Farewell White Hart Lane

FeaturedFarewell White Hart Lane

We knew it was coming all season. With every visit to the Lane, the new stadium rapidly grew faster and faster next door. It hadn’t dawned upon me for so long just how difficult it would be to wave goodbye to this place once and for all. A place which many of us call our home; our real home. A place where we grew up watching the team and players we passionately adore. A place where we were given memories to cherish for a lifetime.

A place that very soon will cease to exist.

As I sit typing this, I’m dreading the arrival of the 14th. I prefer to refer to tomorrow by the date instead of simply saying ‘tomorrow’ because it helps me believe it’s a little further away than how agonisingly close it actually is. Sitting by the clock and knowing that in under 48 hours’ time, the construction workers will move into our home and start knocking it down – it’s a soul crushing feeling.

The good news out of this, I guess, is that we’re only moving next door and not miles away from where our original roots are. And as much as I say that to cheer me up, nothing will ever be more of a ‘home’ to me than White Hart Lane has been – at least not for a very, very long time.

I still remember the sheer excitement of visiting the Lane for the first time – jumping out of bed at quarter past seven on a Saturday morning, putting on the famous Lilywhite colours and rushing to my parents’ bedroom to wake my dad up; only for him to remind me that we had eight hours left before the game. That dampened the mood down just a little bit!

The tingling feeling of walking through the turnstiles in the South Stand, shoving my way through a crowd of Spurs fans with a firm grip on my dad’s hand just in case I got lost in the concourse, before finally running up the stairs leading into the stands and embracing the beautiful turf for the first time in my life – an indescribable moment.

I must have spent at least ten minutes in complete awe of my new surroundings. The pre-match atmosphere took a while to soak completely in. This place certainly felt a lot like home straight away. A cry of ‘Come on you Spurs!’ was echoed from all corners of the ground as the game kicked off.

And since then, I was hooked right in.

As a relatively younger supporter, it feels extremely tough to even contemplate the idea of White Hart Lane being completely destroyed in the coming weeks and months; therefore I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating it must feel for supporters who have been regularly visiting for decades.

As much as I’m dreading that final goodbye, the future does bring a lot of excitement in itself. The new stadium will hold more than 60,000 fans under one roof and 17,000 in a single stand. The fact that it will also be built on top of our current home helps a lot in making me feel that White Hart Lane will always be there with us in spirit – rather than having it completely torn down just to build a bunch of flats over it.

Whether Spurs are playing down at the Lane, Wembley or anywhere else in the country, we will follow them wherever they go. We did so then, we do it today and we’ll do it tomorrow.

Long live Tottenham Hotspur.

Long live White Hart Lane.

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White Hart Lane: Memories

FeaturedWhite Hart Lane: Memories

White Hart Lane – the world famous home of Tottenham Hotspur. Undoubtedly one of the most famous grounds in, not only Britain, but in the world. Over the years, many fans have seen the ‘glory of the cups at White Hart Lane’, from the UEFA Cup in 1984, to more recently the League Cup in 2008.

Not only has White Hart Lane seen some of the best trophies in football, but also some of the most talented and gifted players; Jimmy Greaves, David Ginola, Paul Gascoigne and Gareth Bale, just to name a few.

Spurs have always been known to play an exciting brand of football. Face paced, brilliant passing and solid at the back is the bare minimum the fans at the Lane demand, and have been demanding since Spurs made in their home back in 1899.

With fans this passionate, players that good and coaches such as Bill Nicholson to match, success was always inevitable at the Lane. Here are some of the most memorable moments in our famous old White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur 9-1 Wigan Athletic – 22/11/2009

A game that had absolutely everything. Jermain Defoe scoring five goals, a David Bentley free kick, a Peter Crouch header and even an Aaron Lennon goal!

Records were broken while new ones were set by Tottenham. The only other team to score nine goals in one match was Manchester United. Defoe set his own records that night as well. On a night where Defoe could do no wrong, he slotted five, yes five goals past Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. In doing so, he became only the third player to score five gaols in a game after Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.

