Artur Boruc had a day to forget, but it overshadowed what was some terrific play as our Premier League clash finished Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs.
Midfield control was what this game was all about and after a shaky opening few minutes, we had this zone on lockdown. Artur Boruc couldn’t have caught a cold with a performance he’d soon like to forget and this overshadowed what was a dominant display of midfield power as the score ended up Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs at the Vitality Stadium.
The game panned out much as we expected it to in the Bournemouth vs Spurs preview. The Cherries were a threat from crosses, they were equally a threat to themselves from defensive errors, especially from their keepers, and they are falible to teams that run off their centre backs. All three of these key points raised in the preview were present on the six goals.
The game started off extremely open with a good tempo as both teams moved the ball quickly forward. This saw play transferred swiftly from back to front from either running with the ball or one touch passing.
Bournemouth are a crossing team and with barely a minute played they took the lead from doing just this. Both teams had tried to go quickly forward and a long kick downfield from Artur Boruc saw the ball taken down by Joshua King. This drew Eric Dier out of the middle and as King played it out to Charlie Daniels on the overlap, Erik Lamela was late getting back to cover him, allowing the cross to come in. Kyle Walker was also slow to help, leaving the Bournemouth man with three Spurs players in the vicinity, but no one challenging his cross.
The ball ended up going over everyone in the centre. With Danny Rose pinching in, he left himself far too much space to get out to Matt Ritchie. The Bournemouth wide man had time to bring the ball down and blaze in the opener past Hugo Lloris at his near post, 1-0.
The goal sent the Vitality Stadium in to raptures as they sensed another scalp to be had. However, this was about as good as was going to get for the Cherries.
Once Bournemouth had taken the lead, our power midfield then took over. This brought our left sided focus through Eriksen with Kane running beyond the centre backs in to play, all aided by some horrendous blunders from Artur Boruc.
Power midfield play
Our midfield trio of Eric Dier and Dele Alli at the base with Mousa Dembele as a number ten saw us take over and control this game. It was a trio I talked about us playing to overpower certain midfields on the By the Min Spurs podcast last week and I was intrigued to see just how well it would fare when rolled out for the first time here.
The three often came up against two Bournemouth midfielders as Joshua King was late dropping in and this saw them simply get overwhelmed by our strength, size and power. Our trio recaptured and regained the ball, frequently in the Bournemouth half, to tee-up attacks.
Dier, Alli and Dembele won possession back an astonishing 28 times through tackling, intercepting or hoovering up loose balls. It was impressive to watch such a controlling and imposing display as they often hemmed Bournemouth in.
Left-sided focus and runs in-behind
Our powerful midfield was winning he ball back, then often distributing it to the left side. Christian Eriksen drifting from this flank was the focus for their passes, as he was a nightmare for Bournemouth to contain. The Dane’s attentions were frequently the runs of Harry Kane in-behind the centre backs as we looked to target the lack of speed in this area.
The midfield ball recovery, plus the drifting Eriksen and Kane’s runs in-behind combined to get us back in the match.
The ball was sent long downfield, continuing with the tactic of getting it quickly from back to front. Harry Kane leaped with Steve Cook and Mousa Dembele swiped in to hoover up possession. Dembele moved it out to Eriksen on the left who then saw Harry Kane setting off to run in-behind the centre back.
Running off Bournemouth‘s centre backs was something we looked at in the Bournemouth vs Spurs preview. Even Kane’s speed was enough to see him get beyond his marker. What Artur Boruc was doing sliding out feet first only he will know.
Kane got up and passed the penalty shakily to the Keeper’s left, but sending Boruc the wrong way and we were back on level terms, 1-1.
One soon became two as the left side was the focus once more and so too was our powerful midfield trio. Both Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli hounded the Bournemouth player in possession, not only winning the ball back, but also gaining a free kick out on the left.
