After what seemed like a month-long international break, Spurs were back up and running in the Premier League to host struggling Bournemouth at Wembley on Saturday afternoon in a 3pm kickoff.
In what would usually be a fixture which would be a banker in every accumulator up and down the UK, Spurs’ form at Wembley in the league meant that nothing was being taken for granted and Pochettino went full strength with his squad selection, despite a trip to the Bernabeu in the Champions League looming on Tuesday.
Spurs starting XI;
Lloris, Trippier, Alderwiereld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Dier, Winks, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane
Bournemouth, who set up with a back 5, frustrated Spurs in the first half with repeated blocks and tackles which disrupted the flow of the game.
However, Eriksen settled Spurs’ nerves immediately after half time with a lovely left footed finish to put the home side 1-0 up. The Danish attacking midfielder is arguably one of the best attacking midfielders in world Football at the moment and is performing at an incredibly high level. If Liverpool are turning down offers of £100m for Coutinho, Daniel Levy must be licking his lips at the thought of how much Eriksen could go for, should Spurs ever decide to entertain offers from Europe’s elite for him.
With Spurs struggling against sides who are happy to put men behind the ball and frustrate Pochettino’s men at Wembley this year, with the Burnley game being the best example of this, Eddie Howe shunned the expansive style his Bournemouth style are known for and tried adopting the same approach, with it almost working, had it not been for Eriksen’s goal. Kane, fresh off of the back of a September in which he scored 13 goals in 10 games for club and country was expected to add to his growing goal tally this season and went close several times, forcing Bournemouth keeper Begovic into making several good saves.
A lot of eyes were also watching Harry Winks during the game, who won his first international cap for England in the 1-0 win over Lithuania during the International break. Winks, who was dubbed the “little Iniesta” by Pochettino due to a similar playing style to the Spanish Legend, was impressive again throughout the 90 minutes and kept the game ticking over in midfield, completing 94.5% of his 73 passes during the game.
Bournemouth had their chances during the game, with Spurs legend Jermain Defoe coming close in the closing minutes with a shot that forced Hugo Lloris into making a fine save to keep the score at 1-0. The back 3 system which Howe adopted ensured that the 3 centre halves kept Kane quiet, but meant that they struggled to assert any sort of posession-based dominance against Spurs, having only 27% of the ball during the game compared to Spurs 73%.
When asked for his thoughts on the game, boss Mauricio Pochettino said;
“The team played well. It was difficult to find the space. We had a lot of time on the ball but could not break down the opponent.
“In the second half we found better positions and moved the ball quickly, it was much better. We are always suffering if you don’t score the second goal. It was good, not great, but enough to win the three points.
“I am delighted we have won but it is impossible to stop you asking me about Wembley.”
Regardless of the performance, getting 3 points on the board at Wembley was crucial on Saturday. Previous results against Burnley and Swansea meant that we were relying on away wins to stay in the top 4/title chase, given the lack of confidence in securing wins at “home” so far this season. A scrappy 1-0 win is all it needed and that is exactly what was achieved.
With our next 3 Premier League home games being against Liverpool, Palace and West Brom, Saturday’s result meant that we can now head in to these fixtures without the added pressure of getting the first win on the players backs.
Spurs’ next game is away to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday 16th October, with the next league game being at home to Liverpool on Sunday 22nd October.