Tottenham Hotspur have played good football this year. The team is undefeated in the Premier League since opening day and have failed to gain points in just three of their thirteen matches thus far. Not only that, but the team is genuinely interesting to follow. Spurs have an abundance of talented young players that have the potential to develop into a truly formidable side in both the long and near-term. That said, two of Tottenham's most influential cogs, center-back Toby Alderweireld and manager Mauricio Pochettino, aren't impressed with Spurs mentality in front of goal. First from the manager:
"We started the game very well. After 10 minutes we scored, we created two or three chances more and when you concede the chance to the opponent to get back into the game the way we did the dynamic changes. We lost our focus and after 10 minutes changed the game completely.
"This was our problem and we need to learn. We are young but if you are the best team on the pitch after 10 minutes and you believe you can win the game you need to win the game. We lost our focus."
For those who didn't get to see the match against Anderlecht, Spurs had three massive chances that should have been goals; two of which came within the first fifteen minutes of the match. Before Spurs first goal, Christian Eriksen found himself on an unchallenged breakaway, which he subsequently muffed. After the goal, Eriksen played a peach of a through ball to Erik Lamela who needed to either finish the shot off himself or lay it backwards to an oncoming Clinton N'Jie. If either of these chances are taken, they are probably match-winners for Tottenham. In the second half Harry Kane, all alone from about fifteen yards out, couldn't put his shot past Anderlecht's goalkeeper. Minutes later, Anderlecht scored to go up 2-1.
None of these blunders would be of much concern if they weren't happening regularly. Or, to a bigger point, if they weren't putting our 2015-16 season's expectations into question. The lack of finishing yesterday put us in a bad spot for the Europa League and our ineptitude in front of net has failed to maximize our admirable spell of positive football in the Premier League.
The loss against Anderlecht will force Spurs to, most likely, bring a full strength squad to Azerbaijan, just three days before we face Chelsea in the Premier League. Spurs are now third in the group, due to goals against, with Monaco a point ahead. Can Tottenham recover? Of course. But this loss robs fringe players of precious game experience and fatigues our core.
Further, we have dropped deserved points in the Premier League. Against Everton, Swansea, and Liverpool, the last three sides that we've drew against, we failed to capitalize when creating a greater number of quality chances. One can argue that the Swansea result was fair, but Spurs certainly had the better play against the two Liverpool clubs. If we nick a goal in two of those three matches we are sitting in fourth place, one point behind second, and seven points clear of both Chelsea and Liverpool. These missed opportunities add up and this trend needs to change. While it is still October, we are past the grace period for unyielding patience with our final product.
"It's a matter of form," Alderweireld said. "We have the players who can score a goal but it's about a little bit of belief. I think it will come. We create chances but in terms of scoring we're not at our best level so that's something we have to improve.
"If you take the lead and then have chances to make it 2-0 or 3-0, you have to take them because in Europe you don't get a lot of chances and that's the thing we're missing at the moment. If we had scored again at 1-0 up against Anderlecht, the game would have been over."
Toby is addressing yesterday's match, but his comments resonate with a multitude of Tottenham fixtures this season. Before the term began, it was the weak midfield that everyone was perseverating about. Yet two and half months in and Eric Dier has thrived in that defensive midfield role, with Mousa Dembélé proving to be a capable second option. More effective than anyone could have anticipated, our back line too has been fearsome for much of the campaign. Which leaves the attack. Spurs have been strong thus far and there isn't reason to believe that their play will suddenly fall apart. With that in mind, its time for the attack to start to pull their weight on this Tottenham team.