Siao Mates Aug 23

Wolves 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - How did Spurs even get the three points?


 

It’s not something a Spurs fan can say very often, but watching Tottenham Hotspur play last night (SGT) against Wolves was a lot more nerve-racking than watching them play Manchester City a week prior.

 

Though the end result was the same, it’s fair to say that Spurs were far luckier against Wolves than they were for most of the match against City. 

 

If the result against City heralded a new-look Spurs under Nuno Espirito Santo, the match against Wolves showed that they have yet to improve drastically from the soak and strike mindset developed under Jose Mourinho.

 

WATCH: Nuno Santo reacts to Spurs' win over Wolves

 

This was hardly Spurs at their counter-attacking best, and had Adama Traore, and indeed the rest of the Wolves team, not been wasteful in their finishing, Spurs could have been on the wrong end of a hiding.

 

But hey, you know what they say, when you play badly and win 1-0, you’re on your way to becoming George Graham.

 

Nonetheless, Nuno would have learned a lot more about his Spurs team in this victory than the one against City. A good manager should always focus on how to improve the team. And boy, based on this performance, he has got his work cut out for him.

 

After a defensive masterclass showing by Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez against City - not words one would often use to describe the pair - the two almost reverted to type against Wolves. Firstly, Sanchez was bullied into submission by Traore, especially in the first half, with the bulky but strangely pacy Spanish winger brushing him aside like a tornado up against Olive Oyl. 

 

And then, in the second half, Dier tried to channel his inner Lionel Messi in a dangerous area high up the pitch by attempting to dribble past a defender. As Dier doesn’t even have the dribbling skills of Messi’s left toe, he inevitably lost the ball, which eventually led to Traore going one-on-one with Hugo Lloris.

 

Of course, Traore missing gilt-edge chances have become a bit of a norm, but France’s number one goalkeeper still had to pull off a great save. Had that gone in, it would have been a nervy final 20 minutes for the visitors.

 

You could argue that Sanchez and Dier looked better than last season, but that’s a really low bar. What Nuno has to ask is if the pair is good enough for a side with top four ambitions. Of course, both new signing Cristian Romero and youngster Joe Rodon, who had a good Euros, were injured, but it remains to be seen if Nuno would favour that untested pairing as opposed to the tried and tested one, warts and all.

 

WATCH: Behind the scenes of Romero's first day at Spurs

 

The bigger worry was upfront. Yes, Spurs were more clinical, registering 6 shots on target out of 8 chances, but it would be a worry that the players seemed clueless over how to break down Wolves’ defence. Instead, they often overran with the ball, and constantly showcased their full range of wayward passing once they got into the opponent’s half. Wolves also registered six shots on target, but that came from 25 chances created, which, of course, is another problem altogether. 

 

In addition, Spurs sat deeper than when they played against City, which resulted in far less turnovers. Very often, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves had so much space in midfield that one thought they were filming Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Interstellar.

 

Yet, despite all that, Spurs arguably had the more clear cut chances, if one took away Traore’s one-on-one.

 

Of course, these days, no one can write about Spurs and not mention Harry Kane, who finally made a substitute appearance in a Spurs jersey, one hopes not for the last time, and he showed the rustiness of one who spent a tad too long in the Bahamas, by missing a chance that you would expect him to convert last season late in the game.

 

Based on this performance, you wouldn’t put your life’s savings on Spurs finishing top four, as you’re likely to end up sleeping on the streets. Spurs looked laboured, as laboured as they did in the terrible run post November last season, and would thank their lucky stars that these three points are in the bag, because you get a sense they would need them when the season wraps up.

 

What’s more worrying is that other teams seem to be bedding in their new signings much faster. Jack Grealish scored, albeit via a lucky bounce off his knee, and Romelu Lukaku looked like he never left Chelsea, signalling his return with a tap-in and a supreme overall performance.

 

WATCH: Tuchel pleased with Lukaku's debut performance

 

Of course, Liverpool didn’t have new signings to bed in, but Diogo Jota looks like a new player and with the return of almost their entire first team defence, you would imagine the Reds are dead certain for a spot in top four. 

 

And then there’s Manchester United, thankfully still sorting out how to fit in Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, but Paul Pogba has been showing what the fuss about him has been about.

 

You could also make the case for Arsenal, who have spent more money on new players than any other team so far, but we’re talking about top four rivals here, not relegation strugglers who face the very daunting prospect of being right at the bottom of the table come next Saturday after they visit the Etihad.

 

Spurs’ new players didn’t cover themselves with glory in the European Conference League against a team literally no one outside of Portugal has heard of, and you would imagine they are a long way from stepping into the first team. And then, they might have to face the very real prospect of not having their talismanic striker for the rest of the season.

 

So Dele Alli’s penalty strike in the 9th minute, which really wasn’t as controversial as the media made it out to be, was greatly needed, even if, for the life of me, I cannot fathom how we got away with bagging all the points.

 

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