|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2)||LEEDS UNITED 0 (0)|
|Date : – 2nd January 2021||Kick off : – 12.30|
|Competition : – Premier League||Venue : – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|Crowd : – 0,000|
|Referee : – David Coote (Nottinghamshire)||Linesmen : – Mr. Lee Betts; Mr. Nick Hopton|
|Fourth official : – Graham Scott|
|VAR official : – Paul Tierney||VAR Assistant : – Matthew Wilkes|
|Weather : – Sunny, chilly|
|Leeds United kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end|
|Playing time : – 90 + 5 minutes
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||LEEDS UNITED|
|Kane (p) 28m 20s|
|Son 42m 31s|
|Alderweireld 49m 45s|
|Winks (kicking the ball away) 54||Phillips (foul on Vinicius 90)|
|Doherty (foul on Ayling) 64|
|Hojbjerg (foul on Hernandez) 85|
|Doherty (foul on Hernandez) 90+2|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||LEEDS UNITED|
|1.||Hugo LLORIS (c)||1.||Illan MESLIER|
|2.||Matt DOHERTY||15.||Stuart DALLAS|
|4.||Toby ALDERWEIRELD||2.||Luke AYLING (c)|
|15.||Eric DIER||21.||Pascal STRUIJK|
|33.||Ben DAVIES||10.||Ezgjan ALIOSKI ( 46. Jack SHACKLETON 64)|
|5.||Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG||23.||Kalvin PHILLIPS|
|8.||Harry WINKS ( 17. Moussa SISSOKO 76)|
|23.||Steven BERGWIJN||20.||RODRIGO ( 19. Pablo HERNANDEZ 65)|
|28.||Tanguy NDOMBELE ( 27. Lucas MOURA 78)||43.||Mateusz KLICH|
|7.||Heung-Min SON||22.||Jack HARRISON ( 7. Ian POVEDA-OCAMPO 61)|
|10.||Harry KANE (p) ( 45. Carlos VINICIUS 87)||9.||Patrick BAMFORD|
|12.||Joe HART||13.||Kiko CASILLA|
|3.||Sergio REGUILON||35.||Charlie CRESSWELL|
|14.||Joe RODON||49.||Oliver CASEY|
|25.||Japhet TANGANGA||17.||Helder COSTA|
|20.||DELE Alli||47.||Jack JENKINS|
|30.||Gedson FERNANDES||52.||Niall HUGGINS|
|Manager : – Jose Mourinho||Manager : – Marcelo Bielsa|
|Kit Supplier : – Nike||Kit Supplier : – adidas|
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA||Shirt Sponsor : – SBOTOP|
|Colours : –
||Colours : –|
|Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website|
Tottenham have had problems getting games over the line after leading recently, giving rise to media claims of being too defensive, but at home against Leeds United, as 3-0 win was all about getting over the line. A penalty given for a foul on the line of the penalty area started it all and then Son’s well-times run avoided the dreaded VAR lines before Toby Alderweireld’s second half header was adjudged to have crossed the line to seal a win over one of the Premier League’s “entertainers”.
Jose Mourinho made only two changes, having missed a game on 30th December, with Sergio Reguilon relegated to the bench for what was later announced was a breach of Covid-19 Tier 4 requirements when he attended a party with Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini). The formation was the usual 4-2-3-1, while Bielsa set up Leeds in a 4-1-4-1 line-up.
With Leeds’ style this season common knowledge, the press all over the pitch came as soon as they lost the ball from the kick-off. The Spurs back four were under pressure as Bielsa’s side looked to win the ball high up the pitch. Within four minutes, the visiting side had moved the ball to their left and Alioski was put through in the box and hastily fired his shot into the side-netting.
When Leeds had the ball in their defence, Kane and Son had the difficult task of closing down four players, allowing them to move the ball out. When we had it, we were looking to slide it down the flanks to get runners trying to get in behind the full-backs. When Son looked to run at the back four, he was caught by Dallas as he made a tackle and as Hojbjerg looked for Leeds to put the ball out, they played on. They ran the ball up to the Spurs penalty area on the left and a cross fell to Klich, who snatched at his shot that flew into the upper tiers of the South Stand. Leeds had Spurs outnumbered on the break, but between Rodrigo and Bamford they closed down the space for themselves and the latter hit a weak shot at goal. A free-kick to the left for Spurs was played in by Son from 25 yards and although it was cleared, Kane picked it up, back-heeled Son into the area and when the ball came back to Kane he hit it first time, rising over the bar. The Leeds way of playing the ball out does lead them into problems at times, with Ayling’s square ball 22 yards out was intercepted by Bergwijn, who dragged his shot weak and wide from just outside the area. Another stupid free-kick conceded on the Spurs left by Rodrigo went beyond everyone at the far post and Kane laid it back to Ndombele, who ran into the box, squaring the ball that came out to Hojbjerg to hit first time, but Meslier was down and behind it to stop it in front of his goal-line. Leeds then came forward and Bamford got in behind Alderweireld, but with a free header, he put it over the top from a couple of yards out, unable to get over the ball.