White Hart Lane had never seen a score line so gigantic in the Premier League. However, Tottenham’s biggest win came against Crewe in an FA Cup tie, with the final score ending 13-2.

The absolute stomping of Wigan came in a very significant season for the Lilywhites purely because of their qualification into the Champions League. This was the first time that Spurs had qualified for footballs greatest club competition. Many, many more long lasting memories came from this Champions League campaign.

A perfect attacking display, an almost perfect defensive display, could the fans at the Lane have asked for much more?  A memorable game for any fans that got the pleasure to watch it live, or even on Match of The Day hours later.

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Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Arsenal – 22/01/2008

Scoring five goals against any team is special, but against Arsenal the feeling is amplified 10 fold. The tie was not just any game against the North London neighbours, there was a place in the 2008 League Cup Final up for grabs. As any Spurs fan will know, all the weeks surrounding this fixture are just full of nerves. Not excited, not looking forward to it — just scared.

To put two or more past your arch rival is brilliant, but to slot five past their defence is unbelievable. Tottenham were 2-0 up by the half time break and goals from Keane, Lennon and Malbranque sealed one of the most famous victories at White Hart Lane. Under the flood lights in North London, its fair to say this game could not have been more special.

An overall perfect performance from the Lilywhites, one that will be long lived in both the history books and in the minds of all Spurs players and fans.

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Tottenham Hotspur 5-3 Chelsea – 01/01/2015

When Chelsea visited ‘three point Lane’ on New Years Day 2015, Pochettino’s Lilywhites took apart Mourinho’s Blues on a very memorable night in north London.

Chelsea came into the game cruising at the top of the Premier League table, but goals from Harry Kane (x2), Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli topped off an incredible night for all Spurs fans.

It’s not everyday we get to see Chelsea on the back end of conceding five and getting outplayed as much as they did on the night, but to be the team to thrash them and Mourinho the way that we did was something that will always be remembered and cherishing.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Manchester United – 10/04/2016

This one was special. A first win over Man United at the Lane since 1996. The United team bus may have been half-an-hour late, but Spurs made the wait worth it. Spurs fans went into the game knowing a win was needed to keep the pressure on Leicester City at the top of the league – but not many could have expected such an incredible performance.

Three superb goals in six minutes in a fantastic second half from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela saw the Lilywhites claim their first win over Manchester United at the Lane in 20 odd years. The best thing about it? It could have been more.

For the first time in two decades, Spurs took Manchester United apart at the Lane and it will always be a game that Spurs fans will have fond memories of.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Inter Milan – 02/11/2010

To some, if not all Spurs fans, this was definitely the biggest and most special game played at White Hart Lane. European nights at Tottenham were special, they had an added edge about them. As a fan, you knew if you had the luck to get a ticket, you were going to be treated by the boys in Lilywhite.

As the teams lined up for kick off, I’m positive you could hear the fans singing “Oh When The Spurs Go Marching In!” from the other side of London. The Lane was literally rocking, it was a truly special display from not only the players on the pitch but the loyal fans in the stands. Honestly, one of the best atmospheres the country has ever seen.

A team filled with stars like Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafa Van Der Vaart always treated the White Hart Lane faithful and they certainly did not slack on this European night. Inter Milan, one of world footballs greatest (and holders of the Champions League) turned over by a 21 year old boy from Wales. Who would’ve thought?

Although he didn’t get on the score sheet, Gareth Bale was the true match winner for Tottenham. Two assists, brilliant assists at that, cemented his place as one of the worlds top players. It would be hard to fault Bale’s performance, especially after it put Spurs in pole position to finish first in the group.

It’s a shame White Hart Lane didn’t see many more Champions League nights after this special display – they were truly a spectacle to behold.

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Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Arsenal – 30/04/2017

The last ever North London derby at White Hart Lane – pretty big right? It was set up to be a brilliant game right from the word go; not one seat left unattended, Tottenham in great form and Arsenal going through a rough patch.

Although the Lane may have been missing a corner, the atmosphere certainly didn’t make it feel like that. The place was rocking from even before the match. It was probably the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen. Every single stand at White Hart Lane was deafening.

