To say Tottenham's defence were weak, last season is being kind.
However, Toby Alderweireld has brought a much-needed solidity to the Spurs back line since his summer move from Atletico Madrid.
The Belgian centre-back pairing of Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, have conceded very few goals this season. The latter had been under serious pressure after being heavily scrutinised for his performances over the last two years.
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Although, this criticism is not a reflection on his attributes as a centre-back, but rather how over-exposed the 28-year-old has been. With the lack of positional discipline of Younes Kaboul and the understandable inexperience of Eric Dier, Vertonghen was often left to pick up the pieces.
This season he looks like a changed man. Reunited with Alderweireld, after playing together at Ajax, an equilibrium has been restored in the Tottenham defence. The understanding the Belgian pair possess has not only developed a security in pursuing the zonal marking system Mauricio Pochettino desires, but it has also had a wider impact on the team.
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Firstly, the protection in defence has reinvigorated Kyle Walker's confidence, giving him a freedom to attack and utilise his pace.
Secondly, the midfield is now free to play higher up the pitch. Anchored by Eric Dier in the centre of the field, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have less defensive commitments they need to fulfil. Despite a lack of goals, the football Tottenham have been playing is much more exciting and precise when compared to the arduous and painful style on show this time last year.
The higher line and width from the two full-backs is conducive to what Pochettino wants from his team. Far from the complete outfit, but Spurs are moving in the right direction.
With the youngest side in the league, Alderweireld, 26, brings a much-needed experience and composure to the team. Dier and Kevin Wimmer are both exciting young prospects and can look up to the Belgian, whose performances so far this season have been perfect examples of ball-playing defensive play.
Alderweireld looks like a top addition and his impact in the first nine games of the league are clear to see. If he can maintain this form, then Spurs will continue to be a tough side to beat.
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