After last week’s frustrating 3-3 draw with LASK, it was tough to take any real positives from that performance. However, a point against the Austrian side meant that Spurs had cemented their place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
Despite qualification being wrapped up, Spurs sat second in Group J. Meaning they needed to beat Royal Antwerp in the last game of the group to finish first.
Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side that won 2-0 in last Sunday’s North London derby against Arsenal. Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso being the only two remaining in the starting eleven.
Tottenham seemed to be in control of the game from start to finish, as Antwerp failed to register a single shot on target during the 90 minute affair.
With the score still at 0-0, half-time saw Reguilon make way for winger Steven Bergwijn, as Mourinho decided to shuffle the pack by going to a back four for the remaining 45 minutes.
Although looking comfortable, it took until the 57th minute and a moment of brilliance from Gareth Bale for Spurs to find a breakthrough.
The Welshman stood over a free-kick from at least 30 yards away and launched a rocket of a strike towards the top right corner, which was somehow tipped onto the post by Beiranvand.
Carlos Vinicius was the first to react to the loose ball, finishing into an empty net to give Spurs a 1-0 lead in front of 2,000 loyal supporters.
Bizarrely, Jose Mourinho made a triple substitution seconds after taking the lead, with the goalscorer Carlos Vinicius making way alongside Gareth Bale and Harry Winks for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Tanguy Ndombele.
To nobody’s surprise the substitutes settled into the game instantly. A nice piece of linkup play between Bergwijn and Son resulted in Beiranvand having to turn away another shot which could have doubled Tottenham’s lead.
The changes didn’t stop there for the North London side, as in the 68th minute Moussa Sissoko was introduced at the expense of Lucas Moura.
Two minutes later, Lo Celso latched onto a Kane through ball and guided an outside the boot finish into the bottom left corner.
The Argentine put in a performance of the highest quality: recording an 82% pass success rate, twelve recoveries, four crosses, four chances created, six dribbles completed and scoring a goal.
Lo Celso’s performance may have spoken for itself but it didn’t stop Jose Mourinho from adding further praise.
“He was at a high level last season but got an injury and didn’t have a pre-season.
“He’s playing in the Europa League and coming off the bench in the Premier League. He played the last match well and this match very well. This is more like normal Gio.
“When he’s fit he can show that the intensity is there.”
The result now means that Spurs sit atop of the Premier League and their Europa League group and now look forward to the Round of 32 draw.
The possible opponents for the Round of 32 consist of Krasnodar, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiakos, Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys, Molde, Slavia Prague, Lille, Benfica, Granada, Real Sociedad, Braga, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Wolfsburg and Crvena Zvezda.
After another round of seemingly pointless international fixtures, Tottenham return to action this Saturday in their biggest game of the season yet, home to Manchester City.
Spurs will be wanting to build on the momentum they had heading into the break, as Jose Mourinho’s men are currently on a three game winning streak – scoring six goals and conceding twice.
The Portuguese would have hoped to have the entire squad at his disposal for the upcoming set of fixtures, however Matt Doherty’s positive COVID-19 test has thrown a spanner into the works.
Doherty was one of two players to test positive after the game against Wales, along with James McClean.
He will now be forced to isolate away from the squad for ten days, ruling him out of Saturday’s clash with Manchester City and potentially Thursday’s Group J tie against Ludogoretes.
However Spurs did receive some good fortune as Welsh trio Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon all tested negative for the virus.
Gareth Bale, who was pictured embracing his Tottenham teammate after the game against Republic of Ireland, admitted that he felt ‘concerned’ upon hearing the news.
“It’s a slight concern for everybody when you’ve been playing someone and you’re in close contact with them on the field, Bale said.
“Maybe you’re not long enough with them to catch it, but you’re a bit wary.”
Bale later gave an update on Doherty’s condition, as he and Ben Davies had spoken to the right-back.
“Me and Ben have spoken to him briefly and he’s doing fine, he’s just got mild symptoms.
“Hopefully he recovers fine, doesn’t have any problems and will be back playing as soon as possible.”
Tottenham vs Manchester City has fast become one of the most entertaining fixtures in world football, with classics such as their Champions League quarter final in 2019, which saw Spurs reach their first ever semi-final in the competition on away goals (4-4 on aggregate).
The Lilywhites were able to take the three points in their most recent encounter with City, as goals from Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son resulted in a 2-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Surprisingly, Spurs were able to remain undefeated against the Citizens last season, picking up four points from a possible six.
Heung-Min Son will be looking to build on the form which has helped him win Premier League Player of the Month for October. The winger has been directly involved in six of Tottenham’s ten goals over the course of the month – scoring four goals and assisting two.
The South Korean will also be looking to add to his impressive record against Manchester City, which boasts five goals in his last seven appearances.
Saturday’s game kicks off a tough set of league fixtures for Tottenham with the likes of Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester City to be played in the next few weeks.
Having recently come away with a 1-0 victory against West Brom, Spurs currently sit 2nd in the table with just a point separating themselves from league leaders Leicester City.
Spurs have a record of five wins, two draws and a single loss in the Premier League this season but if they want to be viewed as title contenders, then this is the time to make their intentions known.
In contrast to Spurs, Manchester City come into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola’s men have not lived up to their pre-season expectations so far and currently find themselves in 10th position, having only won three of their first seven fixtures in the league.
A win for City could see them jump to fifth in the table, depending on other results going in their favour.
Tottenham team news:
The absence of Matt Doherty has put Serge Aurier in prime position to make a return to the starting line-up. Aurier has seen his playing time reduced since the arrival of Doherty, only appearing in two of Spurs’ opening eight league games.
Versatile defender Japhet Tanganga has missed the majority of the season through injury, but is now in contention to be included in Jose Mourinho’s squad.
However Steven Bergwijn is not expected to feature, having returned to Spurs early into the international break due to a groin injury.
Erik Lamela remains out as he continues to rehabilitate from a foot injury.
Sergio Aguero is unlikely to feature, as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Raheem Sterling is expected to make an appearance, despite damaging his calf whilst on England duty last week. The forward was released from the camp early in order to undergo fitness testing with Man City.
Harry Kane’s 88th minute winner against West Brom last Sunday made it three wins on the bounce for Jose Mourinho’s side, but now the squad prepares for the international break, with many players set to be involved.
With such a talented group at the disposal of Jose Mourinho it is no surprise that Spurs’ squad boasts 13 senior internationals.
The following players have been selected for the upcoming international fixtures:
Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Eric Dier (England), Gareth Bale, Ben Davies, Joe Rodon (Wales), Hugo Lloris, Moussa Sissoko (France), Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina), Matt Doherty (Ireland), Sergio Reguilon (Spain), Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Heung-Min Son (South Korea)
On loan midfielder Gedson Fernandes has been called up to represent Portugal’s U21 side. While Norwich and Hoffenheim loanees Oliver Skipp and Ryan Sessegnon have been called up for the England U21 side.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is set to withdraw from the Danish national team due to Denmark recently being removed from the exempt travel list for Coronavirus just four days ago.