Usually Christian Eriksen will swing the ball in to the box from these wide positions, but his short free kick in to the path of Danny Rose caught Bournemouth by surprise. They raced towards Rose as he fired his shot, leaving several Spurs players unmarked. Rose’s shot cannoned off a defender and Mousa Dembele, as he did for much of the afternoon, gobbled up the loose ball. He was now clean through with the simple task of just having to pass the ball in to the wide-open net.
2-1 became 3-1 not long after. Mousa Dembele again recovered the ball and laid it off to Eric Dier out towards the left. As Dier stepped forward, Kane set off and the defensive midfielder found his run in-behind with a perfectly weighted through ball.
Kane ran off centre back Steve Cook and right back Simon Francis to get in a short-chipped cross.
This should’ve been simple for Boruc to take, but inexplicably he dropped the ball at the feet of Erik Lamela who had an easy tap in, 3-1.
With the left side being the focus for our first three goals, the trend continued after the interval. Our fourth saw Harry Kane running beyond the centre backs for a third time, as he stole off the ageing Sylvain Distin to flick home Christian Eriksen’s deftly weighted curled-in chip to make it 4-1.
There was no pressure on Eriksen when he picked up the ball, giving him time and space to deliver. Distin just couldn’t handle the speed of Kane’s run or Eriksen’s train of thought.
After four goals focussing on the left, three involving good ball recovery from our powerful midfield trio, the last goal came from attacking down the right.
Kyle Walker jetted forward and cushioned Eric Dier’s long ball down in to the path of Harry Kane for a shot. Artur Boruc pushed it wide for a corner, which saw us run one of our regular routines. The near edge of the six-yard box was left open for Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld to run towards to meet a low whipped-in ball by Christian Eriksen.
Alderweireld got to the ball first and sent a darting header straight at Boruc. In the midst of having a mare of a game, Boruc dropped another clanger. His palming down of the ball straight to the feet of Harry Kane for a tap in cemented his nightmare and Kane’s hat trick, Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs.
It wouldn’t get any better for the Bournemouth keeper. At 5-1 down he spilled an Eric Dier cross and then tripped Kane in what should’ve seen another penalty awarded. Earlier in the game at 3-1 he also whacked a back pass straight in to the pressing Mousa Dembele that could easily have rebounded in. Fortunately for him it didn’t, his one slice of luck on the day.
Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs overall
Artur Boruc had a complete nightmare, but his blunders masked what was a terrific performance of how to control and quash a home side buoyed by a vocal crowd.
The early Bournemouth goal made the way in which Dier, Alli and Dembele controlled the central zone even more impressive. Their distribution of the ball out for Eriksen to tantalise and destroy the Bournemouth defence from the left was calculated. Kane’s run’s in-behind the centre backs were expertly timed and topped off what was tactically a beautiful game to watch.
Final score: Bournemouth 1-5 Spurs.
What a performance! And King Harry is back! Hopefully he can continue his goal scoring run. Do you see us going with this power midfield and Eriksen at the left? It looks like our midfield players can be rotated into various setup. E.g Dembele as a DM, CM & AM .. Alli as CM & AM ..
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
I was talking about using these three (Dier, Alli and Dembele) like this on the BytheMin Spurs podcast episode 7 the other week against certain teams, especially those with good central midfield ball winning eg Yaya Toure, Fernandinho. I raised an eyebrow to see it rolled out here and wondered whether Poch went this way as Bournemouth can be light in central midfield as they play a two and use King to drop in and make a three and often he is slow to do this. Or, whether we are so light on wide forwards without Son and Chadli, plus N’Jie doesn’t look up to speed yet, that this was a solution to solve that problem with 3 games in quick succession coming up.
I don’t see it being a solution for every game, as we will often need creativity and goals from the number ten position, something Dembele doesn’t provide regularly enough like Eriksen. Dembele is incredibly strong at regaining and retaining the ball though, so it is a useful setup to have to either match teams toe-to-toe or overpower others that are weak in the centre, which Bournemouth are.
