Four players made their Tottenham debut on Sunday afternoon at the Gtech Community Stadium, three of whom performed admirably.
Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie, and James Maddison enjoyed solid outings in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw against the Bees, while Guglielmo Vicario was the lone exception.
Ange Postecoglou also made his debut coaching Spurs and deserves credit for starting van de Ven, who has trained with the club for less than a week and had no previous match time with his new colleagues.
But that’s quintessential Ange, who usually takes the risk-forward avenue, making courageous decisions look easy.
Here’s a closer look at how each newbie performed in Spurs’ hard-fought draw in West London.
Spurs’ new No. 1 goalkeeper struggled in his opener, particularly with the ball at his feet. Slightly nervous and apprehensive, Vicario made two errors in the first half that could have been costly.
The Italian can’t be blamed on either Brentford goal, however.
Saving a penalty is as challenging as convincing @Plettigoal to stop tweeting about Harry Kane.
So there’s no shame in allowing one from the spot—quite the contrary. The second goal saw debutant van de Ven’s deflection take it past the helpless Vicario. Again, Vicario was completely faultless on the home side’s second.
Vicario made four saves, none of which were noticeably spectacular. He struggled with rebound control on a shot from a poor angle in the second half, parrying the ball into harm’s way.
The Italian’s rebound-control issues were well documented before Spurs signed him, so it wasn’t overly surprising to see him set Brentford up for a tasty follow-up opportunity.
Vicario settled down in the second half in possession and didn’t commit additional blunders. The 26-year-old will be a gem, forming the Spurs’ defensive line bedrock. However, he needs time to adapt and adjust and find a way to harness the nerves for his betterment.
Micky van de Ven
Oh, Micky, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you’re going to be the heart of Spurs’ spine. I didn’t think Micky would start, but I’m elated that Ange made the brave and correct decision.
The Dutchman wasn’t overly exposed and didn’t have to deal with many one-vs-one situations. His own goal was unfortunate, which probably wouldn’t have occurred with some previous match time with his new colleagues.
While Cristian Romero’s exit certainly didn’t help van de Ven adaptation process, the 22-year-old was otherwise solid.
He showcased his breakneck pace several times and looks silky smooth on the ball. He made 74 passes for a 95% success rate. Central defenders are expected to complete most of their passes, but van de Ven connected on a few with a much higher degree of difficulty.
He made two tackles and had five clearances, injecting supporters with anticipation and excitement.
For van de Ven to enjoy a sturdy, if not brilliant, debut without having any previous match time with his new colleagues shows just how exquisite an addition he is.
Spurs’ new No. 10 has some monstrously massive shoes to fill. He got off to a dream start, delivering a perfect free kick for Romero, who needed only a touch to send the ball flying into the net.
As expected, the Englishman was crafty on the ball, spraying it around the park with accuracy and purposeful intent. His precision from dead balls is joyful to watch. We haven’t seen somebody with his precision and whip since Christian Eriksen’s exit.
He had a shot on target and six key passes. Yes, six telling, incisive passes. That’s a brilliant reflection of his otherworldly passing ability.
He completed 89% of his passes and had 88 touches while delivering 12 crosses, nine more than any teammate. He also had an interception and one memorable tackle just inside Brentford’s half, showcasing his understated yet effective defending ability.
He committed one or two too many fouls, the only knock on the midfield maestro.
It feels like he needs more creative help, with Giovani Lo Celso the obvious option in Rodrigo Bentancur’s absence.
What a player.
Not only the pick of all debutants but also Tottenham’s best player. He is a beast whose athleticism is matched by his on-the-ball skillset. He makes marauding up and down the pitch look easy, which it most definitely isn’t.
Don’t let Udogie’s age deceive you. The 20-year-old belongs in the top flight and will soon be mentioned in conversations with the elite Premier League wingbacks.
He’s composed, rugged, strong, and fearless.
He’s also as good defensively as he is going forward, a crucially important balance for Ange’s inverted fullbacks.
Udogie had three interceptions, three tackles, a 94% passing accuracy, one key pass, and two accurate crosses. He had no shots on target, the one blemish in an otherwise near-flawless performance.
He was exposed on a few occasions, but that was more due to where Ange wants his fullbacks to play than any individual misgiving. Exceptional start for the Italian.