The Premier League has advised players to not travel to Denmark for the upcoming fixtures, as the government have put restrictions into place which would see anybody returning to the UK from Denmark having to isolate for 14 days.
If Hojbjerg had gone on to play for his country then he would have missed Tottenham’s next three fixtures against Manchester City (November 21st), Ludogorets (November 26th) and Chelsea (November 29th).
Gareth Bale’s return to the Wales squad has caused a stir in the media, as Jose Mourinho voiced his displeasure with the winger’s fitness being observed by Arsenal coach Albert Stuivenberg.
The Tottenham manager had this to say. “Because for the previous fixtures he called me, we spoke about Ben Davies – not Gareth Bale because Gareth was not there.
“We shared opinions on the situation, which is probably not going to happen this time.
“And the fact that one of the coaches is an Arsenal coach does not make me very comfortable. Honestly, it does not make me very comfortable.
“National team matches should have coaches that work exclusively for them, not coaches who work for other clubs.
“They have to manage the minutes that he plays and they should not let him get to fatigue levels”.
Bale has been making good progress since returning to Spurs, which saw him rewarded with his first Premier League start in 7 years against West Brom.
Some Spurs players will be going head-to-head with one another over the next two weeks, as Matt Doherty’s Ireland will go up against an England team consisting of Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Eric Dier. Before he travels to Wales in order to play another Spurs trio made up of Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon.
Kane, Dier and Winks won’t only have to face off against Doherty during the break, as they also go to Belgium on the 15th November to lock horns with Toby Alderweireld in the Nations League.
Tanguy Ndombele, who suffered a minor injury against West Brom, will not be joining up with the French national team and will remain at the club in preparation for the resumption of the Premier League.
Steven Bergwijn has also returned to Hotspur Way after withdrawing from the Netherlands squad due to injury, whilst training alone for the two days of camp he was there.
Tottenham’s next six fixtures in the Premier League consist of Manchester City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester.
Jose Mourinho will want his players managed carefully over the course of the next two weeks as the upcoming months will give an indication into how far Spurs are from reaching their ambitions for the season.
It’s been quite an eventful campaign for Spurs this year. From Nuno Espírito Santo’s short tenure to the rollercoaster ride under Antonio Conte. The North London side have managed to prove the doubters wrong (including the man in charge) and finish in the Champions League places for the 22/23 season.
While many will rightfully applaud the team for how they ended the season, the hardwork from the hierarchy has only just begun. ENIC’s investment of £150m created excitement amongst the fanbase and the arrival of Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic is sure to do the same.
According to football.london the 33-year-old signed a deal worth €6million (£5.1m) a year, which works out at £98,000 a week.
Perisic and Conte have quite the history with one-another, winning the Serie A title with Inter Milan a year ago, so there should be no surprise that the Croatian was a priority for the Italian coach.
The signing of Perisic signals a change in policy for Spurs, as the 33-year-old joins the club with minimal resale value, a trait that is almost unheard of under Daniel Levy’s reign. However, what the Croatian brings to the club is leadership and a winning mentality, having racked up a tremendous number of accolades including two Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal’s, DFL Supercup, Serie A title, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italia and a UEFA Champions League.
English fans especially may remember Perisic for his breathtaking performance in the 2018 World Cup, scoring against England in the semi-final of the competition. Before netting another in the final against France, although Croatia would be on the losing end of that fixture.
Viewed as a wing-back by many, Perisic is able to play in a multitude of different positions such as left midfield, attacking midfielder, shadow striker and is comfortable enough with both feet to be played on the right if needed too.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing between Perisic and his soon-to-be manager, Antonio Conte. The Italian would originally struggle to find a position for Perisic in his system at Inter. “He can’t play in the role that I want at Inter,” said Conte.
The lack of fit would lead to Perisic being sent to German giants, Bayern Munich for the 19/20 campaign. A spell in Germany would see the out-of-favour Inter man register 8 goals and 10 assists in 35 games – including goals against Chelsea, Barcelona and an assist in the DFB Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen.
Although Perisic had performed to a respectable level at the Allianz Arena, it wasn’t enough for Bayern to take up the option to buy him from Inter, once again leaving the player’s future up in the air.
Luckily enough for Perisic, the tide had turned under Antonio Conte as the self-proclaimed ‘serial winner’ was able to find a role for him in his system. A position that would re-shape the career of the Croatia star – left wing-back.
Perisic would register 5 goals and 5 assists in his first season in his new role, helping lead Inter to their first league title in eleven years.
Despite Conte stepping down from his role at the end of the season, the arrival of Simone Inzaghi would coincide with an elevated level of performance from the Inter veteran. Perisic registered 10 goals and 9 assists in 49 games across all competitions – scoring twice in the 4-2 Coppa Italia final victory against Juventus.
Inter would end the season having qualified for the round of 16 stage of the Champions League for the first time since the 2011/12 season, winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italia. Taking Perisic’s trophy tally with the club to three before deciding to close the door on a wonderful chapter in his illustrious career.
Having garnered interest from the likes of Chelsea and Juventus, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Croatian star would be suiting up in a different colour next season. However, Tottenham’s rise under Conte has created an interesting proposition for many of the world’s best footballers.
“It’s a privilege to work again with a coach like this, we did well at Inter, won the league after 10 or 11 years, it was a perfect year. I’m really happy to see him again. I think we’re going to do some good things here in England.
“He’s living football, every minute, every hour every day, even when he’s sleeping, he’s thinking about football! He’s so passionate. He wants to win. I like this character and I know we’re going to do a great job here.”
“I was watching [the last few games] after the victory against Arsenal, it was obvious that Tottenham would be in the Champions League,” said Perisic.
With the departure of Sergio Reguilon looming, Spurs will be hoping that Perisic can mentor Ryan Sessegnon into becoming his eventual successor. The England U21 international has seen his Tottenham career resurrected under Conte, having spent last season on loan at Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.
Being able to secure a deal for Perisic before the transfer window officially opens will go a long way in trying to match the ambition of Antonio Conte, who has reportedly requested a minimum of six signings this summer.
Spurs will be expecting Perisic to continue his form into next season’s campaign, in an attempt to bring some long overdue silverware back to the club.
The Antonio Conte era at Tottenham Hotspur is truly past it’s honeymoon phase. After a string of poor results that saw Spurs lose to the likes of Wolves, Southampton, Burnley and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, it confirms another trophy-less season for the Italian’s side.
That being said, Spurs showed the potential of the club in a courageous, passion filled performance at the Etihad stadium. Completing the double over reigning champions Manchester City, as well as the thrashings of Everton and Leeds United.
