Hart Shows What He Brings in Tottenham Shutout of LASK

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Joe Hart of Tottenham (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Joe Hart of Tottenham (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /
Joe Hart of Tottenham
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 22: Joe Hart of Tottenham (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

In Tottenham Hotspur’s first shutout of the season, 3-0 over LASK, Joe Hart demonstrated he still has the skills in the tank to contribute for Spurs.

Given the big names and difference makers brought into Tottenham Hotspur in the transfer market, the signing of Joe Hart barely raised a blimp on the radar. The common thinking was that Hart was brought in on the free to provide an additional homegrown number as the third keeper. Little did we know Hart would be the preferred back-up to Lloris and looks set to get some serious minutes.

After a mixed bag of either little to do or more than he could handle in the preseason, Joe Hart seems to have settled back between the sticks. On Thursday evening in London Hart was at his overbearing best as the Englishman dominated his box and much of the sound like a good keeper should.

Hart Doing His Job

Joe Hart did the main thing a keeper is supposed to do against LASK in stopping all the shots he faced and working to be in command of his penalty area. Joe had plenty of action, although most of it was standard fare for a goalie. Harts first touch came within the first minute, and his first save came on 11 minutes when he easily collected an effort from Husein Balic, who had made a 25-yard run with the ball to the edge of the penalty area.

The best of Joe Hart’s four saves came just before the half less than a minutes after Matt Doherty’s big block on Gernot Trauner. The play started as Gareth Bale lost his footing and was unable to bring in a long punt allowing LASK to gain possession. As the Austrian side worked the ball through it looked the play was over was a harmless cross was heading toward Ben Davies in the box.

Unaware of the time he had Davies had his lone bad moment of the evening as he awkwardly headed the ball straight down into the ground and possibly off his own arm. Without VAR and with no whistle blown play went on. As Spurs failed to clear the ball and Hojbjerg lost possession the ball fell perfectly for Andreas Gruber.

Gruber took a touch and blasted the ball toward the upper left corner of goal. As the ball came into view around Ben Davies, Hart jumped to his right and held out a strong right glove knocking the ball out of play for a corner. Hart’s last save of the evening came late in the game on the 88th minute grabbing a header off the line.

In addition to the saves, Joe Hart cut out at least five crosses on the evening, with the first coming within the first minute of the game. The more balls a keeper collects in the air, the more exacting crosses must be and the harder it becomes for a team to make hay with balls from out wide. Further, a strong keeping presence in the box is a defender’s best friend and Hart certainly is a strong presence if nothing else.

It is the ability to command the box, not the ability to stop shots, that separate Hart from Paulo Gazzaniga, last season’s back-up keeper. We only need to think back to Gazzaniga against Chelsea to remember how poor Gazzaniga’s decision making in the box can be at times. This does not mean Hart never makes mistakes, but he is sure in air and takes command of his penalty box.

Hart and Tottenham Tactics

The other thing you seem in Joe Hart is in how he contributes to Tottenham Hotspur’s tactics and ball movement. Hart will never be confused with Hugo Lloris in terms of his ability with his feet as a sweeper keeper, but Joe has shown composure and can do enough to handle the ball with his feet under pressure and keep it moving. He also has shown he knows when to simply kick the ball out too.

On top of the adequate play with his feet, Joe Hart has above average distribution once he has the ball and is like a coach on the pitch with his booming commands. Hart had 30 passes in the match with 11 coming with his hands and he completed all 11 of them. Not only is he accurate with his distribution he is quick as well, whether running up to the top of the box to punt long to an attacker or stepping up to throw the ball out wide to a winger.

On one play in particularly Hart looked like a quarterback playing flag football stepping up in the pocket and firing a long left-handed strike to Gareth Bale who was then running up the line and attacking. Seven of Hart’s 30 passes went to either Lucas Moura or Gareth Bale as he worked to quickly attack the wings and start the Tottenham break.

Finally, as we learn to drown out the artificial crowd noise being pumped through our feeds, some parts of the game are easier to hear than others. A few matches ago the overwhelming voice throughout was that of Jose Mourinho. On this evening, the voice most often heard was that of Joe Hart.

Whether it was yelling for Vinicius to press, Sanchez to close out, or the entire team to push out following a clearance, Joe Hart made sure the team knew what he wanted. For years Hugo Lloris has led mostly by example as the captain in the net. Over the last year with Jose Mourinho in charge that has begun to change, and Hart was just following Lloris’ lead and the orders laid forth by their leader.

As the whistle blew and Tottenham finally got their clean sheet, Joe Hart smiled, pumped his fist, and jogged off the field. This was the action of a man who knew what he had done was important and knew he would likely do it again before the end of the season. Just as shaky ends can lead to more shaky ends, shutouts can lead to more shutouts. Let us hope this is the first of many for Tottenham this season.