Vincent Kompany’s late strike in Wednesday night’s game made it goal number 31 which Tottenham have conceded in this year’s Barclays Premier League campaign; 11 of which were courtesy of Manuel Pellegrini’s table topping side.
There’s now increasing pessimism surrounding White Hart Lane as Tottenham fans begin to ponder whether their leaky defence will cost them a place in next season’s Champions League.
Despite playing more open and attractive football, and scoring more goals in the process, since Tim Sherwood has taken charge at Tottenham, they have conceded more goals per game than under previous manager Andre Villas-Boas.
In seven league games under Sherwood, Spurs have conceded 10 goals, meaning they have conceded 1.42 goals a game.
Comparatively, under AVB, their defence was breached 21 times in 16 games, averaging out at 1.31 goals conceded per game. In fact, Tottenham have the worst goal difference (-1) from any team in the top nine.
14th-placed Crystal Palace have conceded the same amount of goals at Spurs this season. Hull City, who are currently 13th in the table, have conceded two goals less than Tottenham's 31 this season.
One of the key reasons Tottenham have had defensive worries lately has been the absence of Belgium international Jan Vertonghen.
He last featured for Spurs in their 2-1 victory away at Fulham on December 4; since then, Tottenham have gone on to keep just two clean sheets in almost two months. With him, Tottenham look hard to break down, he adds class to their game and isn’t afraid to push forward. Without him, Spurs just aren’t the same team.
Hugo Lloris has recently hinted that he may be open to a summer switch if Spurs fail to finish in the top four this season. This would be a huge blow to them. Even though the Frenchman has looked vulnerable this season (most notably 14 seconds into Tottenham’s game at the Etihad last November) he is one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe.
Vlad Chiriches, along with Christian Eriksen and Paulinho, is the only one of Tottenham’s seven summer signings to actually improve the team. There’s no doubt that Lloris and Chiriches are an integral part of Tottenham’s future.
There’s still talk that Michael Dawson could yet sneak a place on the plane to Rio as part of Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad, but personally I can’t see why; he’s too slow. Not many defenders in the Premier League or Europe for that matter can handle Sergio Aguero when he’s in form, but Dawson is beaten too easily by any striker who is even remotely athletic.
Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney both scored two goals each at White Hart Lane last December and Dawson couldn’t handle either one. If Tottenham are in the Champions League next season, the thought of Dawson coming up against players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Radamel Falcao or Diego Costa for example is a truly frightening thought.
There’s no doubt that Dawson is one of the greatest professionals in Tottenham’s recent history, but in order to take the next step forward, they must let him go. If they were to put Dawson on the market today, there wouldn’t be too many top teams pushing for his signature.
I’m not entirely convinced by Tottenham’s full-backs either. Kyle Walker isn't the same player as he was three years ago when he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. He, like Danny Rose, are more effective when going forward, linking up well with the likes of Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.
However, there are still question marks about the pair defensively. Walker is often caught out of position, but because he is so quick to get back, it goes unnoticed. He is also beaten too easily, too often. Rose on the other hand needs to improve his awareness of what’s around him.
Sergio Aguero’s goal in Wednesday's match could have been avoided if Danny Rose stepped-up with the rest of his defence and played the offside trap. Instead, he was too slow to react and Aguero put City into a well-deserved lead.
Tim Sherwood will be keen to keep two of Tottenham’s most promising starlets especially considering they’re English. Both men are now 23 so still have time to improve their game. But if they want to be considered first choice for both Tottenham and England, then they need to improve fast.
One worrying element for Tottenham fans would be the fact that since Sherwood has taken over, Tottenham have had a relatively settled back five: Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Vlad Chiriches and Danny Rose have all started their last four games in all competitions.
The only clean sheet in that period was against Crystal Palace, where if it wasn't for one of the worst penalties of all time, Spurs would have conceded in every game in 2014. With their new brand of attacking football, they are much more vulnerable at the back.
Walker and Rose push forward leaving acres of space in the defensive third. The opposition are able to hit Spurs on the counter attack to good effect. Dawson doesn't have the pace to keep up with the majority of the league's attackers.
With less than half a day in this current transfer window, any activity looks unlikely. But if Tottenham don't tighten up defensively, they may need to look into the market this summer. Under Sherwood they are now scoring the goals to fire them into the top four but they need to improve defensively before it is too late.
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