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Andros Townsend struggles in Tottenham's Europa League stalemate

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Another away game in the Europa League, another tepid, near boring performance from Spurs. Sadly, it is something Tottenham fans have almost come to expect.

The initial signs had been positive under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, and despite drawing 2-2 with Sunderland at the weekend, the way Tottenham dominated possession and created chances was encouraging.

However, it was back to form against Partizan Belgrade, with chances at a premium along with invention, ambition, and plain positive thinking.

Here are the player ratings for the away side...

Hugo Lloris - 6.5

Another clean sheet for the Frenchman, who was only really troubled once after Danko Lazovic capitalised on Federico Fazio's error and made the Spurs captain make a prompt stop.

Kyle Naughton - 6.0

A fairly solid, unspectacular performance from Naughton, which could be said about the majority of Tottenham's players on show. Defensively did not make an error, while he ventured forward on occasion without much joy.

Ben Davies - 6.0

Like Naughton, defensively the Welshman played alright and tried to offer width on the left without ever moving into dangerous areas. With Lennon cutting inside so much, Davies needed to get further forward but for whatever reason did not manage it.

Federico Fazio - 6.0

The Argentine looked good on his debut, comfortable on the ball and generally solid when facing the play. However, he was exposed when attackers ran down the channels and made a dreadful error to be caught under a long throw and present a chance to Lazovic barely four yards from goal. Used his experience to make sure he did not crumble after the error.

Jan Vertonghen - 6.5

It surprises many Spurs fans that Vertonghen is not an automatic first choice given the big Belgian's obvious talent, and he dealt with the Partizan attack with relative ease. Also strode out of defence on occassion but the midfield's lack of shape and direction meant his runs were not fully utilised.

Nabil Bentaleb - 6.0

Made one fantastic block challenge to prevent Partizan from scoring after Fazio's error, but too often played the ball backwards and really Tottenham only needed one player to do the job of Bentaleb and Stambouli. Needs to take more responsibility, either to release teammates to get forward or make offensive runs himself.

Benjamin Stambouli - 6.0

Despite danger of a repetitive strain injury, I will say Stambouli did well to keep Partizan out but offered very little to Tottenham on the front foot. Spurs really lack a real passer to inject tempo into their play and to exploit space with a switch of the play. Stambouli looks a good addition, but his midfield partner should offer more attacking input.

Aaron Lennon - 5.5

Some nice little touches and five-yard runs aside, Lennon was out of the game on the left side. Too far up the pitch for Davies to catch up and overlap, reluctant to run down the wing on his left foot and never likely to offer a goal threat (30 goals in 350 appearances) it is no surprise Pochettino was rumoured to be happy to sell him. What was surprising was seeing him play on the left despite it never working previously.

Paulinho - 5.5

The more you see of the Brazilian, the more you feel his time is running out at White Hart Lane. Perhaps he would thrive more in a clearer system, with more space to run into, but on this showing he neither has the goalscoring instincts nor the technical ability to operate behind the lone striker. There were a couple of worrying moments when he dropped deep alongside Stambouli and Bentaleb, offering another simple and square passer to Spurs' central midfield.

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Tottenham stall in Europa League opener

Andros Townsend - 5.0

Early on, Townsend looked like the Tottenham player most likely to create something, but his dribbles often went down a dead end, his shooting was poor and his passing was too often awry. Easily wound out by the Partizan theatrics, it was no surprise Pochettino subbed him given the England winger was on a booking. Was easily limited and frustrated.

Harry Kane - 5.5

Was ever so close from giving Tottenham a first-minute lead when his shot hit the bar, but after that he struggled to lead the line and looked a lot happier when Roberto Soldado came on and he could drop deeper to get on the ball.

Subs:

Erik Lamela (for Townsend, 59) - 6.0

Injected some much needed enthusiasm into Tottenham's second-half performance, the Argentine is the far more suited to Pochettino's system than Townsend or Lennon.

Roberto Soldado (for Paulinho, 60) - 6.0

Offered a little spriteness upfront.

Etienne Capoue (for Stambouli, 72) - 6.0

More of the same as Capoue came on for the injured Stambouli.

In summary: A very average performance.

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Tottenham Hotspur

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