Lukasz Skorupski, thereby deflecting it past the keeper’s grasp.

The team celebrated accordingly, which might or might not have aided Roma in their immediate successful counter-attack. Nevertheless , it was a well-created and well-taken goal from two players hover around Spurs’ periphery.

While most of the transfer rumors this summer surrounded Kyle Walker and Eric Dier, Janssen and Nkoudou have quietly been understood to be candidates a trip to the exit as well. Without any concrete links though and perhaps a lingering faith in their potential, the pair joined the rest of the squad on the pre-season tour of the US.

Indeed, both players started in last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Paris Saint Germain. Neither mustered the same kind of quality put on display in the goal against Roma, but their presence on the pitch suggested that perhaps their days in lilywhite weren’t quite over yet.

The question now is whether or not Tuesday’s goal changes anything for the players or the squad as a whole. Given the context — the dying minutes of a meaningless friendly — it probably shouldn’t. With Tottenham anxious to avoid wading into an overboiling transfer market though, such demonstrations of finesse might be enough in Pochettin’s mind to justify keeping them on board.

It helps too that Nkoudou previously sparkled in an admittedly even-less-important scrimmage against Leyton Orient earlier in the month. Janssen has enjoyed less chances to impress, but will presumably get more against Manchester City and Juventus.

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Moments like this might serve to remind us that a foreign players first season in the Premier League is always going to have its difficulties. It’s perfectly within a club’s rights to move on, even prematurely, but there might still be good reason to give Nkoudou and Janssen a second chance.