Tottenham played confidently and fearlessly at the Gtech Community Stadium, coming away with a share of the spoils on the first Sunday of the 2023-23 Premier League campaign.
The opener was played at a breathless, torrid pace, something we can expect consistently in the new and exciting Ange Postecoglou regime. I’m confident speaking for every Spurs supporter in saying it’s a long time coming.
Yes, there will be teething issues.
There always is when instilling an altogether new mentality, a wildly different way of playing the beautiful game. It wasn’t always so beautiful under the previous regimes. Correction: It was never beautiful under the two most-recent gaffers, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
It is now, which is all that matters. So let’s collectively look forward and wholeheartedly support Ange’s revolution.
While there were countless new tidbits to discuss and analyze, I need help counting past three. So without further ado, here are the three most impactful things noticed from Spurs’ opener.
Oliver Skipp is not a No. 8
The Englishman is a lot of things, but a No. 8 he is not.
He wasn’t cemented to the attacking midfield role, as he and Yves Bissouma often interchanged and supported one another depending on the situation.
On an aside, the fluidity and increased interchanging is another positive aspect of Ange’s modern 4-3-3.
Skipp bagged two goals in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona, showcasing his ability to jump into the attack, find space in between the defence, and, most importantly, finish with aplomb.
However, Skipp has scored only one goal in 57 Premier League appearances. And while he will harry and press relentlessly, he’s not a creative footballer. That’s the cold, harsh reality. He can do a lot of things, but scoring and assisting are decisively outside his repertoire.
So, can he and Bissouma play together in the same midfield? It kind of reminds me of the old Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard debate. I’m not sure if you recall how that went. Spoiler alert. Not well, not well in the least.
Unless Ange plays with two defensive pivots, which ain’t going to happen, Skipp might have to eventually make way for a more offensive-minded player, like Giovani Lo Celso, or, as an even better option, Rodrigo Bentancur. The Uruguayan can’t return to proceedings fast enough.
Passes, possession, on-the-front-foot football played at a furious tempo
Watching Angeball injects an immeasurable amount of excitement, even adrenaline. You can also add anxiety to the equation. The latter will fade once the players come to grips with the new system and fully assimilate to Ange’s lofty expectations.
For now, though, it’s like the wild wild west. And I absolutely love it. Spurs had 70 percent of the ball. That’s not a typo. Yes, almost three-quarters of the time, Tottenham was in possession. It’s almost like Ange invented the adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
There are some teething issues to address, namely being exposed on both bylines due to the inverted fullbacks’ regularly advanced positions. But Spurs will shore things up defensively. It’s just a matter of time before they find the balance between pouring forward and defending the bylines more effectively.
Until then, sit back and enjoy the ride.
A four-goal first half could have been more. The two goals Spurs conceded came from a penalty and a Micky van de Ven own goal, which, as the initial shot was on target, they credited to Yoane Wissa.
Emerson Royal has found his shooting boots like a treasure hunter locating the gems and jewels he’s been searching for 80 years. It can’t be a coincidence he found them within two months of being under Ange’s guidance.
You can see plainly why Ange requires a centre-back gifted with van de Ven’s pace. He will be asked to mop up like a janitor cleaning the aftermath of a collegiate rave.
To reinforce the point, as if it’s needed, Spurs made 711 passes, had 907 touches, and 18 attempted shots. That more than doubled Brentford’s passes (306) and almost doubled the home side’s touches (499) and attempted shots (11).
An ineffective front three
For Angeball to yield optimal results, Spurs will need to be more ruthless in front of goal. With 18 shots on target, Tottenham must find a way to score more than two goals.
Now officially devoid of Harry Kane’s goals (almost made it through an entire article without mentioning his name), Tottenham’s reliance on Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski, and Son Heung-min has ascended meteorically.
It’s only one match, so there is no need to press the panic room button. But of Spurs’ first team, all three forwards had the worst player ratings. That can’t happen if Tottenham is going to pick up all three points consistently.
Again, let’s take a deep breath and give the lads the required patience.
Only two days removed from losing the club’s most prolific goalscorer, Son, Kulu, and Richarlison’s wounds are probably still raw. Mine definitely are.
And Tottenham hopes to add reinforcements, including a spectacular Gift that could come as early as this week.
Serenity now, goosfraba, and any other ridiculous calming words and techniques are required.
To clarify. I am not complaining, as that was the most promising Tottenham display in recent memory. From here, the only way is up.