Following their surprise, yet comprehensive, home defeat at the hands of West Ham, Tottenham must address their attacking issues if they wish to realise their Champions League ambitions.
The Hammers’ 3-0 win at White Hart Lane was only the third time this season Andre Villas-Boas’ men haven’t been victorious, yet it’s ensured they go into the international hiatus behind all their main competitors in the battle to secure a top four berth, priced at 6/4 with Ladbrokes.
Their main quandary lies up front, with a team bereft of ideas where easily snuffed out by the pragmatics of West Ham, before being undone by set pieces and counter attacks in a textbook away performance from the Irons.
Replacing Gareth Bale’s goals was always going to be a major obstacle for the Lilywhites to overcome, yet after spending staggering amounts of money on improving their attacking arsenal, Spurs have looked woefully lacking in the final third this season.
Games with poor Crystal Palace and Swansea sides required spot kicks to settle them, while Arsenal and West Ham kept them at bay with relative ease.
Norwich are the only side in the Premier League who have given up more than two goals to the north Londoners in seven matches, which must come as a concern for all connected to the club.
Against the Irons one of their biggest problems going forward was that deploying Gylfi Sigurdsson, a player who naturally plays off the striker, from the left saw him too eager to drift infield whenever his side acquired possession.
This meant that Andros Townsend was the only wide outlet and, although he put in another great performance, he ended up being over-used as Spurs’ approach play quickly assimilated itself to the plot of a standard Will Smith movie – not a bad idea, but a lack of versatility points to the same ending every time.
Of the six starting in midfield and attack, only one – Christian Eriksen – could boast genuine guile. His five more advanced teammates were all direct players, none having the craft to unlock sides intent on sitting in as the Hammers were.
As Erik Lamela struggles to acclimatise to life in England, perhaps affording Lewis Holtby more game time at Sigurdsson’s expense would see the team create more against opponents determined to suffocate play when visiting the Lane.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date