Spurs find themselves 5th at the time of writing following a win against West Ham, three points off 4th placed rivals Arsenal having played a game more, yet the inconsistency of this Spurs side remains the biggest frustration for the Lilywhites faithful.
Antonio Conte is one of the best managers to ever stand on a touchline and the philosophy he wants to implement at Tottenham is slowly becoming clearer to see.
Defensive solidity, an ability to build up from the back, attacking wing backs executing a direct wing play system and a never say die fighting spirit. That is the expectation from the fervent Italian.
However, it is obvious that he does not have all the right tools for success.
Director of Football Fabio Paratici laid siege to the Tottenham squad in the January window, in an attempt to begin the ‘painful rebuild’ former manager Mauricio Pochettino had spoken about in 2019.
Tanguy Ndombele, Giovanni Lo Celso and Bryan Gil all left on loan, while Dele Alli left permanently for Everton.
Spurs brought in Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, two players who have made immediate contributions, with Bentancur showing the calmness and forward thinking that the Spurs midfield has lacked, while Kulusevski has 6 goals/assists in 9 Premiere League games at the time of writing.
Unfortunately, this was not enough at all. With just 4 senior midfielders, the persistent injury that Oliver Skipp is dealing with and an injury to Bentancur against Burnley left Conte with just Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as senior midfielders.
This midfield lacks any form of creativity and is a much more ‘safe and secure’ pairing, which was evident in the 1-0 loss to EFL Championship side Middlesborough.
In addition, the performances of Emerson Royal have been so poor that he has been displaced by Matt Doherty, a player who was on the verge of being sold in January, fuelling Spurs fans anger at the board for not securing a new right wing-back after chasing Barcelona’s Adama Traore for 28 days of the window.
With Conte himself saying that on paper the Spurs side had weakened in January, it is imperative that he is backed all the way in the summer.
With that said, 3 positions Spurs need to strengthen are: a new right wing-back, a creative midfielder and a left sided central defender.
Left Central Defender
Antonio Conte has always had tough tackling, mentally strong, capable ball playing central defenders in his time as a manager. The list includes Giorgio Chiellini, Leanardo Bonucci, Milan Skriniar and so on. At Tottenham, Eric Dier and Cristian Romero look to be 2 of the 3 defenders Conte needs.
Conte has had relative success deploying Ben Davies as the left centre-back in the 3-4-3, but the Welshman simply has too many flaws to be a starter in a team that supposedly has aspirations beyond achieving a top four place.
Josko Gvardiol has been a revelation on the left-centre side of RB Liepzig’s 4 man defence and would be a step in the right direction for Tottenham.
Ben Davies has used his understanding of his natural left full-back position to great use in the back 3, stepping forward and carrying the ball, playing one-two’s with the wing back. This is a tactical facet that will not be lost with Gvardiol.
Having failed to secure the signing of Adama Traore in January, the conundrum Spurs face at right wing-back has persisted. 25 million pound signing Emerson Royal is more suited to a full-back role in a back 4, and Matt Doherty has never truly discovered his form from his days at Wolves in a Tottenham shirt.
Singo looks like the perfect player to lock down the wing-back spot on the right hand side of Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side and at just 21 years old, suits the long term transfer strategy that Fabio Paratici wants to implement in the recruitment department at Tottenham.
After watching Aston Villa steal Phillipe Coutinho on a well structured loan deal where the Brazilian has contributed 7 goals/assists in 9 appearances, Spurs fans were again left frustrated at the clubs failure to acquire a creative midfielder.
It has been over 2 years since creative fulcrum Christian Eriksen parted ways with Spurs and the hole he left behind in the starting eleven remains prominent.
A potential transfer for Spurs would be Atalanta’s Russian Malinovskyi. The Ukrainian has scored 10 and assisted 5 in all competitions this season, and is playing 1.6 key passes per match in Serie A, the same as Coutinho, although neither come close to Eriksen’s 3.6 in the 16/17 season.
Malinovskyi’s is also a specialist set piece taker, another quality that walked out the door of Hotspur Way in Enfield with Eriksen.
With Malinovskyi’s contract expiring in 2023, Atalanta may be easier to negotiate with in the coming summer transfer window.
It is clear to see that Daniel Levy wants Tottenham Hotspur to end their 14 year trophy doubt sooner rather than later, but it is time for the chairman to put his money where his mouth is, rather than penny pinching in order to secure bargain deals.
Antonio Conte is a manager who is known for walking away from jobs when he is not given the players to win titles, and if Levy wants to prevent another managerial appointment ending in flames, he must act decisively in the coming transfer window.
Following the sacking of Nuno Espirito Santo on the 1st of November 2021 after just 17 games in charge, Spurs and Director of Football Fabio Paratici moved swiftly for their top choice from this summer; Antonio Conte.
The serial winner who has won titles with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter, and also took a poor Italian National side to the quarter finals of Euro 2016 needed to hit the ground running with a game against Vitesse in the European Conference League taking place just 2 days after his appointment.
From the first game against Vitesse, Conte immediately switched the formation from the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 hybrid system Nuno used to his favoured back three, going for a 3-4-3 with Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura flanking Harry Kane.
Spurs immediately looked more comfortable in possession of the ball with the pairing of Hojbjerg and Skipp screening the defence, and also looked more motivated, leading to Spurs being 3-0 up in half an hour.
The second goal in particular, was a beautifully executed passage of build up spanning over 30 seconds, which saw Spurs go back to their centre backs after initial build up broke down and then carve through Vitesse with some slick interplay between Kane and Moura.
However, Spurs then crumbled, conceding 2 quick goals from Vitesse and suffering for large parts of the second half, following Cuti Romero’s red card. They held out for the win, with Conte praising his players for “Suffering as a team”.
A 0-0 draw followed at Everton, which despite being a quiet game, showcased Conte’s emphasis on his wingbacks playing high up with an attacking threat, as both Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon had chances to score.
This faith in his wingbacks paid off for Conte in the next fixture against Leeds. 1-0 down at half time, Spurs came out after the break a different team. An equaliser from Hojbjerg was followed by a winner from Sergio Reguilon.
Spurs outran Bielsa’s Leeds, a shock as spurs averaged just 100 KM covered under Nuno. This was a testament to Conte and his demands for hard work and maximum effort from his players.
Going into the break Spurs had accumulated an xG of just 0.07, but they finished the game with an xG of 2.16, showing clearly Conte’s ability to motivate his players at half time.
Further wins followed against Brentford and Norwich, where despite a better opening from the Canaries, Spurs were in control.
However, it is the match against Liverpool which has shown the early signs of what Spurs can achieve under Conte.
Conte has shown a desire to switch from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 when necessary and he started the game against Liverpool with a 3-5-2.
An unfamiliar midfield of Dele, Ndombele and Winks started, but despite the uncertainty, this worked to great effect.
