The 5 minutes of magic that magnify Tottenham's endless frustrations

04 April 2021 08:00

From Hugo Lloris scooping the ball out of his net on 28 minutes, to Harry Kane rifling home his second goal of the game on 34 minutes, Tottenham Hotspur were playing like a top four team.

The travelling side constantly fed the ball into the feet of Tanguy Ndombele, and the Frenchman dodged tackles and charged forward with a burning drive to penetrate the backline.

Spurs' full-backs flew up and down the flanks, desperate to get into position to ping a cross into the box from an overlap, and Kane hovered in the danger zone, waiting for his moment to strike.

In those five and a bit minutes, Spurs found the back of the net on two occasions, the first with a stroke of fortune, and the second through some stunning buildup play. Kane was on the end of both chances, showing exactly why he is the best striker in the Premier League, and why he deserves to be playing in the Champions League on an annual basis.

The chemistry between Kane and Ndombele was glorious to witness, with the former Lyon midfielder relentlessly popping up in space to try and slide a clever ball through the defence and into the path of the hungry England captain.

The weight of the pass to assist Kane for the second was a thing of beauty, as was the striker's first touch and deadly finish.

He deserves better | STU FORSTER/Getty Images

For six minutes, Spurs played like a team capable of undoing the very best in the league. They demonstrated they can be adventurous, exciting and creative, and boasts connections between players which should be capable of blowing other teams away.

So why didn't we see that spirit after Kane found the net for the second time on Sunday afternoon?

Tottenham visibly retreated back into their shell after taking a 2-1 lead against Newcastle Untied, and returned to their previous tactic of attempting (and failing) to frustrate their opponents by inviting pressure and sitting deep.

Frankly, that is a criminal system to deploy against a team as vulnerable and low on confidence as the Magpies, and those tactics are even more bizarre when considering the personnel in Spurs' backline.

If you're looking to soak up pressure and frustrate opponents with a solid rearguard display, Davinson Sanchez is not the man you want at the heart of your backline. The Colombian centre-back has the potential to be a top defender, but the way Mourinho plays football merely exposes all of the flaws in his game.

And considering the lack of success this tactic has enjoyed over the course of the season, a more flexible manager would probably think about mixing it up a bit, particularly against one of the worst teams in the league.

So, if ever there was a day to explode out of the traps and kill a game inside half an hour, it was this one. Yet, at one point during the first half, Newcastle had managed 15 shots, and Spurs had only mustered four.

Another bitterly disappointing result | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

For once, Steve Bruce's men were good value for a Premier League point, and could argue that they were more deserving of all three. The hosts ended the game with 19 attempts on goal, while Mourinho's men combined to boast 11 shots.

The Magpies even reached an expected goals (xG, for you millennials) tally north of 4 - the third highest total of any team this season.

Tottenham were so bad, they made Bruce's Newcastle look like a good, fully-functioning and exciting football team - and there can be no more damning conclusion than that.

The frustrating truth is, that Spurs did have less shots on target, less shots off targets and less blocked shots than the fourth-worst team in the Premier League, and yet they still scored two well-worked goals.

Stifling a yawn, perhaps | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

That's because this team is packed with incredible attacking talent, and midfielders who love carving out chances and providing for one of the best strikers in world football. There is enough quality in this squad to comfortably finish in the top four, despite what Mourinho will tell you.

Right now, attack has to be the best form of defence for Tottenham, and if Mourinho is too ignorant to acknowledge that, then Daniel Levy must wonder what on earth he has let himself in for in north London.

Source: 90min