Every single chant. Every single minute. The proper atmosphere the fixture deserved. We all knew that a win would finally put an end to ‘St Totteringhams day’ and it looks like the players knew that as well. It was special from the 1st to 90th minute. Deservedly, Spurs came out with the 2 – 0 win over Arsenal. Tottenham looked well drilled, determined, physically and mentally prepared for the match. The same can’t be said for the noisy neighbours down the road!

It didn’t even stop at the refs final whistle. Fans stayed in the stands chanting on Poch and his team. “We’ve got Alli, Dele Alli” reverberated around the streets of Tottenham; pure jubilation. It’s fair to say the last North London Derby at White Hart Lane was everything the fans were hoping for.

White Hart Lane has been special this year. Nothing like any fan has ever seen. 2 – 0 wins over; Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal sum up what the Lane’s been like this season, a fortress. The season this great stadium, with so much history and passion built into its foundations, has deserved for so many years.

It’s sad to be leaving the Lane, so many great memories have been made there. Even weddings have been held at White Hart Lane, now that’s dedication. Although we all may love White Hart Lane, we also know that it’s the right thing to be moving onto bigger and hopefully better things.

Although we’re moving to Wembley next season, we’ll soon be back to our roots at White Hart Lane with one of the best stadiums in the world. World class facilities accompanied with world class players.

The future looks bright, very bright.

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Three at the back: Spurs’ Recipe For Success

FeaturedThree at the back: Spurs’ Recipe For Success

So, the recent Premier League ‘trend’ has been the use of formations with a back three. Although we’ve seen teams use a back three/five before in recent times (QPR under Redknapp, Sunderland under Allardyce and Southampton under Koeman), there hasn’t been much evidence of the set up being effective offensively. Some teams have been able to use it to become more solid defensively, but other than adding an extra defender, teams have struggled to draw many other benefits from it in the Premier League. Louis Van Gaal quickly resorted to a back four after a rocky start to life with United with a three-man back line, and Brendan Rodgers’ flirtations with the idea for Liverpool resulted in little success.

However, since Antonio Conte made the switch to a 3-4-3 back in September, his Chelsea side have been a revelation. His tactical amendment brought 13 straight wins, and suddenly it looked like a back three could be the basis for a successful Premier League formation. Then, in November, Pochettino sprung the tactical surprise of a back three away at the Emirates. With Alderweireld out at the time, a back three of Dier, Wimmer, Vertonghen sufficed, and managed to take away a 1-1 draw in a match where Spurs were arguably the better side. Since then, the formation has been used in numerous Premier League games, and to great success so far.

The formation has a very similar structure to Chelsea’s, with only minor differences. Guardiola noted this by claiming that “Mauricio and his positional game is quite similar to Chelsea but they have some different movements.” Chelsea’s 3-4-3 includes an attacking trio of one striker (Costa) and two wingers (Hazard, Pedro and occasionally Willian). Tottenham’s 3-4-2-1 on the other hand doesn’t include wingers up with the striker, but instead offers two attacking midfielders in behind him. Eriksen and Alli have often filled these roles, supporting Kane from both central and ‘half-space’ positions. This leaves space out wide for the wing-backs, Rose and Walker to attack, and this provides Tottenham’s greatest threat from the wings. 

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Spurs’ average formation in the first half vs. WBA – courtesy of the BBC.
As the BBC’s depiction of Tottenham’s average formation in the first half against West Brom suggests, Alli and Eriksen take up central positions close to Kane, whilst Rose and Walker operate almost as natural wingers, pushing as far up the pitch as possible.

The back three itself has worked very well so far. The versatility of Dier and Vertonghen allows them to cover the wide areas when needed, which was the one worry in the formations debut against Arsenal, when Ozil started to find space in behind the advanced Walker, and Dier wasn’t covering. This problem has since been addressed, and Dier looks a lot more comfortable than he initially did in this role. Vertonghen, the left sided centre back is also thriving in a back three, using his expertise as a left back to cover for Rose, and his footballing ability to step into midfield to create an overload when needed (as all three centre backs are capable of doing). In the centre, Alderweireld controls the defence and covers well on either side when Vertonghen or Dier push forward. On the ball, he uses accurate long range passing to pick out either Walker or Rose whenever he can.