Spurs started slow but grew into the game and had a passage in the first half where they scored just one, but could have easily scored 3.
Further chances went begging in the second half, and following Andy Robertson’s goal that looked to have won the game for Liverpool, Spurs refused to let their heads drop.
Harry Winks played a glorious pass that broke the Liverpool lines to Son, who, with a bit of fortune, finished after Allisons mistake.
Spurs pressed on after Robertson was sent off, but could not find the winner. Finishing the game with an xG of 2.62 to Liverpool’s 1.52, many Spurs fans see it as two points dropped rather than one gained.
To sum it up, Antonio Conte has immediately been able to get his ideas across to this current crop of Tottenham Hotspur players.
Spurs look fitter, more interested and more dangerous following the switch to a back three and Conte’s emphasis on working hard until the final whistle is blown.
Standout names include Ben Davies, Eric Dier and Harry Winks, all players Spurs fans had given up on but players that clearly want to step it up and avoid the axe from the new boss.
With the January transfer window on the horizon, Conte and Paratici can begin to tune the squad to Conte’s needs. The future seems bright for Spurs, as they look to end their (almost) 14 year wait for a trophy.
Since being branded by Pep Guardiola as “The Harry Kane team” in October 2017, Spurs’ ability to perform without their talisman has been repeatedly called into question, ill helped by a few poor performances in his absence and a plethora of goals coming from him season after season. However, whilst at a glance this claim may seem to be valid, the more one looks into it, the more inaccurate it becomes.
The purpose of this piece is to gauge how well the team as a whole copes with Kane, without Kane, and who stepped up to fill the void left by one of the most prolific strikers in the world today.
2014/15- The Breakout Season
At the age of 21 and playing alongside two experienced strikers in Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. Kane had a lot to learn in his first full season as part of the 1st team. Fortunately, for the recently appointed Mauricio Pochettino, he found his feet very quickly, scoring twice in League Cup games before scoring his first Premier League goal of the season against Aston Villa in November. As the season progressed, Kane would start more and more matches, repaying Poch’s faith in him with many goals, particularly in big games. Due to two other seasoned strikers being at the club during this season, Kane’s absence was not seen as a problematic scenario. However, neither striker particularly provided a reliable source of goals, with the likes of Eriksen and Chadli seemingly stepping up in big games.
1/1/2015- Spurs 5-3 Chelsea
The game many Spurs fans will remember to this day, simply for how exciting it was to watch and how crucial the result was for the team. The Kane inspired side dismantled the Mourinho outfit, with Kane scoring twice, as well as winning a penalty which would be converted by Townsend. It’s safe to say without the Englishman, Chelsea would have extended their lead at the top of the league.
31/1/2015 – West Brom 0-3 Spurs
A Kane brace brought Tony Pulis’ unbeaten start as West Brom manager to an end. This put Kane on 10 League goals for the season, 20 in all competitions. Kane was also close to a hat-trick this game, with a fierce free kick forcing Foster into making a great save.
7/2/2015 – Spurs 2-1 Arsenal
A Kane brace dragged Spurs past fierce rivals Arsenal, having fallen behind due to a Mesut Ozil goal. After converting a Moussa Dembele flick, Kane rose above everyone else to head home the winner in front of a jubilant crowd at White Hart Lane. Undoubtedly without the intervention of Kane and his prolific goal scoring ability, Spurs would have lost to their neighbours and fans would have been subject to more jeers and teasing until the next derby.
10/2/2015 – Liverpool 3-2 Spurs
Another fine Harry Kane goal, his 23rd in all competitions for the season, wasn’t enough to give Spurs a point, as a late Balotelli goal won the 3 points for the hosts. This goal was his 8th of 2015, taking him level with Lionel Messi in Europe’s top 5 leagues, a sign of the heights he would eventually reach. Overall, the performance was strong, with Tottenham looking as though they would at least take a point from the fixture. However, it seems a lack of experience got the better of Pochettino’s team, as the goal came from a lapse in concentration from Dembele awarding Liverpool a free kick, which Balotelli would score from. Realistically, there was no more Kane could have done in this game, possibly the start of him being let down by teammates in games, where he had performed to the best of his ability. Without Kane playing, Spurs did not win a single game in the league, with 3 losses and a draw, compared to the 19 wins and 6 draws when he was available. It was clear to see that despite his age, Spurs had found a prolific striker in Kane to build their squad around.
15/16 – One Season Wonder
Fresh off his first full season in the top flight of English football, Kane would be making headlines. 31 goals in all competitions for a player is no easy feat, deservingling earning the striker many plaudits. However, for all these plaudits, there were just as many critics, with many branding him “a one season wonder”. Unfazed by all of the talk surrounding him and his ability, Kane duly silenced anyone questioning his ability, scoring 25 league goals for the season and 28 in all competitions. Playing all but 3 games for the season. Kane greatly impressed, especially considering he was only 22 at the time. In his absence, Erik Lamela was the man to step up, scoring 4 goals in the 3 games Kane was absent for in the Europa league.
26/9/2015 – Spurs 4-1 Man City
Harry Kane’s first goal in the league after 748 minutes helped Spurs deliver Man City’s second successive defeat. Kane had many close calls, firing wide before being denied by Caballero, before following up on a Christian Eriksen free kick that had come off the post. This seemed to be the start of Kane’s ‘annual August curse’ a problem that seems to occur every season until recently.
4/10/2015 – Swansea 2-2 Spurs
Whilst the score sheet might not reflect it because of Kane’s own goal, he still found the ways to create and get into the right areas, showing that despite the lack of goals, he still has the instinct of a great striker. Two Eriksen free kicks were enough to salvage a point for Spurs in a display that arguably should have seen the away side come away as the victor.
25/10/2015 – Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs
A hat-trick for Kane helped Spurs dispatch of the Cherries convincingly. Kane’s first would be the equaliser, a penalty which he had won after being brought down by the Bournemouth keeper. Kane would then assist Lamela for Tottenham’s third goal, before turning in Eriksen’s cross for his second. Kane would eventually take advantage of an error from the Bournemouth goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick. This was only Kane’s second premier league hat-trick of his career and took his goal tally for the season to 4, having failed to score in his 13 previous appearances.
8/5/2016 – Spurs 1-2 Southampton
In the penultimate game of the season, Spurs suffered a defeat at the hands of Southampton. Heung-min Son would score the first goal of the game before a Steven Davis brace would seal the win for the visitors. Kane would have a relatively quiet game, not really challenging the Southampton defence.
16/17 – The First Bump in the Road to Greatness.
After two promising seasons, Spurs fans had hoped that this season would be the one where Kane took the club towards that final step. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the North London side, as Kane would suffer two separate ankle injuries at either end of the season, ruling him out of crucial fixtures which may have allowed Spurs to beat Chelsea to the title. Despite only playing 38 games of a possible 53 in all competitions, Kane still managed an extremely impressive haul of 35 goals, a true display of his determination to push through injuries in order to help out his teammates. During his absences, Spurs would win 5 and drew 3 of the 8 league games, with the likes of Heung-min Son and Dele Alli stepping in to fill the role of goal scorer.
