There’s been a fair bit of criticism for Tottenham following their 0-0 draw with Everton. Second place was there for the taking for either side, but the two teams canceled each other out and a draw was ultimately a fair result.
Focusing solely on the North London outfit, there seems to be a general consensus that a draw was an opportunity missed. Even though Everton have an impeccable record at Goodison Park as of late, there is a view amongst some that after their summer investments, Tottenham should be winning games like this. Maybe at this point they should be blowing teams away with vibrant attacking football? And despite an impressive points tally, just the nine goals in ten games is a statistic that has put the worries up some.
I wouldn’t buy into that. From this standpoint Spurs are looking like a side with a clear, long-term vision and based on early evidence, they have an excellent framework in place to develop into a top class team.
Focusing on the defensive side, off the ball Spurs were supremely well drilled at Goodison Park. And this is a facet of their game that has become increasingly pertinent in the early knockings of the season. Whilst they may not press in cavalier fashion like Southampton, they do so in a manner which is just as effective.
They have bags of pace in wide areas, which allows them to shut down the opposition full-backs sharply, subsequently squeezing the play and strangling the passing lanes. Then, the energy and anticipatory skills of Paulinho and Sandro come to the fore. They both equally adept at nicking the ball back and winning tackles, making the Spurs midfield look impenetrable at times. For teams that look to pass the ball out from the back, it is hugely difficult to inject any kind of rhythm into their play.
Villas-Boas has clearly embossed his authority on the team in pre-season, and this wholly evident when you look at the major improvement in their shape and pressing. They look tenacious, savvy and intelligent in their defensive play.
It’s even more remarkable when you consider the facelift the side has undergone this summer. To instil that level of discipline into a team containing so many new faces must be difficult, but the Portuguese boss has done exactly that. Sandro has ousted Mousa Dembele from the side, and he provides an enormous shielding presence in the middle of the park.
Vlad Chiriches also looks a super acquisition; the young Romanian has slotted seamlessly into the Spurs back four in recent weeks and has all the attributes the modern game demands of a central defender. Jan Vertonghen, Michael Dawson and Hugo Lloris have also started the campaign in sparkling form giving the Spurs goal an air of invincibility.
Whilst the meanness of the Tottenham defense is an overwhelming positive, on the flipside, the team has suffered with some aforementioned attacking difficulties. A serious concern for many, it seems. But Spurs’ stinginess in front of goal won’t last.