Defensive organisation has been a big factor of Spurs’ season, having conceded just five times from open play and just 14 times overall, their best at this stage of any top flight season. A big part of this also comes from keeper and captain, Hugo Lloris, whose communication with his defence has been superb this season, aswell as his role as a sweeper-keeper, completing 100% of his twelve ‘keeper sweepings’ so far this season, the best ratio of any keeper in the league. This is a great attribute to possess, giving the back three comfort in playing a high line.

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Hugo Lloris is enjoying another good season between the sticks for Spurs.
In front of the defence sit the powerful partnership of Wanyama and Dembele. Their roles in the formation are to break up play in midfield and to protect the defence. Whilst both being combative, Wanyama is often the one tasked with sitting back whilst Dembele presses and harries opponents in various areas, although these roles can interchange if Wanyama is better placed to close down an opposing player. On top of this, Dembele also performs the role of a ball-carrier when the ball is won back, Dembele makes himself available to receive it and drive forward if the opportunity presents itself. The recent pattern in matches suggests a tiring Dembele will be replaced by the calmness and composure of Harry Winks to see results through.

The wing-backs perform arguably the hardest task in the system. Not only do they require a great deal of pace and stamina to cover their entire flank all game, but they also need to be suitably skilled in both defence and attack. With seven assists, two goals and 55 chances created between them this season, the duo have certainly been effective in their wing back roles.

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Spurs’ fullbacks have arguably been the most important players in the new system.
One big difference between their roles, and the roles of Chelsea’s wing backs Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso is their attacking extent. Chelsea’s pairing act as support for Pedro and Hazard, taking up a wide midfield position until an overlap is on or a winger drifts inside leaving space to attack. They are the secondary threat. Spurs’ wing backs are very much the primary threat, looking to play on opposition full backs whenever they can, and break forward into attack at every opportunity.

An example of this attacking freedom is Tottenham’s second goal in their 4-0 win over West Brom. Rose picked the ball up on the left, drove inside with the ball eventually finding its way to Walker via Eriksen, carried on his cross-field run, picked the ball back up from Walker just inside the right corner of the box where he laid it off to Eriksen, whose deflected shot found the back of the net. The confidence and adventurous nature of Rose here reflects the large amount of faith and confidence Mauricio Pochettino has in his full backs.

The two attacking midfielders offer creativity from a more central position. It was Son and Eriksen against Arsenal, but more recently Alli has taken Son’s place. They aim to drift between the midfield and attack, finding space between the lines to occupy. Eriksen, usually on the right of the two, will take positions to link up play and create chances, whilst Alli focuses on breaking the forward line to finish chances aswell as creating them. This makes them very difficult to pick up, partly explaining the pair’s recent flurry of goals and assists. They combined twice against Chelsea in the aforementioned fashion. Eriksen found space on the right, and put in two great crossed to find Alli who cleverly found space at the far post twice, to finish off two well executed moves.

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Dele Alli has been in impressive form this season and is another player crucial in Pochettino’s new system.
As well as creating chances, the two also assist with the pressing, often using Kane’s triggers to close down opposition defenders and pick up spare men. This is also something that Walker and Rose will assist with if they are forward, in order to overload the opposition.

Kane’s role as a lone striker may seem simple, just it requires a lot of versatility and skill. Acting as an all-round, complete striker, Kane will be tasked with a number of duties in a match, fulfilling the role of a target man and poacher primarily, holding and play and getting on the end of chances, aswell as dropping deeper to link play, and acting as the team’s press trigger for closing down. Kane thrives off of the variety of service he receives, and the system creates a number of different types of chances, coming from either the creative guile of the attacking midfielders behind him, or the dangerous deliveries from the wing backs on either flank.

