A horrendous display at the vitality stadium saw us down to nine men and conceding at goal at the death as it ended Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham.
A high-energy start should’ve seen us ahead. Spurs had a defined strategy to push the ball in-behind the Bournemouth defence and then to quickly work the debutant goalkeeper. Two needless red cards followed and a Bournemouth team that was so dangerous on the counter attack didn’t know how to break down an opponent which then sat deep themselves. Two corners decided the match. Bournemouth scored one and the other saw a blatant penalty decision missed. The game ended Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham setting back Champions League qualification hopes.
Moura down the middle
Spurs opened the game with an intriguing formation. Mauricio Pochettino opted for a 4-2-3-1 setup, which had Son Heung-Min out on the left and Lucas Moura as the central striker. Dele Alli played off Moura as the number ten and looked to get forward alongside him at every opportunity.
The strategy from Spurs was simple. Get the ball in-behind the Bournemouth defence as quickly as possible and work debutant goalkeeper, Mark Travers.
Lucas Moura almost got the game off to a great start as he looked to lob Travers from the halfway line, signalling the intent to work the keeper.
Moura would then be the target for the passes in-behind. One saw him brilliantly bring down Rose’s long pass over the top. However, Moura had so much time and space that he delayed and then struck his shot against the legs of the onrushing keeper. Another saw him take Sissoko’s excellent long pass on the run, but his fierce drive was tipped over the bar.
Dele Alli was also getting in on the act as he also looked to break beyond the Bournemouth defence as well. His driven shot on the turn was well saved. Dele then got on the end of Rose’s cross, but saw his goal bound header tipped over.
Spurs were aided in their strategy by Bournemouth‘s makeshift central midfield of Nathan Ake and Jefferson Lerma. The pair were frequently caught on different wavelengths and found themselves overrun by the trio they were up against – Sissoko, Dier and Eriksen. Space was often available. Eriksen and Sissoko filled it well.
Red card capitulation
Spurs were hitting quick and meaningful attacks, but Bournemouth was a real threat on the counter attack. Eddie Howe’s side are a counter attack and cross team and they were highly dangerous on every opportunity to do that.
Howe interestingly went with Jordon Ibe alongside Callum Wilson up front in his 4-4-2 formation. Wilson’s usual strike partner, Josh King, was thrust out in to a wide left role. Presumably this was to use his speed to break in to the areas that the slower Kieran Trippier would leave.
The Eric Dier situation seemed to unsettle Spurs. The crowd were baying for a red card and referee Craig Pawson seemed to want to redress the situation. Minutes later, Son was given his marching orders for a shove following Jefferson Lerma’s stamp as he went to pick up the ball. Son was off and amazingly Lerma did the same to Danny Rose later in the match, which sparked a furious reaction from Rose but nothing from Pawson.
Mauricio’s half time changes
Down to ten men, Mauricio Pochettino made half time changes. Tightrope walking Eric Dier was removed, along with Toby Alderweireld who was also on a yellow card. Victor Wanyama and Juan Foyth came on for the pair. Wanyama in central midfield, Foyth at centre back.
Pochettino also went to an intriguing 4-2-2-1 setup. It was fascinating to see what was going to play out of this, but two minutes in to the half, Foyth lost his head and got his marching orders.
Foyth’s mazy, but looking out of control dribbling has been a feature of his recent play. He snakes through challenges, but never looks quite like the ball is under his full control. A run that started off so promisingly, finished with a lunge to regain a loose ball and straight red card.
Down to nine men, Pochettino went to a 4-3-1 set up. Lucas Moura was left up top on his own. Dele, Sissoko and Eriksen now sought to protect a back four that featured Victor Wanyama and Davinson Sanchez at the heart of it.
Bournemouth’s counter conundrum
Bournemouth’s counter attack had carried a huge threat throughout the first half. As Spurs were reduced to nine, they now had to come out and set the tempo of the game.
It was a strange place for Bournemouth to be in. The team’s crossing based attack continued, but their tempo dropped, as they had to set the pace of the game themselves. Without the usual room to run in, they became stifled, slow and lacked ideas.
Bournemouth’s crosses had been well dealt with by Victor Wanyama and Davinson Sanchez. However, corners had been a different proposition. Bournemouth are a good set piece side. Two corners had been scrambled away from within the Tottenham six-yard box, before a third found the net.
Bournemouth was able to carry a threat a set pieces, as Tottenham didn’t have the numbers to match up. One man always had to be left free and that was usually Jefferson Lerma.
The pivotal corner that decided the match saw Victor Wanyama loose touch with his marking assignment, Nathan Ake.
Bournemouth ran three players from the top of the penalty area in to the six-yard box. Ben Davies and Davinson Sanchez did a good job of ushering their marking assignments under the ball. Davies expertly so on the taller Steve Cook. However, in nudging Cook it meant that the Bournemouth man missed the ball and the arriving Ake could easily head home. Victor Wanyama had lost complete track of Ake. Wanyama resorted to shoving him in the back as he sought to rectify the situation.
Wanyama’s marking was the biggest culprit, but the positioning of Hugo Lloris was also called in to question. Lloris had been hammered as he got a glove to a previous corner and didn’t come for the cross.
From seemingly snatching a point, the score was now Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham.
A distraught Tottenham then gained a corner at the other end. As Christian Eriksen swung the ball in, Dele Alli was hauled to the floor, but nothing was forthcoming from Craig Pawson. The referee was completely unmoved by the whole situation and opted to instead blow his whistle for full time.
Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham overall
A solid start turned in to a horrendous performance. Inexcusable red cards for Foyth and Son were the downfall of what was a thoroughly unprofessional display.
The team often panicked when trying to recover the ball and was far too impetuous. Eric Dier was the embodiment of this, but too many others were at fault too. Players lunging in for unnecessary challenges or grabbing an opponent back, mainly due to fear of a Bournemouth counter attack.
It’s difficult to leave referee Craig Pawson out. Aside from the correct decision of two red cards, he had a real shocker of a game. Hot on the heals of Cardiff’s highly contentious loss to Chelsea, Pawson was once again in the spotlight here.
Mauricio Pochettino shouldn’t have a tough time raising spirits for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg. However, the loss of Son for next weekend’s pivotal game against Everton is the biggest blow.
Final score: Bournemouth 1-0 Tottenham.
MOTM: Mark Travers.