26/2/2017 – Spurs 4-0 Stoke City
A 23 minute first half Harry Kane hat-trick would help Spurs walk away with a 4-0 win against The Potters. This would be Kane’s second hat-trick in as many games, and his third in 9 games. The first was a trademark low driven shot into the bottom corner, while the second was a delightful left footed half volley from an Eriksen corner. The third would be slightly more fortunate, but still a well worked routine regardless, as Eriksen laid Kane off from a free kick before his shot deflected off Crouch, leaving the Stoke keeper helpless to stop it. Alli rounded off the scoring, added a fourth after sliding Kane’s cross into the back of the net.
1/4/2017 – Burnley 0-2 Spurs
With Kane suffering from his second ankle injury of the season, Spurs needed a man to step up. Wanyama and Winks had both been forced off with injuries before Janssen fell to the same fate. The hero came in the guise of Son, who came off the bench for Janssen and scored the second goal to ensure the victory for Spurs, following Dier’s opener.
5/4/2017- Swansea 1-3 Spurs
With Kane still out through injury, Son, Alli and Eriksen were the men to step up once again. Eriksen would arguably be the standout performer, scoring the third – a delightful curling effort and assisting Alli’s equaliser. However, Kane’s presence was evidently still missed with all 3 of Spurs’ goals coming in the last 10 minutes of the match, 8 of which were in added time.
8/4/2017 – Spurs 4-0 Watford
Goals from Alli, Dier and a brace from Son saw Spurs cruise past Watford at White Hart Lane. With Kane still recovering from his second ankle injury of the season, Son was the player to step up, scoring in the 44th and 54th minute whilst finding a way to assist Alli for the opener. Kane would make a second half appearance, striking the bar with a late free kick as the final action of the game.
17/18 – Back to Business
After spending a great deal of the previous season injured, Kane quickly found his stride again, totalling 30 league goals for the season, 41 from 48 in all competitions – one of his best goal to game ratios yet. Having only suffered a small hamstring injury in October and an ankle injury that coincided with the international break, Kane only missed 3 club games through injury over the course of the season. It appeared to Spurs fans that after last season’s double injury scare was a thing of the past and that their star man was back to his very best. With Kane being fully fit for all but 3 games, 2 of which were losses, Christian Eriksen was seemingly the man to step up, scoring a brace in the FA Cup Sixth Round against Swansea.
13/1/2018 Spurs 4-0 Everton
A Harry Kane brace sandwiched between goals from Son and Eriksen saw Spurs dispose of Everton. The two goals from Kane would see him surpass Teddy Sheringham as Spurs’ all time Premier League top scorer, with 98 goals to his name at the time. This would also take Kane to 20 league goals for the season, with 28 in 28 across all competitions. Eriksen would score a beautifully worked team goal, with every player having a touch of the ball, while Son arguably deserved more than the one goal he did get, seeing a shot rebound off the post.
11/3/2018 Bournemouth 1-4 Spurs
With Kane suffering an ankle injury early in the first half, Spurs produced two late goals to see off Bournemouth, with Son once again proving his worth with a brace. After Stanislas opened the scoring in the opening 10 minutes, Dele would equalise 10 minutes before half time. Son once again would put Spurs ahead with a scuffed volley beating Begovic before rounding the keeper to put away his second. Serge Aurier added a late far post header to cement Spurs’ victory.
17/3/18 Swansea 0-3 Spurs
With Harry Kane ruled out through the same ankle injury he’d sustained in the previous season, Eriksen would deliver a brace, either side of Lamela’s goal to send Spurs to the semi final of the FA Cup. Kane, who had 53 goals in 53 matches at the time, was not missed it seemed, with Eriksen simply having the Swans on strings throughout the 90, with the score reflecting the dominance of the visitors.
14/4/2018 – Spurs 1-3 Manchester City
A generally disappointing display from both Kane and Spurs would see City leave Wembley with all 3 points, despite Eriksen’s goal causing panic for the visitors, who had just recently blown a 2 goal advantage against Manchester United. Eriksen’s goal came from a niche Harry Kane through ball, having his shot rebound off Laporte and then off himself before it ended up in the back of the net. The defeat ended an unbeaten run of 14 games in the league for Spurs, a streak that started after the 4-1 loss to City in December.
18/19 – History Without Kane
The England captain had a rollercoaster of a 2018-19 campaign to say the least. Many would have expected Kane to follow up his 41 goal season with something similar, however ligament injuries would force Tottenham’s talisman to miss a total of 16 matches.
A shortened season for Kane would lead to his worst Premier League scoring tally in five years, having registered 17 goals in 28 appearances. However, the former golden boot winner would hold his own when it came to continental competition – scoring 5 goals in 9 appearances.
6/11/18 – Spurs 2-1 PSV
Tottenham’s hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League hung in the balance, as the team welcomed Dutch side PSV to England. Luuk De Jong would give the visitors the lead in the 2nd, through a towering header over Alderweireld. With only 20 minutes of action remaining Tottenham needed to step it up a gear if they wished to come away with a victory, which of course Harry Kane was able to do. Fernando Llorente would knock the ball down for the England captain to rifle into the back of the PSV net, before adding a second goal with a minute to go. Kane would rightfully receive plaudits after the match, due to the superhuman effort he had put forward in being able to will his side to victory on such a frustrating night.
With Kane on the sidelines, many wondered if Spurs would be able to cope with the situation – something they were sure able to do.
Six wins, one draw and three losses would be enough for the Kaneless Tottenham Hotspur to secure qualification for the 19/20 Champions League, a feat that many had expected from the North London side to start the season.
Although qualification had been achieved, Mauricio Pochettinho’s side had their sights set on something bigger, as Tottenham were able to go on a historical run without ‘one of their own’ culminating in the club reaching its first ever Champions League final.
8/5/19 – Ajax 2-3 Spurs
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Spurs made the worst possible start in Amsterdam when a towering 5th header from Matthijs de Ligt doubled the advantage for the Dutch side. Hakim Ziyech would double Ajax’s lead with a sweeping finish in the 35th minute. Lucas Moura would reduce the deficit with a composed finish in the 55th minute. The Brazilian would not take no for an answer during the contest as he would tuck another shot into the back of the Ajax net four minutes later, creating a tense atmosphere for the rest of the match. Lucas Moura would write his name into Spurs history in the 96th minute of action, completing his hat-trick with a left-footed effort from 16 yards out.
With immortality on the line, Harry Kane would rush back from injury in time to play in club football’s biggest fixture. Spurs’ attempt to have the best team available for the final would all be for nothing, as Harry Kane would have little to no impact against Liverpool culminating in a 2-0 victory for the Kop.