Overall, the formation has allowed Spurs to gain more control in matches, as they always have at least three players behind the ball at all times as a safety net for losing possession. The attacking trio, along with the wing backs and occasionally Dembele or Wanyama all pressing the opposition allows Spurs to close down in numbers, making life extremely difficult for the opposition at times. Aswell as outnumbering opponents in attack, the three central defenders working well together have formed a difficult barrier to break down, and as shown against Chelsea, can be just as effective as a compact defensive unit, as they are when covering the pitch to give options on the ball. This has meant Spurs have looked a more dominant and secure in this variation of the 3-4-3 / 3-4-2-1 / 3-2-5, and it’ll be interesting to see if they persist with this tactic while Vertonghen is out injured.

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How Christian Eriksen’s role against Manchester City benefited the team

FeaturedHow Christian Eriksen’s role against Manchester City benefited the team

Mauricio Pochettino’s tactical decisions allowed Spurs to outperform an on form Manchester City side. With City winning all of their league games previous to the clash, Pep Guardiola’s side looked as if they would storm the title race this year. However, The Sky Blues were stopped in their tracks by the North London team. Spurs played City at their own game. A high intensity game, quick intricate passes and a forceful press from Tottenham strangled City out of the first 45 minutes as well as giving them a 2-0 lead. A solid defensive performance in the second half meant that City could not find their way back into the game no matter how hard they tried.

Tottenham started the game with their typical 4-2-3-1 formation. Dele Alli and Victor Wanyama took up the double pivot in the absence of Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele, while Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Mousa Sissoko formed the attacking three behind the on-form Heung-Min Son. However, as the game progressed Spurs changed to a 4-1-4-1 formation which saw an interesting development in Christian Eriksen’s role during the game.

Eriksen is a vital player to Spurs. The Dane acts as the metronome for the team, he controls the rhythm and tempo of the game. As seen in the past, Tottenham are a completely different team without the playmaker or when he dips in form. Eriksen’s favoured position to play is behind the striker in the number 10 role, however as Dele Alli thrives in that hole behind the striker Eriksen has been forced out onto the left wing. While this hasn’t massively affected Eriksen’s game overall came he still has more control from central positions. If anything Eriksen’s position on the left hinders the team slightly when he drifts into the center of the pitch and stays there too long. This creates a more narrow midfield and sometimes leaves the team unbalanced.

Against City, Eriksen took up a role which we have never seen him play in before. Alli continued to play higher up the pitch behind Son, even though he originally started alongside Wanyama, and Lamela and Sissoko occupied the left and right wing respectively. Eriksen on the other hand took up a Luka Modric-esque role, controlling the game from deep and doing so without restricting his  creativity. With both Alli and Eriksen playing in central roles Spurs got the best out of both players. The move also helped Spurs implement their high press as by playing Lamela and Sissoko out wide it put pressure on City’s full backs, who were intent on playing out from the back, as the two players stayed out wide, unlike Eriksen who often drifts in.

With Spurs playing with a false nine and four attacking midfielders they had an extra man allowing them to press in groups of twos or threes, forcing City’s defence into numerous mistakes that the Lilywhites would capitalise on.

On top of this Eriksen’s partnership with Wanyama throughout the game allowed the Tottenham to break onto City quickly. With Wanyama providing a flawless performance in breaking up Guardiola’s team’s attacks, Eriksen would quickly pick up the second ball and recycle it back out to an attacking midfielder and consequently start a new attack on the back of City’s. Eriksen has come under criticism for his lack of defensive abilities. While Eriksen doesn’t put in numerous tackles every game he does win second balls as well as intercepting play and gaining back possession through pressing opponents and this is just as important, if not more, for Tottenham’s style of play.

With Pochettino hinting in his post match comments that Tottenham may only play with one defensive midfielder in the future, will we see Eriksen in this role more often? With Mousa Dembele still to return to the squad it is difficult to tell, but I would not be surprised to see Eriksen progress into this deeper role.

