Tottenham Hotspur were particularly listless in their 1-0 defeat to Southampton, losing a lot more than three points in the process.
Whatever honeymoon existed between Tottenham Hotspur and Jose Mourinho is clearly over. With only one shot in the second half, Spurs cannot say they deserved more. The loss was compounded by their top striker and arguably best midfielder limping off injured.
Spurs are too slow
Fans were excited that Alderweireld signed a new contract recently and many have been vocal about Jan Vertonghen following suit. However, each week it looks more and more that playing both together is a real liability for the team, as shown on the only goal of the match.
Jack Stephens was free to pick out a through ball. He played a long ball that cut through Vertonghen and Alderweireld like butter. Danny Ings, who has battled injuries over last couple of seasons, has showed the craft everyone has come to expect. Ings brought the ball off his chest and did his best Dele Alli to pip the ball over Toby, who stumbled to his knees. Ings now has 13 on the season, the same number Tottenham have given up in nine games under Jose Mourinho in the league.
With both Vertonghen and Alderweireld in the game together, Spurs are susceptible to fleet of foot attackers, and Ings was just the latest to expose the duo. While he doesn’t read the game as well as the Toby and Jan, the center-halves are susceptible to speed anytime Davison Sánchez is not on the field. Maybe it is also time to see more of Japhet Tanganga – who was on the bench today along with Sánchez – and a full commitment to building for the future. With Sadio Mane looming on the horizon, dealing with speed is something Tottenham needs to figure out fast.
Tottenham blowing their tops
On day where the squad earned five yellow cards, seeing three given for verbal infractions is unacceptable. Three cards that had nothing to do with the play on the field. Giovani Lo Celso – who was introduced after Ndombele went off – picked one up within 10 minutes of his introduction for apparently lobbying too much for a yellow card for Pierre-Emile Hojberg’s foul on Alli.
The sad part is Hojberg should have been yellowed for pulling Dele back. While Lo Celso will never be mistaken for Eric Dier, he does stick his nose in and was obviously affected by the early yellow.
Eriksen received one late, presumably for complaining about time-wasting. Regardless, three yellows for actions off the ball shows the squad hasn’t learned anything from Son, Moussa and Winks’ previous suspensions.
Then again, you can’t expect players to be disciplined if the coach isn’t. Let’s hope Mourinho and his squad let calmer heads prevail with a cup tie and Liverpool on the horizon.
Coping with loss
Losing contact with the top four is difficult enough to take. But that horrible lost was made more difficult by losing Ndombele and Kane to injury.
Ndombele obviously had reason to be concerned about the prospect of getting injured. About eight minutes in Ndombele went down on a knee-to-knee collision. It was clear he wouldn’t be able to continue.
Ndombele was Tottenham’s best player, which makes it an even harder pill to swallow. As everyone else struggles under pressure, Ndombele dances and twists over and around the ball, leaving defenders grasping as he moves the ball to the next player.
The problem is more often than not that next player isn’t ready for the same pressure and rushes a flick or loses the ball with a poor touch or pass. Also, Tanguy would sometimes be better served playing the simple ball.
After a tight offside was “confirmed” by VAR, Kane limped off the field. Clearly clutching his hamstring, it is hard to say how long Kane will be out. Hamstrings are difficult injuries and depending on the severity, it could be anywhere from days too months for the injury to heal.
What’s next for Tottenham?
The injuries to Kane and Ndombele are a worrying sight for Mourinho and Spurs fans. It was in January last year when Spurs, who were firing on all cylinders, lost Kane and then Dele to injury. Tottenham battled, but slipped into a downward spiral that ultimately led to the firing of Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham only have a few days to recover as they face Middlesbrough in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday with a home match versus Liverpool in league the following weekend. How Spurs overcome this most current set of injuries may define the year, just as Kane and Dele’s injuries did last season.