The 2018-19 season will always be surrounded with hypotheticals and questions of what could have been but it’s safe to say that Spurs proved to the world that they were not over reliant on their number 10.
Harry Kane would finish the season with 24 goals in 40 appearances.
19/20 – Disappointment All Around
Having experienced football’s elite competition like never before, Tottenham fans and players alike would have hoped to overcome that final barrier and cement themselves among the best. Mauricio Pochettino would look to improve the squad which came so close to history with the addition of record signing Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon and most importantly a fit and hungry Harry Kane.
Although being one of the best players in English football, critics were beginning to question whether Spurs have more chance of success without their star striker, following the unexpected run to the Champions League final in his absence.
Spurs’ start to the season was well below what many had predicted for the North London side and would lead to the eventual sacking of fan favourite Mauricio Pochettino, following a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich and a shock 3-0 loss to Brighton. Pochettinho would be replaced by Jose Mourinho on November 20th.
Kane’s goal return for the 19/20 season would be higher than the previous year but it still wasn’t up to the standard that Kane would have hoped to achieve, registering 18 Premier League goals. The England international would once again be ruled out for a chunk of the season due to injury, missing 16 matches in all competitions due to suffering a thigh muscle rupture against Southampton on January 1st 2020.
2/2/20 – Manchester City 0-2 Spurs
It was a night to remember for new signing Steven Bergwijn, as a Tottenham side without Harry Kane was able to pull off an upset against title chasers Manchester City.
Manchester City would begin the contest with a flurry of chances, which would leave many asking how Pep’s team did not have the lead heading into half time.
Lloris continued to pull off outstanding saves throughout the match, as he was able to flick a Sergio Aguero effort on to the post before Coty were awarded a penalty due to a clumsy challenge made by Serge Aurier towards the end of the first half. However, Lloris would once again come up huge for Spurs by saving Gundogan’s spot-kick.
If City expected more of the same in the second half then they were truly mistaken, as Ukrainian Zinchenko’s challenge on Harry Winks resulted in his second yellow card of the match, leaving City with 10 men.
This would allow Spurs to grow into the game, before debutant Steven Bergwijn blasted a half volley from 15 yards out into the bottom right corner of the City net. om 15 yards to set them on their way.
Heung-min Son’s effort doubled the Tottenham lead, thanks to a defection off Fernandinho leaving Ederson rooted to his spot.
10/3/20 – RB Leipzig 3-0 Tottenham
A wounded Tottenham’s Champions League campaign came to an end in the last 16 at the hands of German side RB Leipzig.
Spurs came into the match behind 1-0, having lost the first leg in London. Marcel Sabitzer’s double 20 minutes into the match was the beginning of the End for the North London side, with control firmly in the hands of Nagelsmann’s side.
Hugo Lloris might have felt that he could have done better with both goals, getting a hand on both of the Bundesliga sides’ shots.
The intensity that Leipzig played with was a problem for Spurs throughout the night, as Emil Forsberg would score with his first touch of the game, having come on for Sabitzer in the 86th minute, giving Leipzig a 3-0 lead at Red Bull Arena.
Spurs were expected to struggle without Son and Kane but a 4-0 aggregate loss will be one of huge disappointment for everyone involved.
The COVID-19 pandemic would allow Harry Kane to return to action towards the end of the season, helping Spurs secure qualification for the Europa League and 6th in the Premier League.
Harry Kane on the other hand would finish the season with 24 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions, a goal scoring record that many players would be envious of.
20/21 – Performance’s Beyond Belief
Harry Kane’s 20/21 campaign was nothing short of historic. Despite dealing with many hardships over the last few years, Kane would make sure that his reputation would remain intact as he produced one of the greatest individual seasons in Premier League history.
The striker would register 23 goals and 14 assists, winning both the golden boot and playmaker award for the season.
Fortunately enough for Kane, his almost annual injury didn’t result in a large number of games being missed. Spurs would play four matches over the course of the season without the league’s statistical leader – recording one win, one draw and two losses (25% win rate).
The poor results without Kane in the lineup emphasised how much of an influence he had on results during the season, causing many to wonder where Spurs would have finished without their star man.
4/10/20 – Manchester United 1-6 Spurs
An early season clash saw Spurs thrash Manchester United 6-1 to record a historic victory. United would take the lead in the opening stages of the match, as Bruno Fernandes was able to convert a penalty in the 2nd minute, thanks to Davinson Sanchez bringing down Anthony Martial in the Tottenham box.
Tanguy Ndombele and Heung-min Son would quickly overturn the deficit, scoring in the 4th and 7th minute respectively. Anthony Martial would see himself dismissed in the 28th minute following an altercation with Erik Lamela which caused him to lash out on the Argentine winger. Harry Kane would get in on the action just two minutes later, as the Spurs attack would press the United defence into making a mistake from their own goal kick, giving Kane the opportunity to slot the ball into the net for 3-1.
Son would add a fourth for Mourinho’s side just before the half time whistle blew, his second of the match. Goals in the 51st and 79th from Serge Aurier and Harry Kane would conclude a historic result for the North London side, a match that many won’t forget for a while.
25/4/21 – Manchester City 1-0 Spurs (Carabao Cup Final)
If Spurs believed that they would receive any sort of boast by sacking Jose Mourinho and appointing Ryan Mason, heading into the Carabao Cup final then they were mistaken. Tottenham would manage to register just two shots at the Manchester City goal in their sixth final of the century. City would be on the front foot from the first whistle, patiently waiting to strike against a scared Tottenham side. Aymeric Laporte would rise above Moussa Sissoko to head home a free-kick from Kevin De Bruyne in the 82nd minute. Many would suggest that Laporte was lucky to be on the pitch, having walked a tight line while on a yellow card but that would not be an excuse to try and justify a poor performance from Mason’s team. Harry Kane would once again return from injury in order to participate in the final, although his appearance would not amount to much.
A 7th placed finish and a cup final loss was not how supporters assumed the season would finish after such a bright start but Kane’s play was something Spurs fans could smile about.
The England captain would end the season with 33 goals and 17 assists in all competitions.
Having moved past a summer full of controversy, rumours and uncertainty, Spurs fans will be hoping that everything can be put in the back for now and Kane helps lead Spurs to a successful season under new manager Nuno Espírito Santo.
In the last few days, Tottenham have finally signed a centre-back in Cristian Romero from Atalanta. The Argentine joins on loan with an option to buy of £47 million.
The centre-back area has been one that has desperately needed addressing, with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen’s decline resulting in them both leaving the club.
Alongside inconsistent performances from Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier, has led Fabio Paratici to re-sign the man he signed for Juventus back in 2019.
Firstly, we will look at his strengths;
Romero is seen as an ‘old school centre-back’ who is comfortable with physical contact, making the transition to the Premier League much smoother.