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Seven New Contract Signings in a Month Shows Trust Throughout The Club

FeaturedSeven New Contract Signings in a Month Shows Trust Throughout The Club

With fullbacks Kyle Walker and Danny Rose being the latest two players to sign contract extensions, the past month has seen seven players commit their futures to Tottenham. In the same week as Walker and Rose signed new contracts, Harry Winks, Tom Carroll and Dele Alli also signed, with Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen committing at the beginning of the month.

The new contracts not only show that the players are excited about where the club is heading and want to be a part of it but it also shows commitment from chairman Daniel Levy. In the past Spurs have never had a massive payroll and this has been a problem when trying to get players to commit their future to the club. Yet the timing between contracts suggest that there hasn’t been this problem and so Daniel Levy must be offering a considerably good pay rise, while it still wont rival the bigger clubs. Yet the fact that the players are still signing just shows that they aren’t as money driven and want to focus on the game and the success of the club.

To add to this Pochettino recently revealed in an interview that the club have brought in a new system when it comes to offering player’s new contracts. The policy requires players to ask for an extension rather than the club having to convince them. In order for this policy to stand Daniel Levy would have had to agree to it. The fact that he has shows the trust the chairman has in not only the manager but, the players. It is obvious that the policy was suggested by Pochettino and the fact that Levy has agreed to it shows the faith he has in the manager. As it requires the players to come forward and request the new contracts, Levy is giving them a lot of control in deciding theirs and the clubs future.

The Argentine also commented that in order to build a strong base and work up from there you must have players who want to stay and be part of a bigger picture. This proves even more relevant for Pochettino as in order for his philosophy to succeed he must have the players who are willing to work hard for him and buy into his gruesome training sessions and tough pressing style. The fact that so many players have asked for a contract is a positive reflection on the manager and shows the trust that runs throughout the club. The players believe that they have a future here with him.

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Harry Kane’s injury gives Vincent Janssen a chance to step up

FeaturedHarry Kane’s injury gives Vincent Janssen a chance to step up

Harry Kane picked up an ankle injury yesterday against Sunderland in Spurs’ 1-0 win over the Black Cats which moved the Lilywhites up to third in the Premier League. Kane, who left White Hart Lane yesterday wearing a protective boot and on crutches, is now set to be sidelined for several weeks.

Since making his mark at the beginning of the 2014/15 season with his consistent performances in the Europa League, and then the Premier League, Kane went on to feature for England for two summers in a row – first for the U19s and then in the Euros the following season.

If Kane picked up this injury at any point last season, most Spurs fans would have been panicking twice as much as they are now. With new signing Vincent Janssen still awaiting for a consistent run in the team, Harry Kane’s injury could just prove to be the breakthrough that the Dutchman has been craving for – although it unfortunately comes at the expense of Spurs’ number 10.

Despite the fact that Vincent Janssen is yet to score in a competitive game for Spurs, he has impressed on multiple occasions when called upon; his strength on the ball and his hold up play being his most notable attributes thus far. It has to be admitted that he is more of a goal poacher than a goal scorer that can always make a chance out of nothing and find the net – his goals at AZ last season prove that. Give him the service and he’ll score.

Vincent Janssen has so far only started one Premier League game against Crystal Palace, but has usually found himself sitting on the bench and featuring in the second half of most games. In the upcoming weeks, Vincent Janssen will certainly be hopeful of filling in the void left by Harry Kane.

Janssen is likely to start against Gillingham in the third round of the EFL Cup at White Hart Lane. Let’s hope he can score his first goal in Spurs colours on Wednesday night and kick on from there.

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Moussa Sissoko: Money Well Spent?

Moussa Sissoko: Money Well Spent?

When news broke that Spurs (or anyone) was willing to pay £30m for Moussa Sissoko many eyebrows were raised. Despite having a good Euros, Sissoko has a reputation for inconsistency and questionable commitment. When he first joined Newcastle in January 2013, he looked like a fine player, hitting three goals and two assists in his first 12 Premier League matches, including a brace against Chelsea in just his second appearance. However, since then he has only managed eight goals and 15 assists in the 106 League appearances since his debut season for Newcastle, with nearly half of those assists coming just last season.

