Tottenham’s total football defenders desperately need more help

    FROM TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR STADIUM – Tottenham were up their usual tricks at home in Saturday’s visit of Burnley.

    It followed the usual playbook of games you’d expect them to win without too much of a fuss. Go behind as a result of their high line, frustrate the crowd a little, save the day before oblivion with a late comeback.

    Considering Spurs went into this one off the back of four straight losses – all against opposition they should be trying to rival – they will take just getting back in the win column and firming up a place in Europe. The manner of victory was a reminder of the progress they still need to make to truly challenge for major honours again.

    Burnley travelled south needing a win to stand any chance of Premier League survival. Even a credible draw wouldn’t have been enough to keep them up.

    As such, the Clarets came out with the intention to play, to go toe-to-toe with Spurs even after being thrashed by them earlier in the season with a similar approach.

    On the flip side, Tottenham certainly looked a team who had taken zero points from the last 12 available to them. The openings were there because of how Burnley needed to set up, but the hosts were often caught between decisions in their own heads.

    Dejan Kulusevski, Brennan Johnson and Son Heung-min were all painfully blunt in the first half and for the start of the second. Behind them, James Maddison was pulling the strings in a return to form, though Tottenham’s attackers simply weren’t their most potent threat in attack.

    Micky van de Ven

    Van de Ven had the last laugh / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

    In fact, it was right-back Pedro Porro who hauled them level with a ferocious drive not too dissimilar to his rocket winner in this fixture in the FA Cup third round. Late in the day, Micky van de Ven marauded forward and rolled the ball into the corner to seal the three points.

    On an individual level, Spurs’ starting backline – Porro, Van de Ven, Cristian Romero, Destiny Udogie and goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario – have all enjoyed fine seasons. And yet Tottenham have conceded a staggering 59 goals. They’re an exciting attacking team, but they ship chances and goals like a fine art.

    Tottenham’s final-third struggles have been hugely helped by their defenders bailing them out, too – that favoured foursome have contributed a rather impressive 12 goals between them. They’re highly rated for a reason but they are drowning in a sea of pressure due to the tactics of Ange Postecoglou and those in front of them not putting games to bed.

    If Spurs are to bridge the gap to the Premier League’s title challengers, then there are two clear solutions to try and enact – sign some forwards who don’t mentally freeze upon stepping into the final third, and adapt to ensure the gaps behind them aren’t so eye-opening.


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