Tottenham Hotspur could be the most promising but at the same time the most confusing team in the Premier League. In one game they'll play the most advanced version of counter-pressing with great speed and precision, but in the following game they are unrecognizable, like when Chelsea crushed them in the FA Cup. Nevertheless, as I was watching the game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, I finally understood why Tottenham could not catch Chelsea in the title race. Although Michael Cox from the Guardian described the confusing situation as "versatility," I think Tottenham simply have not settled on a back up plan yet, and they naturally find themselves in extreme situations without a plan for a bad day.
First of all, the squad is made up of promising young players who have trouble controlling the game. When the wind is at Tottenham's back, this uncontrolled eagerness becomes lethal attacking power. Nonetheless, whenever their system breaks down, players find it hard to break the vicious circle. Against Arsenal, the team struggled to make two or three passes in a row under the high pressing and except the opportunities they found from the sloppiness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, their game was successfully nullified by Arsene Wenger's team.
At this point, I expected a solution or at least an attempt to change the situation from Mauricio Pochettino, but instead he let his team nearly breakdown under the high pressing tactic.
However, in the second half, Arsenal could not maintain their successful press in the opponent's half and Tottenham finally found enough time and space to organize attacks. Thus, two goals in three minutes were enough to seal the game, which was not fruitful in terms of opportunities. Then, as a characteristic feature of Tottenham Hotspur, the team managed to push the game even more into their opponent's half, with the titanic efforts of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama. Then, the game was between Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech and the Tottenham forwards, but I could not help thinking how it would have turned out if Arsenal had maintained their high press.
Of course, Arsene Wenger's decision to put only three men in defense gave a generous playground to Spurs forwards when the high press ended. But up until the second half, Tottenham were lost under the press and if Arsene Wenger had more precise plans in the final third, Spurs would certainly have been crushed. Therefore, I see Arsenal as the main subject of this game, and the change in momentum in the second half was caused by their inability to maintain their strategy.
I certainly find Tottenham Hotspur's game impressive when they are on top form, but in order to be champions in the Premier League you have to have a backup plan for the days when things don't quite click. Hence, unlike Cox, I do not think Spurs are versatile. They are almost perfect in certain games where the necessities of that game are fulfilled. In other words, if it is their day, Tottenham are the most dangerous team on the planet, otherwise they only seem like a good try.
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