Sissoko has a habit of only turning up in ‘big games’. Scoring goals in wins against Chelsea and Man City, scoring away at Arsenal, scoring the goal that kept Newcastle in the Premier League with his winner against West Ham on the final day of the 2014-15 season, and scoring in a 3-0 win against Swansea that sparked a five match unbeaten run at the end of last season. On top of this he often has stand out performances against the bigger sides including Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Spurs.

His pattern of pulling out the big performances for the big matches continued at the Euros, putting in group-stage-performances strong enough to work his way into France’s first team for their quarter final match against Iceland where he caused problems down the right, before being given a more central role in the semi-final and final against Germany and Portugal, where he was arguably France’s best player over the two matches.

His Euro performance may be a case of Sissoko turning the heat up in games that will get him more attention, as he knows the world is watching and will have been undoubtedly trying to attract a big club following Newcastle’s relegation, but there is also a chance that Sissoko might just actually be a ‘big game player’ who benefited from being surrounded by players of a higher level than he had around him at Newcastle.

Playing alongside Pogba, in front of Matuidi and behind Payet and Griezmann, clearly improved Sissoko’s game as they offered more support, cover and overall quality than he’d usually have alongside him. At Spurs, he’d also have a higher level of teammate than he’s had before, receiving cover and support from Dier and Dembele, aswell as having the creativity of Lamela, Eriksen and Alli around him. This may be what Sissoko needs in order to adapt a more consistent style.

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Playing in the Euros got the best out of Moussa Sissoko.

Another way in which Pochettino could possibly get the best out of Sissoko is giving him more responsibility. The Frenchman seems to thrive off of responsibility. In his first ever match as Newcastle United captain, he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against QPR. Rafa Benitez then made the decision to make Sissoko captain for the last six games of last season – replacing Jonjo Shelvey who wore the armband previously. Benitez claimed that he believed Sissoko had a “big influence” at the club, due to the large number of French players Newcastle have. In the first of these six matches, Newcastle beat Swansea 3-0, with Sissoko getting on the scoresheet.

Sissoko had an outstanding second match against Man City, terrorising City’s defence numerous times and exploiting Kolarov’s defensive weaknesses and his assist earned The Magpies a 1-1 draw.

They then went to Anfield where another strong Sissoko performance helped them come from two down to draw 2-2.

A win and a draw against Palace and Villa respectively maintained this impressive unbeaten run, but their best was yet to come, as in the sixth and final game that Sissoko captained Newcastle for, they stuck five past Spurs in that infamous game that us Spurs fans tend not to talk about. Sissoko’s powerful run down the left was followed by a dive (yes, dive) that earned Newcastle a penalty which lead to their third goal, which then triggered a series of chances and goals for them as Spurs became increasingly lighter defensively. I think it’s clear that Sissoko’s appointment as captain played a big part in their six game unbeaten run at the end of the season, and although it wasn’t enough to keep them up, it has gone some way to proving that Sissoko can perform consistently well.

That isn’t to say that we need to make Sissoko captain in order for him to play well, but it does suggest that Sissoko does perform better when there is a greater worth or importance to his role. This partly explains why he seems to perform well at international level, as each individual game at the World Cup or Euros holds more importance than each Premier League game individually. This is probably why he has the same amount of World Cup goals in three appearances, as he managed in the league last season in 37 appearances. He seems to only turn it on when it really matters to him.

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Could Moussa Sissoko become a big game player for Spurs?

 

Pochettino may need to give Sissoko responsibility by giving him important roles in midfield in big matches. For example, France manager Didier Deschamps switched Moussa’s role for the final two games in order to get the best out of him. Although Sissoko was performing well on the right, the impact he could have on matches through the centre with his strong, powerful playing style was much greater. By switching his position for the two most important games, it meant Sissoko could relish a more pivotal role in the biggest matches of his career, and his relentless enthusiasm in these matches suggests that Deschamps made the correct decision.