Bergwijn’s loose pass gave possession to Bamford and Leeds built pressure, but Hojbjerg and Davies tidied up inside the Spurs box. Ayling wasn’t pushing forward as much as he usually does, but Spurs found themselves mobbed whenever they got the ball in a forward position. The breakthrough came when Meslier gave the ball away with a pass out of his box and it was played up to Bergwijn by Winks. He let the ball run to turn Alioski, but the left-back knocked the Dutchman over and the referee had no doubt about pointing to the spot. VAR backed him up and Harry Kane struck the penalty straight down the middle, as the keeper dived to his right, to hand Spurs an unlikely lead in terms of the play up until then.
Alioski then repeated his foul on Bergwijn 30 yards out, giving Son the chance to play the free-kick in and Hojbjerg recycled it, beating his man to the by-line and then playing it low to Toby. His shot was blocked by Ayling at close range, with the ball going out to Kane on the left, but his attempted curler was wide, as he lost his bearings a little. A quick free-kick at the other end saw Bamford nearly sneak in behind the defence onto the end of a pass along the ground, but Ben Davies was alert to the situation and cleared before Lloris could dive on it, just to be safe.
Eric Dier had taken a couple of kicks in quick succession, but his quick thinking from a free-kick for the second saw a poor header give possession to Davies in the left wing position, pulling the ball back to Bergwijn on the penalty spot. He took a good touch to give himself space to shoot but fired it way over the top when in a really good position. Spurs had to be careful, as the chaotic way that Leeds attack brings rash interceptions and the ball can go anywhere, which they will try to capitalise from. A cross from Rafinha was headed out to Alioski, who from outside the left-hand corner of the penalty area volleyed at goal but the ball went off for a throw-in on the other side of the pitch.
Both Son and Kane were feeling knocks, restricting them closing down up front, so when Leeds worked the ball well to Harrison 20 yards out, he had a good opportunity to score, although his curled shot from the edge of the D flew over the bar, when he should have been making Lloris work. Bamford did, but hit an effort straight into Hugo’s midriff when Rafinha ran outside to the right to distract the Spurs defenders.
Leeds again tried to play the ball out again and Hojbjerg won the ball against Rodrigo, feeding it to Harry Kane who went off to his right. He knew where Son would be and the ball into the near post was tucked away inside Meslier’s near post from eight yards out. It was a great link-up between the two again, where they haven’t had much opportunity up until that point, but it gave Sonny his 100th goal for the club. Kane’s ball couldn’t have been better and Son’s run behind Ayling and ahead of Klich from being well on-side to get to the ball before them both was devastating.
Spurs were soon in the Leeds box again, with Ndombele jinking past his man to pull it back and although Ayling cut it out, the ball ran to Davies, who hit it on the run with the shot rising over the bar, but Tottenham were seizing on loose passing by Leeds, who were perhaps tiring already (I’m not on Twitter Leeds fans) and a better final Spurs pass on two occasions before half-time might have opened up a bigger gap between the sides before they turned around.
The first half hadn’t seen Spurs set up defensively, as evidenced by the chances Leeds had made, but they hadn’t taken them. Tottenham had been going forward and while they may have had fewer chances, they made the most of them.
It was another quick free-kick taken by Hojbjerg straight to Ndombele on the edge of the box that nearly caught Leeds out, as Tanguy drove a low shot at the keeper’s near post from the right of goal and Meslier managed to smuggle the ball around the post for a corner. Son played a fast ball into the near post and Toby got in ahead of Kalvin Phillips to head down and although the keeper got to the ball he couldn’t stop his dive carrying the ball over the line to make it 3-0 to Tottenham. Even if he had stopped it crossing the line, Harry Kane was on hand to put the ball away.
