The 2015-16 Premier League season is over, and now it's time to review. Over the next days and weeks, Cartilage Free Captain will be rolling out season-ending reviews of all Spurs first team players, looking not only at what happened this past season, but also what may happen in the future. Today we turn to the newest Belgian International to join Tottenham Hotspur, center-half Toby Alderweireld.
Minutes Played: 3,420
Fouls Committed: 9
Strands of hair out of place during play: 0
What went right?
After conceding 53 goals in league play in the 2014/15 Premier League season, Spurs realized they needed to make moves in order to attain their goals for the 2015/16 season. Toby Alderweireld was made a part of those plans in the summer months to turn a defense that, at times, resembled a sieve.
After a somewhat messy situation involving Southampton and whether or not they had retained his rights, Alderweireld finally joined Spurs on an £11.5m transfer, and the benefits of the move started paying dividends almost immediately.
Joining fellow countryman Jan Vertonghen as the first choice pairing in front of Hugo Lloris, Toby showed that he was a big reason for Southampton's defensive success in the prior season. His ability to not only time tackles but to make the correct decisions on clearances, aerial duels, and keeping the defense together showed that he isn't just a great physical player, but an outstanding mental player.
Oh, and he scored a few key goals as well. You may remember this one early in the season against Manchester City:
Or maybe this picture perfect header against West Ham:
He also brought us level against Arsenal at home!
And he showed everyone how much he loves us after making it 2-0 against Manchester United. (We love you too, Toby!)
While these goals came at fairly critical times for Tottenham, we have to hammer home the point of just how good he was on the defensive front. In the Premier League season, according to ESPNFC.com, the Belgian committed just nine fouls over 38 matches.
Basically, Toby was so good at times that we had forgotten the last time he committed fouls, especially during this run of play:
Toby Alderweireld hasn't committed a single foul in exactly 600 minutes of Premier League action.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 19, 2016
Perfect timing. pic.twitter.com/Y1fBYP1Tbt
The real crazy part of this stat? This was mentioned after the 4-0 away win against Stoke City. He went on to not have a single foul in those last four matches, which I had to double check on a couple of different sites.
The last foul he committed in league play? The 30' mark against West Ham on March 2.
Doing the math, Toby went 960 minutes without committing a foul to close out the season. That's not just crazy; it's unbelievable.
Simply put, Toby had himself one heck of a campaign and he was rewarded by being named in the PFA Team of the Season as well as the Supporters' choice for POTY.
What went wrong?
Not a whole lot, but Toby did have a couple of mishaps that cost Tottenham a few points. For instance, let's dial back to the beginning of the season when Spurs were leading Stoke City at home, 2-0. Things were going well, but then this happened:
That was Toby's first foul committed in a Spurs kit. Unfortunately, it would be the catalyst for Stoke City as they would ultimately draw level and steal a point from Tottenham. He would also be at fault for losing Gary Cahill on a set piece at Stamford Bridge that, coincidentally enough, would be the same type of catalyst that lead to a 2-2 draw and ended Spurs' title chances. It also seemed to be a point where Spurs started to unravel down the stretch as they would go on to lose 2-1 to Southampton and then the match that shall not be mentioned.
Toby will have a hard time giving us an encore to his first season at White Hart Lane. His play is a huge reason as to why Spurs have qualified for the Champions League, and he'll be a regular choice for Tottenham instead of only seeing spot time as he did with Atletico Madrid back in 2013/14. You can bet he has something to prove in the biggest club competition in the world, and we can't wait to see just what he has in store for us in his second season.
Rating: 5 Chirpys
(Video credit to the following YouTube channels: Sportsjoint, Samuel Silitonga Jr., Soccer Skills, North East London, and BPL Goals)