Having a row of quality strikers does not guarantee a team will have an attack line that is easy to score.
Just look at Tottenham. Have Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura, Christian Eriksen, and Erik Lamela, but were unable to break into Newcastle United’s goal in the third week of the English Premier League 2019/20.
Instead, Spurs actually lost without scoring a goal . 0-1. In the cage anyway.
Of course beating Spurs for Newcastle is a surprise. Newcastle in the first two games lost to Arsenal and Norwich City. So one of the difficult teams is creating opportunities too. Their manager, Steve Bruce, to get criticism from supporters of Newcastle.
Joelinton’s goal did not prove that Newcastle had improved. Newcastle won because of the Spurs who performed worse. Specifically, Spurs have bad habits up front facing teams that survive in depth with 10 players (except the goalkeeper).
Newcastle played a basic pattern 5-4-1 when he didn’t have the ball. Spurs are struggling themselves even though the ball is almost always at their feet. How not, the mastery of the ball they recorded reaches 80 percent! A total of 763 operands were released. For comparison, the number of operands The Magpies is only 190 times. Only a quarter of the Tottenham operands.
Spurs did record 17 shots. But only two that lead to the goal. Just two! Newcastle who recorded only eight shots successfully incised three shots on goal. One is a goal.
Kane as an isolated spearhead. A total of 90 minutes of play, only 1 shot was done. An attacker who functions as a final finish but only takes one shot is clearly a strong indication that something is wrong with their attack pattern. Spurs’ shots came from attacking midfielders like Son (6) and Moura (5).
Maybe Spurs need a supplier of mature passes to the attackers? Of course. The task was carried out by Harry Winks. But Winks passes do not endanger the Newcastle defense. Of the 136 operands, 62 of them lead close to and inside the Newcastle penalty box. But only once was the key bait.
The number of operands Lamela, Moura, and Son when combined “only” 130 operands, which means it is still less than the number of operands Winks. Lamela once recorded a key pass, Son twice, Moura zero. Maybe because of this, Moura, Son and Kane were rarely played together by Mauricio Pochettino, where the last time the three played together was boxing day 2018 ago.
Another hope came from Moussa Sissoko. But positioned as an anchor midfielder with Winks, the movement of the French midfielder was certainly limited because he had to help the defense as well. Three key operands were finally unable to save Spurs from defeat.
Eriksen is the only player that Spurs need the most. But the Danish National Team midfielder is at the crossroads between staying in the Spurs uniform or moving the club. Pochettino is getting used to not relying too heavily on him in anticipation of the former Ajax Amsterdam playmakerleaving.
Eriksen’s influence was felt when Spurs faced Aston Villa. Spurs who suffered a deadlock 0-1, entering Eriksen in the 62nd minute to replace Winks, Spurs immediately scored equalizing goal 9 minutes later. More than that, Spurs finally won through two goals scored by Kane in the 86th and 91th minutes.
Another proof of Eriksen’s big influence is that Spurs managed to record 16 shots in a tempo of less than 30 minutes (the duration Eriksen played at that time).
The number exceeded the number of shots in the first 64 minutes (without Eriksen) totaling 15 shots.
Likewise in the match against Newcastle. Playing since the 62nd minute, or again around half an hour with Eriksen, Spurs managed to record 11 shots, which means without Eriksen for an hour they were only able to create 6 shots. Eriksen contributed two shots.
But of course not always a substitute can be a team savior. Likewise with Eriksen, no matter how great he is. The situation certainly strengthens indications that the Spurs attack was poor without Eriksen.
During his heyday (although he did not produce a champion), Spurs relied not only on Eriksen, but also on the exploitation of both wing-backs, especially when he was still inhabited by Kyle Walker at right-back and Dany Rose before a long injury at left-back. Both were diligent in helping the attack, sending mature crosses to Kane, as well as Dele Alli. Had had Kieran Trippier, but he also moved, to Atletico Madrid.
At the right-back post is currently inhabited by young defender Kyle Walker-Pieters. The 22-year-old defender has recorded a hat trick last season. But it was a rare opportunity, which could be considered just a coincidence. Because even now his expertise in sending crosses has not yet been shown.
The problem of Spurs’s poor attack might be resolved if Eriksen does not move, spending the rest of his contract, which is only one year left. Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli who were in the treatment room could be a solution, but both are not typical midfielder asis.
Even with a loan player from Real Betis, Giovani Lo Celso, whose assists were only 5 times last season, while the number of goals reached 16 goals in all competitions. But still, the presence of Lo Celso still has not answered the question “Who can spoil the Spurs attackers?”.
True Spurs last season reached the final of the Champions League. But in the English Premier League, more teams play like Newcastle than teams who play openly like the big clubs in the Champions League. After all, against Manchester City in the second week, Spurs recorded only three shots to score two equalizing goals, even Pep Guardiola said only twice because Kane’s shot was actually not a shot on goal. They also almost lost if not saved by Video Assistant Referee (VAR). It was also not free from Kane’s injury since the beginning of the year until the end of the 2018/19 season so that Pochettino could not play Moura, Son and Kane together.
Actually, if Eriksen survives maybe the problem in attack can be overcome as soon as possible. But if he survives that means Spurs must be prepared to lose it for free next summer 2020. If Eriksen leaves, Pochettino has a great homework to find the lousy solution to Spurs’ attacking line without Eriksen.