Football, eh? Bloody psychological.
This is a piece that merely would not have been fathomable simply under a month in the past after Everton trotted into N17 with their fancy new signings and inflicted a 1-0 defeat on a pitiful Tottenham side who lacked an identification out and in of possession.
But who would’ve thought it? That after enduring probably the most chaotic of September schedules which has seen them journey the sides of the continent amid eight games in 21 days, Jose Mourinho’s Lilywhites would genuinely emerge as title contenders.
Nevertheless, regardless of a stellar exhibiting towards Newcastle – which went unrewarded due to the egocentric Eric Dier being born with arms – and their secure development into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and Europa League group levels, it is, of course, their exceptional 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford which has sparked such debate.
There should not be any of this “well, if Anthony Martial…” baloney both – which, admittedly, there wasn’t too much of in MUTV’s, sorry, Sky Sports’ post-match coverage – because this was a result that was within the pipeline as quickly as Harry Maguire embarked on probably the most calamitous of defensive sequences which allowed Tanguy Ndombele to cancel out Bruno Fernandes’ spot-kick inside the opening 5 minutes.
Ultimately, that is a Spurs side unrecognisable from the pragmatic, structured unit that impressed – and failed to entertain – on the end of last season.
Now, they’re a relentless attacking outfit who can counter-attack with the pace and effectivity of Mourinho’s 2011/12 Real Madrid side which usurped that nice Barcelona side in Spain. Not solely that, but they now boast a multi-faceted attack which might create through a plethora of strategies.
The arrival of Sergio Reguilon from Real has altered the dynamic of this side, albeit one which was within the course of of switching before he signed. Nevertheless, the asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 outstanding in Spurs’ build-up last season is a factor of the past. The stagnant possession, the remoted stars, the over-reliance on Serge Aurier and transitions; they’re all distant recollections.
Mourinho’s change in tack has solely been delicate, thoughts, but it is long overdue. The 3-2-5 configuration in possession nonetheless remains but as an alternative of the left-back creating the back three, it is typically Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg which facilitates the development of both full-backs. Thus, not solely is Spurs’ capacity to keep central compactness and retain possession within the first and second phases left uncompromised, but they’ll also attack by way of both flanks while also sustaining presence between the traces.
They seem a much more unpredictable proposition going forward this time period, with credit score undoubtedly going to the ‘Special One’ and their work within the transfer market.
Ndombele’s renaissance, in the meantime, has also been – and shall be – key in 2020/21.
On Sunday, United – even 11-v-11 – had been overwhelmed in midfield by a balanced and coherent Spurs triumvirate. With the magnificent Hojbjerg’s depth, Moussa Sissoko’s power and skill to provide cowl in transition mixed with Ndombele’s technical supremacy, the guests dominated the center of the park – while the Premier League’s most interesting consistently looked to overload United’s pivot by making a mockery of Harry Maguire’s positioning and dropping between the traces amid one other Harlem Globetrotter-like show.
Harry Kane made Old Trafford look like a faculty playground such was his imperious nature, as his 2007 Tom Brady x Randy Moss-esque relationship with the irresistible Son Heung-min continued to bear fruit.
The South Korean’s been one other main beneficiary of the drifting away from asymmetry. After typically discovering himself remoted on the left flank due to his perform of sustaining the width within the previous system, the marauding nature of Reguilon means he now finds himself tucked infield the place he can rotate with Kane and consistently dart in behind opposition defences to devastating effect – see Son’s first on Sunday.
It’s not simply in possession the place Mourinho’s men have made stark enhancements, nevertheless, they’ve even rediscovered this phenomenon known as ‘pressing’.
It was such a staple of Mauricio Pochettino’s prime Lilywhites but in the course of the latter days of the Argentine’s reign and since Mourinho’s arrival, Spurs have lacked an identification out of possession, as an alternative reverting to merely sitting in a deep – albeit well-drilled – block in a bid to thwart the opposition under Poch’s successor.
Nevertheless, the distinction between their off the ball show towards Everton and United could not be starker.
They had been chic on Sunday and their third goal best exemplified their enhancements – with Kane choosing off an unconvincing Eric Bailly move on the sting of the United field before an ingenious Ndombele flick found Son who squared for Kane to finish.
Oh, and people attacking patterns Mourinho supposedly would not coach because he’s so outdated, how about you sceptics have a re-watch of goal number 5 while having a slice of humble pie. That’s the up, back and thru idea in all it is glory, with Serge Aurier – buoyed by Matt Doherty’s arrival – the beneficiary of a majestic first-time move from Busq–, sorry, Hojbjerg to get in behind the embarrassingly poor Paul Pogba and finish past David De Gea.
The scary factor is, although, there’s nonetheless Giovani Lo Celso and Gareth Bale to add into the side which ran throughout United on Sunday. At this point, it appears a mere bonus whether or not the Welshman’s nostalgic return ‘comes off’ or not.
Nevertheless, regardless of how good Spurs have been since Ndombele’s introduction away at Lokomotiv Plovdiv last month, the overly reactionary nature of fans – and ‘pundits’ – means dropped points or maybe even an underwhelming exhibiting towards West Ham of their next encounter and alterations concerning their season projections shall be aplenty.
But it is a entire selection of elements which has doubtlessly thrust Spurs into title competition, not simply the serial winner that is on the helm, his recent tactical ideas and the mightily proficient – and deep – squad at his disposal.
The 2020/21 season is unprecedented. With no fans, tight schedules, and so on, the Premier League has already churned out a entire number of unexpected outcomes… and we’ve not even suffered by way of the first international break but.
As Jamie Carragher identified, we’re in for a distinctive season with the potential of ‘one other Leicester’ seemingly potential.
Nevertheless, injuries – or lack thereof – will in the end outline simply how far Mourinho’s side go of their title tilt. But thanks to their very good summer time window, delicate and new-found tactical nuances mixed with frailties of rivals, there is no doubting that Tottenham have a probability to do the unthinkable in 2020/21.