So solid Spurs
After all the Kloppmania died down and Liverpool left White Hart Lane with a point, did we learn anything new from the no score draw?
I'm not talking about the Anfield club by the way. Spurs also played on Saturday although judging by some of the coverage you'd never have guessed. Football tends to be wrapped up with so much hyperbole it can deflect the reality of the situation. Spurs have been ruined by Liverpool in recent seasons even though they've only managed to finish above us the single time. So what can we take from the game?
Jurgen Klopp had and immediate impact with his team pressing high and working at a frantic pace to close down. It made for an uncomfortable opening twenty minutes. With Mousa Dembele taking up one half of our centre-pairing alongside Dele Alli, we looked hassled and off pace in comparison. But that was more or less it from the away side until coming back strong in the latter stages. Once they ran out of steam we pretty much led the way in terms of chances crafted. An interesting contrast to how we can sometimes set up to compete, chasing every ball and player. It took a while but Mauricio Pochettino drilled us to a standard of fitness that allows us to keep going with our own pressing game. Klopp will seek equal levels of graft from his team. The big question is, will either coach have a definable Plan B?
Still unbeaten (league) since the opening day. Spurs might lack creativity and clinicality but there's no soft centre. We're a hard team to beat. There's an argument to be had that we actual let teams off the hook by not being ruthless enough. Depending on your general outlook, you might see these as major headaches or a stepping stone. I'm eternally philosophical and much like I didn't panic earlier in the season I refuse to do so now. The fact that players are trusted to come in and take responsibility speaks volumes about the confidence they have in their coach and vice versa.
Dembele was superb in the middle, out of nowhere, with Eric Dier suspended and Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb still out injured. If only he could display such majestic positional awarenesses every game, recycling with astute tidiness, and fulfilling the emergency role given to him by Poch. No textbook indecisiveness he's usually prone to when pushing into the final third.
Intent and product
We are physically and mentally robust. Disciplined. The nine games have allowed us to settle defensively and we've been adaptable in selection. Upfront is where we have shown intent but lack the final product. Credit to Simon Mignolet for several key saves from Harry Kane and the raw Clinton N'jie. There is nothing wrong with the build up play we produce but the concern is the lack of outlets where the vision is birthed from. It's still too often one dimensional. Son Heung-min's absence is hurting us and Kane is still snapping and not slotting.
When our missing players return an already tenacious side will be stronger for it. But we still need that cutting edge to avoid the occasional dropped points.