Tottenham Hotspur twice took the lead but failed to maintain it as Wolves again completed the comeback to win away 2-3.
The game, and the result, had to feel familiar for Spurs fans, as Wolves pulled off another come from behind victory on the road at Tottenham Hotspur. Last season it was a 2-0 lead that Spurs spurned in the 2-3 loss. Today it was first 1-0, then 2-1, but it again ended 2-3 as Spurs’ defensive mistakes made life way too easy on Wolves.
Last week against Chelsea fans were disappointed at the team’s lack of drive, as Spurs parked the bus and tried to play on the counter. This week the shoe was on the other foot, with Wolves sitting in a defensive shell, ready to hit Spurs on the break. That strategy worked wonders for the away side today.
Tottenham dominated possession, accumulating nearly twice as many passes as Wolves, (617 to 322) leading to a massive 65 to 35 edge in possession. However, that possession didn’t lead to anything special, as Wolves took more shots than Spurs, 14 to 13. The reality was, with a bunch of short passers on the field, the ball moved too slowly from one side to the other.
Giovanni Lo Celso was effective spraying cross-field balls, the frequency of which diminished as the game went on. Likewise, Winks’ lack of creativity rendered too many lateral passes.
Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Winks, and Eric Dier had four of the five most touches of anyone on the pitch. You know the ball isn’t moving forward when that’s the case. Aurier played the best of the group, delivering on a few nice crosses and scoring Spurs second just before half-time.
The inability to play the ball effectively in the centre of the park has become as problematic for Spurs as their lack of a goal scoring threat. It is also in the middle of the park where Spurs lack the necessary steel.
Break-up the Break
When I say Victor Wanyama or Mousa Dembele, what comes to mind? Their relentless pressing of opponents deterred the opposition from playing through the centre of the pitch. Sure, that was just one facet of Dembele’s game, but it is his defensive prowess that is missed most by the current side.
As seen on Wolves’ winning goal, the absence of midfield steel is costing Tottenham dearly.
Diogo Joto managed to out battle Lucas Moura for the ball in Wolves half. He then dribbled uncontested for about 30 yards before laying it off. While Davinson Sanchez ran with him, there was no midfielder in sight. Raul Jimenez collected down the right and punished a rather porous Tottenham rearguard.
Tottenham have left themselves in a real predicament. Instead of being only two points out of 4th, Spurs sit tied for 7th on 40 points, level with Sheffield United. The Lilywhites are now five back of 4th place Chelsea and 10 back of Leicester City. While the point difference isn’t insurmountable, the deficit certainly is when you consider the brand of football Spurs are currently playing.