Kane tricked his way past a defender in the box to hit a shot into the side-netting when a better ball across the six-yard box might have found Son in front of goal, unmarked. The Leeds press had dropped off as they looked to re-group, but when Spurs played the ball up the left with Ndombele putting Son away, he looked to square the ball to Bergwijn when he was in good space and it was blocked, leaving the chance to go begging. As Leeds pushed forward, when the ball was turned over there was space in behind them and Ndombele almost put Son away, with Ayling just beating him to it, when he would have been through. Twice bad passing by Leeds gave Spurs chances, with Son feeding Bergwijn and Meslier had to come out to block his drive, then Winks picked off a pass and hit a shot at goal which went too high. Matt Doherty went into the book for not fouling Luke Ayling, with the referee interpreting his tackle as ‘reckless’. Leeds were swarming forward, but a final pass that went off for a goal-kick put a stop to that move and that was typical of their play on the day. You did feel that they might be leaving themselves open at the back though. When Hernandez gave the ball away to Hojbjerg it looked just that, as it was moved to Bergwijn who set up Kane on the right and the keeper saved at his near post to give away a corner. No goal for Spurs from it this time though !
At the other end, Hernandez set up Dallas, who got his shot all wrong and sliced it well wide, with it not even reaching the goal. The three changes that Bielsa made did alter the way Leeds were set up and they started to move forward, but the quick thinking of Harry Kane almost destroyed any comeback. A weak header inside the Spurs half presented him with the ball and Harry looked up, noted Meslier was way off his line and struck the ball at goal, with the keeper scurrying back only to see it go a foot or so over the bar !
Leeds were attacking, with two shots deflected wide and then Ayling shooting over from the left, with Jose Mourinho bringing on some fresh legs, with Sissoko replacing Harry Winks, who had a good game and then Tanguy Ndombele was disappointed to be taken off with Luca Moura coming on in his place. Ten minutes from time, Raphinha made some space in the box, but his shot was low and weak, allowing Hugo plenty of time to get his dive behind the ball. Spurs got in on the right with Doherty, who cut inside, then laid it into the path of Hojbjerg, whose shot was going wide before it was blocked. Bamford got his head to a Raphinha cross, but it lacked power and direction, dropping comfortably for Lloris. Hojbjerg joined the list of Spurs players in the book when he fouled Hernandez near the halfway line and then Kane was given a rest for Carlos Vinicius getting a run out, as Dallas got injured with the visitors having used all their subs. He came back on but was hobbling heavily.
The win put Tottenham third on goal difference, leaving Leeds to rue their tactics that were undone by their use of the ball and failure to convert their chances. Bielsa’s side are very fit, but their hurried passing allowed Tottenham to exploit the weaknesses in their formation. Defensively, they are open, but if they are to make the most of the way they approach games, they will need to be on target more often. Hugo didn’t really have too much of difficulty to do, while Meslier was called into action much more often. The stats showed that there were twice as many shots today as Tottenham recorded at Wolves and while it is pleasing to get the three points for the win, it is also good that it came from an attacking approach that helped keep the ball away from our own goal and helping the keeping of a clean sheet.
You could see how Bielsa’s tactics are effective against teams who can’t cope with the pressure on the ball, but sometimes it lacks discipline and they are like kids in a playground where they all chase the ball, leaving space elsewhere. Their passing accuracy undid their plans today and if it is the belief that this is the way to play, it is bold, but may be foolhardy. They have started the campaign very well and their matches feature lots of goals, so the media love them, but a more pragmatic approach might not bring as many plaudits, although it might accrue more points.
Spurs needed a game like this to re-set their confidence and the style that had taken them to the top of the league. That position might not be attained again for a while yet, but to stay thereabouts will give an opportunity to hit those heights again, as teams are dropping points unexpectedly. A consistent run could pay off in the long run.
Heung-Min Son scored his 100th goal for Tottenham.
Son was assisted by Harry Kane for his goal and it was the 13th time this season the two have helped each other for goals – a record equalling number for a Premier League season … with 21 games remaining.
Tanguy Ndombele made his 50th Spurs appearance.
|Everton||0||West Ham United London||1|
|Manchester United||2||Aston Villa||1|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Woolwich Wanderers||4|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||3||Wolverhampton Wanderers||3|
|Crystal Palace||2||Sheffield United||0|
|Frank Lampard’s Chelsea||1||Manchester City||3|
|South Coast Big Club||1||Liverpool||0|
|Newcastle United||1||Leicester City||2|
Premier League Table 2020-21
|6||South Coast Big Club||17||8||5||4||26||19||29||+7|
|9||Frank Lampard’s Chelsea||17||7||5||5||32||21||26||+11|
|10||West Ham United London||17||7||5||5||24||21||26||+3|
|17||Brighton & Hove Albion||17||2||8||7||21||28||14||-7|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||17||1||5||11||11||39||8||-28|