Another strength is his tackling, which he averages 2.93 per 90 (Fbref).
He makes 2.77 average interceptions per game, also winning 3.86 duels per 90. This shows his commanding presence, reminiscient of our Belgian duo.
When you take into account how poor our defenders were in the air last season, Romero’s aerial ability is music to Spurs fans’ ears. With Alderwerield (2.15), Sanchez (2.98) & Dier (3.19), all winning less than the ex-Genoa defender.
One area of his game that lacks is his progressive passing, with only 2.47 per 90.
Some would say this is atypical to his style however, as he prefers defending over ball progression.
Although, if he is paired with a centre-back who’s skill is ball progression – then they would complement each other beautifully.
The ideal partner would be Jules Koundé, who the club has been heavily linked to throughout this crazy summer transfer window.
The Frenchman averages 5.51 progressive carries and 4.11 progressive passes per 90.
Koundé’s ability going forward would allow Romero to focus on protecting Tottenham’s goal with his life.
The only catch to the Kounde solution, is that he will not come cheap, at all.
Rumours have circulated that Sanchez would go the other way, if any sort of deal was to be struck with Sevilla.
Ultimately, Romero will hugely improve our defence, however, he doesn’t solve every problem. Which is why pairing him with a complimentary centre-back, is key.
Regardless, whichever way you look at it, the signing of Seria A Defensive MVP is a fantastice piece of business by Paratici.
Ever since Vertonghen’s departure, Spurs have failed to settle on a central-defensive pairing, dropping 18 points from winning positions last season.
There are huge hopes around the club that Romero can have a huge impact from day one, with the ability to truly become world-class in the near future.
It is no secret that after the disappointing 7th place finish and the disasters of Jose Mourinho, Dinamo Zagreb and the Carabao cup final, Harry Kane’s desire is to depart Tottenham Hotspur.
The main interest in Kane comes from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
What’s more, as of August 3rd 2021, the England captain has failed to report back for pre-season training in an attempt to force a move to the Citizens.
With an asking price of £150 million, Spurs will have ample funds to try and find a new striker.
The question is, which striker can even attempt to fill the void that Harry Kane will leave in this Spurs team?
In his career, Kane has scored 166 goals for Spurs in the Premier League, at a rate of 0.68 goals per game. This in itself is astonishing, but Kane is more than just a goalscorer.
His overall game is almost impossible to replicate, as he registered 14 assists last season. The most in the league,at a rate of 0.41 assists per 90 minutes.
Kane excels in team-play, with an xG build-up of 0.13 per game last season, completing 1.42 key passes per match and averaging 4.0 shots per match.
He also had 0.65 goal creating actions, his highest count in this metric ever.
For Fabio Paratici, finding a replacement for Kane could be a potentially overwhelming task.
That being said, here are three possible replacements for Harry Kane.
Alexander Isak is one for the future. At 21 years old, the Swedish striker finished the 2020/2021 La Liga season on an impressive 16 goals and two assists for Real Sociedad.
Compared to Kane’s 23 goals and 14 assists it may seem like nothing, but Isak has some similar underlying stats to Kane.
Having played far less minutes Isak was able to produce an xG per 90 of 0.62, close to Kane’s 0.64. Furthermore, Isak was able to register an xG build-up of 0.11 per game, compared to Kane’s 0.13.
These stats show that Isak is more than happy to involve himself in key build-up as well as take shots that register a large probability of ending in a goal.
Kane stands at 1.88 metres tall, and has been used as a long ball outlet or target man at times for Spurs. Isak stands at 1.90 metres tall, and it is believed he could perform a similar role if required.
Patrick Bamford had a fantastic rebound season in the Premier League with Leeds after managing no goals in his first spell with Middlesborough.
The ex-Chelsea striker exploded into life for Bielsa’s Leeds by scoring 17 goals and registering seven assists.
Bamford made 0.88 key passes per match last season, compared to Kane’s 1.4, Whilst also being involved in 0.12 xG build up per match, just shy of Kane.
The area of worry regarding Bamford is his xG of 0.54, which is a whole 10th off Kane. Furthermore, Bamford is not the best presence in the air, but he does provide excellent defensive work rate.
Bamford is usually the first Leeds player to charge down opponents and press from the front in Bielsa’s manic pressing system.
An asset that could be invaluable for Tottenham, who enjoyed their best spells in an ultra high-press system coached by a Bielsa prodigy, Mauricio Pochettino.
The most proven of the strikers listed; Lautaro Martinez formed a lethal striker partnership with Romelu Lukaku under Antonio Conte at Inter Milan, scoring 21 goals in the 19/20 season in all competitions, and 18 last season.
Martinez matched his xG per game of 0.59, scoring exactly 0.59 goals per game last season. This is 0.05 xG off Kane. Both strikers also completed over 1.0 key passes a match (Kane 1.42, Martinez 1.32).
Martinez also matches Kane in xG buildup, at exactly 0.13.
At 23, Martinez would be a fantastic long term option for Tottenham to replace Harry Kane.
Also, given Inter’s financial issues which caused Conte’s departure, Spurs may be able to negotiate a reasonable transfer fee.
This would allow Spurs to further invest the money gained from a potential Kane transfer into other aspects of the team.
It is likely that Spurs will not be able to find a player who can exactly replicate what Kane offers to the team, but these three options may be the club’s best bet if their poster-boy does get his move away from his boyhood club.
Spanish fans took to social media to proclaim their jealousy of Tottenham’s acquirement of Gil, furthermore fuelling their excitement to watch the club’s new prospect, eagerly waiting to see what he has to offer.
Fabio Paratici seems to be making his mark at Tottenham rather quickly. The nearly finalised swap deal with Sevilla, exchanging Erik Lamela & £21.4m for Bryan Gil, along with advanced talks for Atalanta’s Cristian Romero, have given fans a reason to be excited.
Paratici and Tottenham’s first official signing of the summer also comes from the region of Bergamo.
Earlier today, Spurs announced the arrival of goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta on loan with an option to buy for £12.8m. The option to buy becomes an obligation if Gollini reaches 20 appearances.
Gollini’s football journey has been interesting to say the least. The Italian goalkeeper began his career with spells at Spal and Fiorentina before making the audacious decision to sign for Manchester United at 15 years old, swapping his native Italy for England.
Pierluigi would spend three years with the Red Devil’s, playing with the likes of Paul Pogba, Adnan Januzaj, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard before returning to Italy with Hellas Verona in 2014.
His time with Hellas Verona was overall an impressive one, but the clubs relegation to Serie B led to another brief spell in England, this time with Aston Villa in 2016.
Gollini would make 20 appearances during his time in Birmingham before being loaned out to Atalanta for 18 months.
Atalanta would make Gollini’s stay at the club permanent in June 2018 for an undisclosed fee.
