An early goal was cancelled out by a late equalizer as Spurs could only muster a point on the road against Wolves, 1-1.
Jose Mourinho opted for a 3-5-2 formation, putting both Ben Davies and Sergio Reguilon into the lineup as a means to stifle Wolves’ attack, specifically the dangerous Adama Traore out on the flank. Tanguy Ndombele started in midfield with Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Spurs got out of the blocks right away on a gorgeous through ball by Davies to find Heung-Min Son running past the Wolves defense. He earned a corner with the shot to set up a corner kick. Hojbjerg dummied the ball in and let it run completely through the penalty area after a poor clearance by Wolves. Davies made a simple tap back to a waiting Ndombele, who one-timed a low blast into the back of the net from 25 yards out. Just one minute into the match and Spurs were up 1-0.
The early goal didn’t deter Wolves from pushing forward as Spurs let them carry the ball deep into their territory multiple times, waiting for a counterattacking opportunity. Spurs got a chance to do just that in the 20th minute as Ndombele dribbled through the midfield a good 40 yards before feeding Sergio Reguilon. The shot was right at Rui Patricio, however, who made an easy save. Harry Kane had been available on the other side and one has to wonder if feeding him was the better option on the counter.
Wolves answered a few minutes later with a close call of their own, breaking down the Spurs defense with Nelson Semedo playing a dangerous ball to the near post. Fabio Silva got a yard of space and opted to blast the ball toward net. Hugo Lloris was left standing but Silva’s shot was just wide. The home side had another chance in the 40th minute after a deflected ball fell to Silva, who headed it down to Daniel Podence. The Portuguese attacker attempted a side volley but only found the midriff of Lloris.
No changes were made in the second half though VAR decided to check into the match just moments after the kick as Silva went over rather easily on an Eric Dier challenge. VAR confirmed no penalty before Wolves had a couple of corner attempts that ended with a good header by Neto snuffed out by Lloris.
After possession traded back and forth, Wolves had a opportunity in the 60th minute as Neto skinned both Harry Winks and Matt Doherty alive with some clever dribbling. His pass to Silva wasn’t great and resulted in Lloris getting a chance to cover the ball before Silva could get a decent shot off.
Mourinho freshened up the squad in the 63rd minute, bringing on Steven Bergwijn for Reguilon, moving Spurs to a back four again. After a couple of half chances for both sides and another sub, this time Moussa Sissoko coming in for Ndombele, Spurs kept pushing but couldn’t get that insurance goal as the match hit twenty minutes to go.
Spurs kept their defensive shape as Wolves opened up their attack, trying to push for the equalizer. It seemed to play right into Spurs’ hands as the attacks were disrupted enough to break their runs but not enough to get an opportunity on the counterattack. Mourinho made his final sub of the match in the 82nd minute, bringing Erik Lamela into the fray for Sonny. Wolves countered by bringing on Owen Otosawie for Joao Moutinho.
Ultimately, Spurs couldn’t hold onto their clean sheet. Wolves earned a corner in the 86th minute and worked a set piece to perfection, finding Romain Saiss on a flashing run near post after he lost Davies enough. Kane was just a quarter-second away from clearing it as well, but his effort was in vain as Saiss headed it home. With a few minutes left, the two sides were level and all three points still up for grabs.
Wolves had a big chance to win the match in the last minute of stoppage time as Ruben Neves crossed a ball into the penalty area and found Silva. The headed effort was not a good one as he could only glance it down into the ground, allowing Lloris to snatch it up. Spurs were gifted a late corner that resulted in no chance before the match came to an end.
Thoughts on the Match
- Let’s get the good out there first: Ndombele was excellent today for the 65+ minutes he was on the pitch.
- Hugo was right behind him, even with the conceded goal that he could do little about.
- That being said, this was brutal to watch after the opening minute. If you thought that second half was bad, you weren’t wrong. Spurs sat back, hoping for a counter opportunity. The results was just .03 xG.
- Stat of the match: Ndombele’s goal was the first league goal scored by someone not named Kane or Son in over a month when Lo Celso scored against Manchester City on November 21.
- The substitutes and how they were used make my head hurt. Winks was not good and on a yellow for much of the match. How he went 90 minutes is beyond me.
- This is getting tiresome, and the blame is at the feet of Mourinho. When his system works, we can complain about it being somewhat boring but at least it’s effective. Now? We’re toothless for much of the match and look like we have no way of attacking unless it’s on a counter.
- The point puts Spurs in fifth for the moment, but City have a match in hand and Aston Villa have two.
- Spurs get two days before they’re back at it against relegation-threatened Fulham.