Completely agree with you about the rotation aspect and this is something Pochettino likes, from all his players. I would see Dier sitting most of the time, but the other two have the ability to fill in for him should he get caught out of position.
3421/4123/433/4231 did like how we changed formation with and without the ball. Dier and his abilty to do a Sammer and slot in as a third CB but also bring the ball out helps massively
there was one moment that Dembele showed a true moment of skill that made my jaw drop, and he is looking to play more forward passes. it still seems finding his true position for us still feels like a square peg…
Still think Eriksen is better in the #10 slot, but given the lack of Sonny and even the Dolphin, and the rawness of Clint, I am glad to see Poch try a different tack and try using Eriksen’s greater quality on the ball…Would like to see him drift in more to “split the deck” when the ball is on the RHS and thus make it easier for a cross to find Harry. We see Lamela does this task very well.
Really enjoyed this report and this game. Maybe Boruc IF he can catch this analysis will not feel so bad
ashley collie says
YouShubes: I had noted this to a friend also, good point about Eric: “Dier and his abilty to do a Sammer and slot in as a third CB but also bring the ball out helps massively.” I think it was our final game last season with Bentaleb as left FB/WB and it looked like we had 3 at the back at times, and I was wondering if MoPo would be trying that this season. And sure enough, at times, Dier does operate as a third CB with our Belgian duo (Toby has just sharpened up Jan’s game and attention) allowed to split out a little wider. It ain’t perfect yet, but as The Beatles sang: “It’s getting better all the time…”
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Haha I’m sure the only think he’s caught is plenty of ribbing from his team mates ;)
Yes, Dier’s ability to drop in or bring the ball out has really helped us and as said last week, for all Dembele did against Liverpool, and he was very good, we did miss this and it affected our ability to move up the pitch.
Eriksen should be used in the centre for certain games, especially ones where we have to defend the flanks better eg vs Southampton, or where we need creativity rather than brawn from the number ten position. It gives us another look and another dimension, which I like.
With the return to fitness of Mason and soon Sonny, I can see us shifting again.
This shifting of formations with and without the ball occurring during different types of possession i.e from the goalkeeper, or from forcing a turnover is still extremely player dependent and I hope we manage to avoid any long injuries.
Hate to say it but the West Ham game given their incredible run of form and relatively fit squad could be even more a litmus test for us than the NLD
ashley collie says
Excellent analysis, mate, great stuff. I posted this elsewhere, but will do so here, too: Flying a little under the radar, we have those above us, right where we want them! With Klopp, Moan-rinho, Rooney’s drought, Sherwood and Rodgers’ sackings, blah-blah, no one’s talking about us, and that’s good! At every juncture last season, when we had a shot of getting into top-4 for the day, we never did it, and you can see MoPo just itching for that to change. We may well have a couple of shots again this month…and getting there, may give us the confidence to stay there. With a little bit of luck and all those other intangibles. COYS!
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Thanks for reading Ashley, much appreciated. Completely agree, the Klopp-mania and Mourinho meltdown is drawing attention elsewhere which is great for us. The league is incredibly open right now and that will allow a team, or teams, outside the traditional top four to get in there this season. I’m incredibly optimistic if a Europa run doesn’t burn us out.
Hey, Mark, new Spurs fan over here on Left Coast/SoCal, wants to listen to a good Spurs Podcast, didn’t you recently appear on one. BTW, just Spurs, any suggestions?
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Hey Ashley, I appear on the BytheMin Spurs one most weeks. I’d also recommend Hotspur America who have some very good guests and some great knowledge. The Fighting Cock is another one, the biggest on this side of the pond and also has good guests. THere are a lot out there so it depends on what you like – analysis, stories or just banter. So just try listening to a few and see what appeals.
Great read, Mark.
Excellent game, as well ;) I think the West Ham-matches will be the key to 4th place.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
They are going surprisingly well, I had expected them to drop off by now!