Much of what happened this week at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Stamford Bridge was predictable. An impressive RB Leipzig side pressed and harassed the Spurs players. Despite running out of steam in the second half, Leipzig will take a precious away goal into the second leg, and deservedly so. Chelsea, meanwhile, were no great shakes, but scored two good goals as Tottenham once again struggled to maintain any real possession or create any meaningful chances yesterday.
The striker struggle
At the risk of being too simplistic, it seems basically impossible for Spurs to score without a recognised striker. There are many ways, over a number of transfer windows, that the situation could have been avoided. Given that has not happened, getting goals with a decimated frontline for the rest of the season is going to be a struggle.
Indeed, the only shots on target from Spurs that I can recall in both games were two excellent free kicks from Lo Celso against Leipzig and a chance from Lucas against Chelsea. It is hard to see how that problem is going to be corrected in the next weeks. Perhaps the likes of Lo Celso, Bergwijn and Lucas will be able to muster enough goals to eek Spurs over the line into next year’s Champions League, but that seems unlikely now we are four points behind Chelsea. Again.
Tottenham have skipper Hugo Lloris to thank for losing both games by a simple one-goal margin, particularly against Leipzig. Giovanni Lo Celso was a standout performer against Leipzig but poor against Chelsea and should have been sent off.
Generally, though, we’re starting to see what Lo Celso can offer on a regular basis since he signed a permanent deal. Like most of the squad, Bergwijn has had a frustrating week. However, there is clearly something there. He makes good runs behind defences but at the moment the final ball is barely coming to him. The arrival of Tanguy Ndombele and Eric Lamela significantly turned the tide in Tottenham’s favour against Leipzig, and Lamela was involved in the late goal against Chelsea too, but Ndombele totally failed to control the midfield in his second appearance of the week. He rather personifies Tottenham’s frustrations at the moment and must do far better on a far more regular basis.
In the brighter moments against Leipzig, you could see glimpses of how Tottenham might look next season. When Ndombele and Lo Celso were on the pitch together that night, alongside Harry Winks, the midfield looked impressive and capable of beating the press. In Bergwijn we have a winger with electric pace and an eye for goal. Gedson also clearly has natural ability but needs to find his role in the team. Young players like Tangaga, Skipp and the lesser-spotted Ryan Sessegnon are exciting prospects too. With a few reinforcements in the summer (A STRIKER) there is a really good squad there.
That’s for the future though. Unfortunately, what is there now unlikely to be enough for the rest of this season.
My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound
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