Despite Tottenham’s positive start to the season, performances have been rather sub-par. After a remarkable 3-0 win at Old Trafford, Tottenham put in a dismal performance at Vicarage Road, losing 2-1 against Watford to drop their first points of the season. So, is there cause for concern is this just early season teething problems?
Are Tottenham’s Players Still Recovering From the World Cup?
Following a very uneventful transfer window, the pressure was on Tottenham’s stars to hit the ground running, and bar the odd goal, most have failed to turn up. Having had the fourth most players at the World Cup this summer (12) with nine of them reaching the semi-finals, it was inevitable that it would have a knock-on effect. Harry Kane now looks tired, Christian Eriksen hasn’t found that creative touch and Dele Alli continues to squander chances. This problem isn’t huge as Tottenham continue to enjoy their best start to a season under Mauricio Pochettino with nine points, but should it continue they could fall behind the title race.
Kane is as Clinical as Ever, but Has he Found His Shooting Boots Yet?
Harry Kane has experienced a quiet start to the season so far, especially by his standards. He bagged his first ever August goal in Spurs’ 3-1 win against Fulham and got them underway in their compelling 3-0 win at Old Trafford. However, his performances have been rather anonymous, and the sharp-shooting Kane of last season has yet to show up.
Last season, he registered 28 shots after four games; this season, it’s only ten shots. But testament to Kane’s remarkable goalscoring ability, he still has two goals, like last season. So, if anything, he has become more clinical over the summer. It’s still concerning though that the goalscoring opportunities have dwindled recently with Kane struggling to get into threatening positions lately.
Kane himself has looked sluggish at times and has struggled to find the half a yard he needs to shoot, but his effort can still not be faulted as he continues to chase every loose ball. So, it remains inconceivable that he will be rested, especially with the only other options being Fernando Llorente or putting Heung-Min Son or possibly Lucas Moura up front. Its simple; if Harry Kane isn’t injured, he plays. So, how do Spurs combat this issue? Well, the creative players must step up. But unfortunately, the midfield regulars Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son were all at the World Cup as well.
Is the Midfield Running on Empty as Well?
The Danish maestro, Christian Eriksen, is the one Spurs look to for any form of creativity. When he is on song, Spurs can be completely unplayable. But so far, he has looked bereft of ideas and has struggled to find that key pass to unlock a defence.
Eriksen has so far misplaced 41 passes, more than any other Spurs player. He clearly hasn’t found his impeccable accuracy this season which inevitably puts the whole team off. However, he continues to put in 100% effort, just like Kane. Eriksen has attempted 13 shots at goal in the Premier League this season, more than any other Spurs player and the joint-most in the League without scoring. This might explain why Kane is getting less goalscoring opportunities. With Eriksen struggling with his pass accuracy he is choosing to go for goal instead.
The problem is it’s not working, with Eriksen the only player to register a shot on target against Watford. However, the problem isn’t just with Eriksen; Dele Alli has also been wasteful in front of goal. The movement we have come to love in the past few seasons is still there, but the end product is currently missing. He may have scored a wonderful header against Newcastle, but he has since squandered chances against Manchester United and most notably Watford. His tendency to complicate things makes him one of the most exciting players in Europe but it can frustrate the Spurs faithful. However, in contrast with Kane, Dele is still making the runs into Space and is getting sight of goal. So why have the roles suddenly reversed?
What’s the Solution for Mauricio Pochettino?
Many of Tottenham’s stars are clearly playing catch up with fitness and match sharpness after the World Cup. However, as shown by the aforementioned players, it’s impossible to drop them as they form the backbone of the team and are still capable of contributing. But until they return to peak form the responsibility passes to the players that weren’t in Russia.
Lucas Moura has been phenomenal so far this season. Following his slow integration into the Spurs side, he was left out of Brazil’s World Cup side and has since hit the ground running (literally). He’s currently Spurs’ top goal scorer with three goals and was named Premier League Player of the Month for August. However, his form goes back further than that. The pacey winger has been involved in eight goals in his first nine starts in all competitions (four goals, four assists). Clearly, he’s the in-form player which could be crucial for Spurs as they wait for the established stars to rediscover their magic touch.
Another wildcard at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal is the return of Heung-Min Son, having captained South Korea to a gold medal at the Asian Games. The energetic midfielder can be hot and cold in the space of 90 minutes but is always capable of winning games. His return, as well as Erik Lamela’s long-awaited return from injury, might finally give Pochettino the option to replace Eriksen and Dele when they look shaky. However, the narrative will always remain that when uninjured the trio of Kane, Eriksen and Dele start because even when they’re not at 100% they are still capable of that magic moment.