If you stop Eriksen do you stop Spurs?
Christian Eriksen is possibly one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. He’s a quiet guy, not a particularly sellable brand or personality for the marketing men, so he can often slip under the radar when it comes to lists of top players among fans and pundits.
However, the Dane is far more consistently a key figure in matches in the English top flight than more lauded figures such as Mesut Ozil at Arsenal or Eden Hazard at Chelsea. His stats show bear that out and Antonio Conte’s defensive formation was as much about preventing Eriksen from finding pockets of space as it was to stifle Spurs.
The Dane was the north Londoners best player in both Premier League meetings between the clubs last season.
If Eriksen can’t pull the strings then Tottenham struggle for chances in the final third. There was the odd moment of excitement, but despite having 68 per cent of the possession and playing well in certain areas of the pitch, Tottenham didn’t actually test Thibaut Courtois that much.
In fact, the best moments still came from Eriksen, with set pieces. One delicious dead ball delivery that somehow wasn’t put into the goal and the one that Batshuayi could only put into his own net.
Spurs need an Eriksen alternative on the pitch or alongside him to create some magic when space is tight.
Kane and his August issue
The fact that Harry Kane still hasn’t got a goal in August is starting to get a bit weird. The player is doing everything he can and hit one shot straight against the post at Wembley, among a string of chances.
In fact the England striker had eight shots in total on the day, which is his most yet in a Premier League game without finding the net.
It’s not like he looks rusty either. He scored throughout pre-season and has looked good at Newcastle and certainly in the first half against Chelsea, but the goals just won’t come.
Kane has now had 34 shots during 12 games in the month of August during his professional career without scoring in the Premier League.
He’ll be doing everything he can to change that against Burnley next Sunday but will fate allow it?
Did Victor Wanyama and Kieran Trippier come back too soon?
It seems an odd coincidence that the two players who made their first starts of the season after injury were arguably the two most disappointing in terms of their displays.
Even half-fit, Trippier was always likely to start, despite Kyle Walker-Peters’ fine debut at Newcastle as Pochettino would have wanted his added experience against the champions.
However, Trippier didn’t do the things he does best. He had a subdued match, rarely breaking into the final third and passing inside to the midfielders far more than he attempted to whip in his usual, curling crosses.
Wanyama was even worse. His rusty performance was similar to the one he put in at Anfield last season, with far too many passes misplaced and he was caught in possession for the deciding goal.
The problem for Pochettino was that the only other player on the bench who could have put in a claim to start – Heung-Min Son – was also coming back from injury and wouldn’t have been fully fit either.
Hugo Lloris’ concentration
It’s tough to criticise a player who earns points for Spurs by himself at times throughout the season with gravity-defying saves, but sometimes Hugo Lloris has moments that bring him back down to earth with other keepers.
Occasionally in the big games against top opposition, the skipper makes basic errors that although he will be the first to hold his hands up to, are perhaps the reason why he’s not given a seat at that top world class table with the likes of Buffon, Neuer and perhaps De Gea.
The shot from Alonso that won the game at Wembley squeezed under his body when it really shouldn’t and nobody will be more annoyed tonight than the Frenchman as he plays it over and over again in his mind.
Sometimes a stinging loss before the transfer window closes isn’t the worst thing
Daniel Levy isn’t a man to panic – although the Moussa Sissoko deal might suggest otherwise – but the defeat against Chelsea, while galling for the fans may not have come at the worst time for Mauricio Pochettino.
There was an irony in the fact that after last season’s FA Cup semi-final when Chelsea’s bench was so strong compared to Tottenham’s, this time Spurs probably had the stronger bench and still lost.
That’s because a stronger bench does not necessarily in this case mean more options. In terms of game changers, Pochettino only had a half-fit Son to bring on. He clearly doesn’t trust Vincent Janssen, who got his monthly five minutes to impress.
Which means that Levy must go all out to bring Poch’s main target – Ross Barkley – to Spurs, even with his current injury.
We’ve spoken about Eriksen above and the Everton midfielder is the closest the Lilywhites will find to another magic maker who can work in tight spaces and give the team another option alongside or instead of the Dane.
More attacking alternatives would not go amiss either in these last 11 days of the window – along with the eventual return of Erik Lamela – and while Pochettino was pleased with his players, he knows that having to bring Moussa Sissoko off the bench in the last ten minutes in order to try to rescue a game means something is missing in his squad.
Levy’s phone will need to be fully charged in the days ahead because it’s going to be used heavily.