Date: 6th December 2018 at 10:48am
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Another killer analysis from Forensic Onions himself

The Selections

With Vertonghen suspended, Alderweireld came back in and partnered Foyth. Rose and Trippier came in for Aurier and Davies, this was almost certainly just about rotation, but both Aurier and Davies had been pretty unhinged at the weekend. In midfield, Winks came in for Sissoko, who’d been labouring against both Inter and Woolwich. In the forward area Alli, who was very insipid at Woolwich, was replaced by Moura.

These changes all seemed pretty logical to me. I think a criticism of Pochettino in season’s past has been has lack of willing to rotate his “favourites” and we’ve seen Eriksen flogged to death and Alli allowed to bumble while an on form Son twiddled his thumbs on the bench.

The world cup, Asia games and a litany of injuries have forced Poch’s to re-think his rotation strategy a little I think, and I hope we reap the reward as the season goes on. And if nothing else it keeps players on their toes. Except Dier of course, who’s passion for photography almost certainly includes a dossier compromising snaps of Poch dressed as a Parisian hooker, which he’s been using for three years to guarantee a midfield place.

The Structure

It was the good old Poch favourite 4231 tonight, which matched up with Southampton’s. Dier and Winks played pretty much as a double pivot, Eriksen played in his old 10/ACM role with Son and Moura the wide AM’s.

The Game

This was a really odd game, it almost had the feel of a reserve match, with neither side really showing much intensity, the game oscillating as we dominated longer spells then they had phases where they looked quite threatening. Luckily, we scored with our phases of domination, they didn’t, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves, when it comes to chances, this game could easily have finished much closer that it did – we ended up with an XG of 1.40, theirs was 1.68 and this pretty much reflected the reality, and was yet another game we just lost all control of in the latter stages. This was Wolves all over again, in fact it was even worse, as Southampton created more and better chances than Wolves did and but for terrible finishing and some good keeping this game could have got very squeaky.

At three up, you expect a little more pragmatism, be compact, work hard and just snuff out the game, keep the ball, starve the opposition, but lately we seem incapable of this kind of maturity. Son’s still flitting around like a puppy dog, doing nothing very defensively meaningful, pressing passively, tackling nobody (has anyone ever seen Son tackle anyone?) leaving Rose very exposed, Moura’s a bit zippier but also lacks discipline. I thought with the ball our midfield duo were OK, no more, but without the ball, neither were great.

Poch’s substitutions have always been a very abstract concept to me. Like a David Lynch movie without my mate Jerry to explain the plot. I really don’t understand why at 3-0 our first sub isn’t taking off one or both of our two most important players – Eriksen or Kane – not Moura, who’d played less football than anyone on that pitch in the last 14 days. And we have a busy little fucker of a midfielder on the bench who could have come on and helped sure up the midfield, and at the same time maybe giving him a good 20-25 minutes experience in a reasonably safe environment. We and he may have learnt something valuable about each other. Did Sissoko need that 15 minutes? Did we also need to risk Alli at all, especially for 10 minutes, and did a game we had lost all grip on need another talented but bumbly attacking midfielder or would the more terrier like Skipp have been tactically more astute?

The Individuals

Lloris – Pretty outstanding game, several very good saves.

Trippier – OK. Crossing was poor by his standards. Pressed well for the third goal.

Foyth – Decent enough game

Alderweireld – Good game

Rose – First game back for a while, so bound to be rusty but pretty ropey game to be honest, offensively offered almost nothing and defensively was really shoddy at times. Didn’t get much help for Son at times either.

Dier – Laborious

Winks – OK/Meh

Moura – Flitted about, took his goal well, but I’m struggling to think of anything else creatively tangible to hang a hat on.

Eriksen – A pretty standard game. Saw plenty of the ball, helped us tick over, hand in a goal.

Son – Was lively enough when we had the ball and posed some questions, good run for the goal, but a bit flakey when we don’t have the ball.

Kane – Good ball for Son’s goal, but otherwise a pretty poor game truth be told. Didn’t see enough ball, even when we were dominating, and didn’t work too hard without it. I think we could have rested him today and started Son up front.


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Not so sure; our attacking play like our defense, is about the interactions and mix of individuals, not entirely about the individuals themselves. We saw Saturday how that played out.

It’s about player combos and by far the most successful is Kane, Erikson and Alli. Lamela fits well with this combo as does Son, though Moura not quite so well.

Sadly, we are not able to field that combo regularly due to injury and when we do, fatigue dulls the edge.

As for tackling FO, Poch has always been ok with the front line(s) harrying rather than tackling. Eriksen seldom actually goes into a challenge.


I believe we are seeing more and more evidence that Eriksen and Alli are a bad combination to have on the pitch at the same time. For sure theyare both great finesse players who can turn a game around with a moment of inspiration but neither of them are able to take command and dig in when the team are under pressure. This is a real problem when coupled with the current lack of a midfield terrier who can link defense with attack. Against Chelsea Poch was able to level the odds in midfield by using Alli to neutralize their midfield engine room but against Arsenal we saw Alli return to his rather vague role further up the pitch and our midfield was overrun. Spurs are clearly in urgent need of defensive midfield reinforcements but even if help arrives in January I don’t think they can afford to field two finesse players at the same time. If I had to choose to keep one or the other it would be Eriksen because with better support he may be able to more consistently impact a game whereas Alli seems to grow less influential as opposing defenders continue to suss out his weaknesses.


Foyth did very well last night. Riding out his previous mistakes with professionalism.


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