Can Someone Track the Runner? Little Things Killing Tottenham
As if things were not bad enough with the individual errors being made by Tottenham defensively, Spurs found a way to compound their mistakes by not running with midfielders against West Ham. On both of the Hammer goals on Sunday afternoon, a Tottenham midfielder failed to run with a player, leaving the defense exposed and Spurs at a loss.
Spurs Stick their Arms Out
As if they are playing defense by extension, we see a lot of handing off of players by Tottenham defensively these days. As a player flashes instead of running with the player, someone sticks out their arm and yells as if magic is going to bring someone in to stop them. We got on Ben Davies for not tracking runners and midfielders doing it is even worse.
On the first goal, Heung-Min Son took some flack for not attacking the ball and closing down Jarrod Bowen and rightfully so. Frankly had Pierre Højbjerg been more worried about the play and less the referee and a foul not called he could have pressured too. Regardless, those were not the only breakdowns.
We have hammered Lloris for not claiming a ball three feet in front of the goal but it could have not even come to that had Lucas Moura ran with his man. Lucas Moura had responsibility for the midfielder that flashed down from outside the box toward the front post. Instead of running with the man and putting a defender between the ball and the attacker Moura stuck out his arm and called for help.
Well Eric Dier stepped up to provide that help and we saw the result was a pass between the two defenders to Antonio’s toe. Had Lucas Moura ran with the flashing attacker, Eric Dier could have stayed put and when Hugo Lloris yelled clear Dier could have easily done so. Instead, just as Lloris stepped the wrong way in going backwards, Dier stepped the wrong way in going left, when staying put would have worked.
Had Moura gone with the runner, Dier likely is in position, clearing the ball and we continue 0-0. Lucas did not run with the man and the result was the result. Sloppy play all around from Spurs, continuing how they started the match.
Tottenham Leader Letting them Down
Whether he is tired or maybe just not as good as we all though earlier in the year, Pierre Højbjerg continues to make mistakes. It was Matt Doherty not Højbjerg who turned the ball over on the second goal, not the Dane. However, Højbjerg’s inability to run with the midfielder cost Spurs the goal.
On the play, yes Doherty lost it, but it was three or even four passes before the long ball. The problem then was the long ball was not actually to Antonio or even Jesse Lingard, the long ball was to midfielder Pablo Fornals who had seen the space created by Matt Doherty playing high up the pitch and sprinted to take that space.
It is not so much that Fornals beat Højbjerg on the play, frankly Højbjerg really did not sprint to catch up with HIS man. The Dane seems to be regressing by the week, having gone from a ball-winning game reader to a reactionary, complainer who continues to make the mistakes that are costing Spurs points.
Pierre Højbjerg has been at fault for four goals in the last three matches
That is four goals in three matches the Dane has played a big part in conceding and based on what else we are seeing from him, that is unlikely to change anytime soon. While many see Oliver Skipp as the partner for Højbjerg, what he really brings is what Spurs do not have right now, a like-for-like replacement that can play so the Dane does not have too. At least that is the hope, because it is becoming more and more clear, Højbjerg needs help.
When two of the core players for José Mourinho are the ones making the mistakes it is not a good sign for the coach of the team. Moura simply lapsed his concentration. Clearly the runner going to the near post is more dangerous than whatever might be outside the box on the opposite side of the field as the ball.
With Højbjerg the issues are more troubling as he is finding new ways to cause problems each week, only they are for Tottenham and not the other team. For a guy known for doing all the little things right, seeing him consistently get them wrong just leaves one baffled.
Regardless of the reason, can someone please just run with their man, you might be surprised at the result.