His versatility isn’t just something that can be used to improve his performances however, as his ability to play almost anywhere in midfield is something that Pochettino can use to alter the way we approach certain games. For example, if teams are playing a high line or pushing their full backs on, Sissoko’s strengths would be either out wide or supporting the striker where he can use his strength and pace to get in behind teams or exploit the space out wide. However in tighter matches where teams are more compact, the team could benefit from Sissoko being played deeper in a central midfield role, where his power can be used to win midfield battles, and he can use his passing range to try and unlock tight defences and create chances for our more attacking players.

Sissoko will bring many different skills to Tottenham, and his style is also quite dissimilar to any other player at the club. He’s much more direct than Eriksen and Lamela, and stronger than the likes of Onomah, Son and Nkoudou. He has the ability to beat players, not through skill and guile like our current attackers, but through pure pace and power. His rapid acceleration combined with his ability to dribble and strength to hold of players gives him a similar dribbling style to Dembele, although Sissoko will beat players with more threat and purpose, in more advanced, dangerous areas meaning he can create more chances.

He also has a wider range of passes than Dier, Dembele and Alli. He’ll play the risky option more than most of our midfielders would, and creates chances through incisive through balls and probing long passes. Sissoko got seven assists last season, which is an impressive enough return as it is, but when you consider that Newcastle only scored 44 times in the league, you realise that Sissoko alone made 16% of their goals, which highlights the importance he had to their team. He’ll also make constant runs both on and off the ball, either out wide or through the centre, which will benefit Kane hugely as he likes to feed off players in and around him. This will also add an extra dimension to our attacks as we lack players who run from deep.

There are however, question marks over his defensive discipline as he’s a very attack minded player. This may deter Pochettino from playing him alongside Dier in midfield initially, but he may work on this role with him in order for him to be adequate cover for Dembele when need be. I have also seen some people question his work rate, but on his day, you’ll struggle to find a more persistent, relentless and energetic player than Sissoko. When he’s up for it, he’ll challenge for every ball, track back well, make non-stop forward runs and I’m sure he’ll adapt to Spurs’ pressing style very quickly. Pochettino would hardly allow the club to sign a player that doesn’t suit our style, let alone demand we sign him no matter what the cost, as he reportedly did.

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Inconsistency has become a recurring factor throughout Moussa Sissoko’s career.

 

An area that Sissoko does need to improve on however, is goals. He clearly has the ability to score, his goals are usually fine finishes, but he just doesn’t do it enough. 11 goals from 118 appearances is just not good enough for a player worth £30million (Unless you’re Yannick Bolasie and do a crazy skill every now and then). Sissoko has all the tools to be a goalscorer, but for some reason it just hasn’t happened. This could be due to Newcastle using him as their prime playmaker, as he does seem to hit more assists than goals every season. This means that Sissoko was in the team to make goals for their other attackers, whilst no one made the chances for him.

This is evident when you compare his stats to Wijnaldum, a player of a similar position, in the same team, who played a very similar amount of minutes. WIjnaldum had 54 shots overall, with 42 coming inside the area, while Sissoko had 38 shots overall (about one per match) with only 26 of them being inside the area. Then when it comes to key passes and chances created, Sissoko had six and eight more respectively. The gap isn’t as big here, but it still shows how Sissoko’s game had obviously been given a focus on creating chances rather than scoring them.

Overall I feel that Spurs have taken a big risk with this transfer, but it’s one that potentially holds an even bigger reward. If they can keep Sissoko motivated, he’ll be a massive player for them, as they’ll have a physically overpowering midfielder who can operate a number of roles. Not only can he cover multiple positions, but he’ll be aiming to work himself into the team and make one of the positions his own, whether it’s out wide, in the centre of the pitch or a little more further forward.

Being at a club that is looking to challenge for things and playing in the Champions League should be enough to keep him happy, as well as the influential role he’ll have as one our most experienced players. He could be one to bring on the likes of Winks, Onomah and even Alli, as all of them have traits and skills that they could pick up from Moussa’s style. This responsibility, coupled with the faith of the fans and manager and the potential that the current squad holds might be enough to get a consistent run of form out of Sissoko, and if it is, then the eyebrow raising £30m might just turn out to be money well spent.

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