Finally. We can get back to watching Spurs play actual football and not lose our minds about why we’re not spending £50m on Riyad Mahrez or why Daniel Levy is compromising all of the hard work Pochettino has put in over the past 2 years by not adequately replacing our first team players who leave the club for £50m.
Sorry, I digress.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Spurs kicked off their pre-season schedule with an impressive 4-2 win against Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain side in the Citrus Bowl, Orlando.
Pochettino went with a mixture of youth, with some regular starters and fringe players also picked in the first half, with youth prospects Kyle Walker-Peters and Cameron Carter-Vickers both getting the opportunity to impress in the back 4 for the first 45 minutes. It turned out to be a rough 45 mins for Walker-Peters, who was caught out of position a couple of times and in particular for PSG’s first goal, where he and most of the other Spurs defenders tried playing a high line which was exploited, leading to Rabiot breaking clear and slotting in Cavani to smash home from 10 yards.
The scores were levelled after 10 minutes when Christian Eriksen picked the ball up half way into the opposition area and smashed one into the top corner from 25 yards out in what was the pick of the goals.
Spurs then went 2-1 up after 17 minutes, with Eric Dier getting in the way of an attempted clearance from PSG Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp – the ball smashing him straight into Dier’s outstretched foot, resulting in the ball bouncing in to the unguarded goal.
Unfortunately, it was Walker-Peters who was caught out of position again for the second goal. With PSG keeping possession in the Spurs half, the ball was switched out to PSG’s left hand side. Walker-Peters, who was pushed high, left roughly a 10 yard gap in behind him and this was exposed, leaving Pastore to finish smartly.
With a raft of changes at half time, including Harry Kane, Toby Alderwiereld and Dele Alli taking to the field to play their first minutes of the summer, Spurs’ superiority showed. Alderwiereld made it 3-2 with a rasping long range effort which beat the PSG goalkeeper in what was a superb strike, and Kane smashed home a penalty in the dying minutes to round off an impressive victory against the side who are reportedly about to pay £195m for Barca forward Neymar.
Whilst pre-season games are all about fitness and tactical work, Pochettino admitted in his post-match interview that “winning is always a good habit” and that keeping the winning mentality and maintaining the momentum gained from the team’s incredible end to last season is very important.
As for performances? Well, like I keep saying, it is only pre-season, but the game underlined just how important it is that we strengthen in the right-back position this summer. Walker-Peters is undoubtedly a bright prospect and, given time, will become a solid player, but it is my view that he would get torn to shreds in the Premier League and Champions League, should he be given the chance this year. In the last few days, it has been reported that a deal to sign Hoffenheim’s 22-year-old German right-back Jeremy Toljan is very close, and could even be sealed by the end of this week. Toljan – a German under-21 international – was part of the hugely-impressive Hoffenheim side who finished 3rd in the Bundesliga last season and would provide competition to Kieran Trippier for the right-back slot this coming season.
Spurs (first half): Lloris (c), Walker-Peters, Carter-Vickers, Vertonghen, Davies, Dembele, Dier, Eriksen, Onomah, Nkoudou, Janssen.
Spurs (second half): Vorm, Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies, Dembele (Winks 60), Wanyama, Oakley-Boothe, Eriksen, Dele, Kane.
Goals: PSG – Cavani 6, Pastore 37; Spurs – Eriksen 11, Dier 18, Alderweireld 82, Kane 88 (penalty).
Spurs’ next fixture is against Roma at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Tuesday evening (1am UK time), followed by Manchester City in Nashville on Saturday, (11pm UK time). Both fixtures are part of the International Champions Cup.