He was originally given the role of backup goalkeeper, but would make a name for himself in the second half of the season earning the number one spot forLa Dea and a senior cap for the Italy national team.
Gollini’s rise in the footballing world was parallel to Atalanta’s, as the Serie A side would go from fighting relegation to three straight years of Champions League qualification.
Having made his third move to England, Gollini will be wanting to prove to Spurs fans that he is the man to replace Hugo Lloris in North London.
So, what are we supposed to expect from Gollini?
The 26 year-old goalkeeper is prone to coming off his line often, in order to intimidate the opposing attacker. Gollini is thought to be a rather demanding player, who remains concentrated on the task at hand and expects his defenders to do the same.
Gollini’s distribution looks to be a perfect match for Nuno Espírito Santo’s system. As his ability to complete a range of accurate passes allows the team to create counter-attacks in an instance but also build from the back if needed.
Gollini’s nine clean sheets in 25 matches ranked third-best in Serie A during the 2020/21 season – only Donnarumma and Handanovic conceded fewer goals.
“I had proposals from Italian clubs but Tottenham are the best one! I respect Hugo Lloris, he’s a great goalkeeper and I’m proud to work with him at Spurs” said Gollini.
Having already expressed his excitement about working with Hugo Lloris, Spurs will be hoping that Gollini will pick the brain of Lloris during his loan stay before taking the reins himself.
There are many reasons to be optimistic for the Italian’s future in North London and now it’s time for the potential number one of the future to get down to business.
Nuno Espírito Santo has his feet now firmly under the table at Tottenham Hotspur, beginning pre-season with some members of the senior squad and the U21’s on the 7th of July.
Tottenham Hotspur will now tackle a set of friendly games against Chelsea, Arsenal and more in order to prepare for the coming Premier League season. Ensuing frantic debate amongst fans on how the Portuguese will tactically set out his first Spurs XI.
It’s fair to say fans are most curious about how Espírito Santo will work with the variety of midfield talent available at Tottenham.
At Wolves, Espírito Santo utilised the 3-4-2-1 formation in the Championship, but switched to a 3-5-2 once Wolves were promoted. The change in formation offered more solidity in the midfield and allowed Wolves to dominate possession centrally, with their added numbers.
The 3-5-2 featured a midfield three of Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker, flanked by wingbacks Matt Doherty and Jonny.
Neves was the deeper-lying midfielder who was tasked with screening the defence and progressing build-up play with short passes or long balls, with an impressive passing range.
Dendoncker featured on the right of the three, and his role was more of a box-to-box midfielder.
His versatility allowed him to drop and form a double pivot with Neves while Moutinho stayed high, resembling more of a 3-4-1-2 shape. Or play alongside Moutinho and make surging runs into the box to get onto the end of crosses from the wingbacks.
Lastly, Joao Moutinho was Wolves’ creator-in-chief. He was given the license to roam freely and occupy positions all over the midfield in order to dictate play.
At Tottenham, Espírito Santo has the opportunity to forge a midfield three that is similar to his Wolves setup, but will also have distinct features that the Portuguese can use to his advantage.
Pierre Emile-Højbjerg would fit perfectly in the deeper-lying midfield role that Neves played at Wolves.
We saw at the recent European Championships that Højbjerg possesses exceptional ability on the ball. According to whoscored.com, Højbjerg made 1.8 key passes and 1.7 dribbles per match playing central-midfield in Denmark’s 3-4-2-1 formation.
On the 30th of June, Tottenham Hotspur finally put an end to their 72-day search for a new manager after the sacking of José Mourinho in mid-April, appointing ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo.
It’s an appointment that has received mixed reception within the fanbase, many consider the new manager vastly underwhelming, as just a number of weeks ago Spurs were linked to managers such as Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag.
As, in the season just passed, Wolves finished 13th scoring only 36 goals and accumulating an xG of just 38.62.
However during the season, Wolves suffered a plethora of adversities including injuries and losing players to direct rivals.
Despite his poor final campaign, Espírito did superbly in the Midlands, guiding Wolves from the Championship to a Premiere League side that regularly challenges in the Europa League and comfortably beats sides in the Top Six.
In terms of philosophy, Espírito has been influenced by several coaches.
He worked under José Mourinho and Jesualdo Ferreira at Porto, and even spent some time at Hotspur Way learning from ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, following his sacking at Valencia.
Simply put, the Portuguese values a solid defence, playing out from the back, aggressive transitions and counter-attacks whilst dominating the wide areas. He utilised both the 3-4-3 and the 3-5-2 in his time at Wolves, which will be the template for this analysis.
That being said, here are three players that will shine under Nuno Espírito Santo at Tottenham Hotspur:
Doherty was signed by Tottenham from Wolves after three years of working with the Portuguese manager.
Nuno’s system complimented Doherty perfectly, as Wolves would usually begin build up play on the left-hand side, creating an overload and dragging their opposition with them, freeing up space on the right before switching the play to Doherty with a long diagonal pass or quick, short passes through the midfield.
He would then be isolated one versus one against the opponent’s left-back and could create a chance with a run to the byline and a cross. This could be a tactical facet that Nuno may use in his system at Tottenham.
Rodon was signed by Tottenham from Swansea in the final stages of last summer’s transfer window. Despite barely starting under Mourinho, whenever Rodon did start, he impressed.
Notably his performance against Liverpool in the 3-1 loss at home, where despite the loss, his highlight was a last-ditch tackle to stop Sadio Mané.
The Welshman is confident on the ball, and his height can make him a threat from set pieces, which Wolves put to good use regularly during their peak years under Espírito.
He is also just 23 years old, so has more than enough time to develop.
Giovani Lo Celso
Lo Celso has had a difficult first two years at Spurs. Initially signing on loan, he did not experience much playing time under his fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino.
However under Mourinho, Lo Celso was the shining light in a frankly dreadful Tottenham side post-December 2019.
Last season Lo Celso started well, scoring a handful of goals in the Europa League qualifying and group stages. However, injuries and underwhelming performances have caused the Spurs fanbase to develop a resentment toward the Argentinian midfielder.
A player who flourished under Espírito at Wolves was former Monaco midfielder, Joao Moutinho.
Moutinho offered a great passing range, good technical ability, a wicked delivery on set pieces and smart movement that allowed Wolves to create overloads all over the pitch.
These are all abilities that Lo Celso has showcased in the past, and it would not be far-fetched to assume that Nuno could bring the best out of the Argentine.
In conclusion, Nuno Espírito Santo is a coach who is well known for improving players, working with youth and overachieving.
He has an extremely difficult task in front of him to try and bring Tottenham Hotspur back to the harmonious, passionate and entertaining football team it was in its peak years under Mauricio Pochettino.
Only time will tell if he can achieve this, but these three players could play a crucial role in his attempt to revitalise the sleeping giant that is Tottenham Hotspur.