(Someone get Fabricio Ramirez a shovel. It appears to be snowing all around him. Thanks @Caley_Graphics)
More like Empty-ham, amirite?
Spurs actually looked like they have been practicing together for more than five days. Granted, Fulham is a newly promoted side that is still fitting all of their dozen signings together. Even so, Tottenham looked like an elite group, moving the ball well with switches, intricate triangles, and overlaps. As seen above, they created plenty of scoring chances and on another day -perhaps in a few weeks- the final is five or six to the good. Spurs got goals from Moura, Trippier, and Kane, while long-time target Ryan Sessegnon whiffed his shot into an assist for the Cottagers only tally. Sessegnon definitely looked the part as Fulham seems to have the potential to be a midtable side, once they get a few games under their belt and get to know each other a little better. Following Fulham’s improved performance at the beginning of the second half, Poch’s tactical substitutions then switched the momentum back to Spurs. A couple of cool finishes later, Spurs had their second three points in two games.
Huge game at Old Trafford next Monday.
- Lucas Moura. After botching a sitter just wide and missing a first touch on a would be breakaway in the first 15 minutes, the Lucas Moura we’ve been anticipating through the preseason arrived. His first EPL goal was a Sonny-esque curler from just outside the 18 off of the post, giving Fabricio no chance. Moura also looked great off of the ball, moving quite well in space and winning possession back a number of times in the Fulham half. With Sonny in Indonesia for at least another week, he is basically a ‘new signing’ after not playing much at all in the League during last season. If he continues to improve, Spurs have another unique piece in their attacking band.
- Back 3. I was overjoyed at the sight of Toby in the starting 11. The Back 3 has been my favorite defensive deployment under Poch because of the athleticism and quality that Tottenham has at the centerback position. Also, playing Toby, Davi, and Jan allows Tripps to move forward, where he’s at his best. The fullbacks will drop into a semi Back 5 when the opponent has the ball, but they will then push up in possession to create potentially six attackers going forward. Poch has used this to perfection, especially against teams where Tottenham should control the ball. It also allows them to sit Eriksen next to Dier in the midfield, allowing for another attacker instead of a more holding midfielder.
- Poch’s Subs. As Fulham adjusted to Spurs pressing and possession, Poch reacted by bringing on Moose to balance the midfield. Replacing Davi, Moose moved Spurs back into a 4-2-3-1, sliding in next to Dier. Despite not being a 90-minute guy anymore, Dembele has changed both games with his appearances. Fulham’s run of chances and possession was shut off as Moose steadied the midfield. Poch then brought Lamela on for Dier. After the fullbacks dropped into a Back 4, Mauricio used Lamela to push forward. It paid off as Erik led a counter-run that ended with Kane sealing the game at 3-1. More on that later.
- Tripps. Part of it has to be the different formation and the opposition, but Spurs looked so much more consistent with Kieren Trippier at right back. He was phenomenal leaking forward and finding space down the flank. It was not his most accurate day crossing the ball, but he sure poured in a high volume. And we’ve seen enough of him to know that he normally is able to find teammates on those deliveries. The Back 3 is perfect for him being a 50/50 defender/winger. Uh, what about him shooing Mr. Set Piece away and then drilling a perfect free kick just inside the post? I feel like I saw that before. Now, I will say that if that’s his preferred shot, it makes sense for him to take it instead of Eriksen, given the placement of the ball. What a find from Poch!
- August. Kane has scored. We’re done with this, now, yes? Wembley, August, Trophies, blahblahblahblah #narratives
- Sessegnon. I see it. He didn’t have a ton of chances, but he smoked several Spurs plays in 1v1s. He also created a corner out of nothing. He did gaffe a shot, BUT it turned into an assist on a lie-down header. Good on him. Now, don’t be too good, and come to Tottenham next summer for at least a semi-affordable price!
- New Kits. I’m American. I watch American sports. I use American terminology. However, my affinity for puns has forced me to start using the term ‘kit’ instead of ‘jersey’ so that I’m not constantly making references to Maryland and Delaware when addressing someone’s new jersey. See, I’ve already done it. Anyway… I like the new whites. My go-to Spurs blog/news site Cartilage Free Captain has droned on and on about how they hate them. Rubbish! (Another English term!). I think they’re fun. The gradient at the bottom is interesting. I enjoy the transition from the white to blue and back to white in the socks. Haterz gon’ hate.
- Depth. Lastly, seeing Moura play well, Lamela come back, and even Winksy make a cameo at the end reinforces my point from last week. Spurs do have depth. They run roughly two deep at every position – when Wanyama and one of the young centerbacks are healthy. They also are flexible enough to run different formations and have situationally specific guys to bring in for various types of games/timings, etc. Also, Spurs are good. It would take a very good signing to get any sort of run in a critical game this season (aside from a plethora of injuries). AND, as we’ve seen with Tripps, Sonny, and hopefully Moura, the majority of Tottenham additions take some time to adapt and learn Poch’s systems/desires/fitness. So, adding a guy so that fans/critics can feel better emotionally is a waste of time and money. During the transition into an expensive stadium (which should pay off big in the future), Tottenham cannot afford to throw 30-50 million around unless they are confident that it’s necessary and worth the return. They’re not City. 😉