Spurs must make sure other teams do not suss out how to stifle them in the wake of their latest Premier League slip ups.
The north Londoners lost 1-0 at West Ham and threw two points away at home to Arsenal in what could have been a crucial week in their title campaign.
Struggling to cope
Mauricio Pochettino admitted his side found it difficult to cope with West Ham's long ball game, and they were perhaps lucky to go in at the break just 1-0 down. Tottenham cannot afford to play like they did in the first half many more times this season if they are to win the league, but West Ham should be given credit for the way they set up to frustrate Spurs.
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Pochettino has been praised for creating such a notable style of play, but he must make sure it is not too predictable. Spurs depend on being stronger in the midfield than their opposition, but if other teams follow West Ham's suit, they may be able to stop the Lilywhites from playing.
Bilic's game plan
Slaven Bilic opted for three centre-backs to stifle Harry Kane, but more importantly instructed his men to press high up the pitch. Kevin Wimmer has not come up against that kind of pressure yet, even against Sergio Aguero, and was eventually substituted as he sat dangerously on a yellow card that Spurs could not afford to turn into a red with the Arsenal game coming up.
West Ham forced Spurs to lose possession so often that they did not have a single shot in the first half. Arsenal also forced Spurs into errors at the back as Spurs’ young side struggled to cope with the chance to go top of the table in March for the first time since 1964.
Are Tottenham predictable?
Fortunately for Spurs, they have got two of their toughest games out of the way. Even if Arsenal were weakened – particularly after going down to ten men – they raised their game in the final quarter. Now, with a trip to Aston Villa and a home tie against Bournemouth looming large, Spurs must ensure they do not become too predictable and allow two of the league’s relegation fodder to unhinge them.
Villa in particular may not have the stomach to press Spurs for 90 minutes, but after the week the Lilywhites have had, they might sense an opportunity to cause an upset.
Pochettino’s distinctive football must also leave room for adaptation. Tottenham will be seen as vulnerable in the coming weeks, but they must make sure they are mentally strong enough to play their usual game without being suffocated.
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