Hull 1 Spurs 2: lost then won between the lines

A topsy-turvy game that flipped on a bizarre sending off saw us snatch a dramatic late winner, as our Premier League clash finished Hull 1 Spurs 2.

Our third away win of the season arrived as the other two before had done, as a late strike snatched all three Premier League points. After Eric Dier came up trumps on opening day and Harry Kane’s free-kick winner against Aston Villa, this time it was Christian Eriksen’s turn to provide the heroics.

The match seemed to be heading away from us until Gaston Ramirez was involved in a rather bizarre and soft sending off that swung the momentum of the game. Prior to that, Hull had controlled the first half, taking advantage of our rather disjointed side.

Hull between the lines

When the team sheets were announced, the major talking point was that ours didn’t contain a defensive midfielder. Both Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Stambouli were left out of the starting XI and Mousa Dembele was tasked of playing at the base of our midfield.

Dembele is strong and likes to dribble with the ball, but he always looks more comfortable when he has a proper holding player alongside him. In the opening 20 minutes Hull really took advantage of this. They were immediately on Dembele to capitalise on him wanting time on the ball, as they looked to strip him of it and break.

Positionally Dembele is not a holding player. However, when combined with the more attack-minded Ryan Mason, the space between our lines of defence and midfield was left extremely open. Hull players and runners in to this space were not picked up and they could’ve been two or three up and out of sight by half time.

It started with Hull’s opening goal, as a cross from the Ahmed Elmohamady was only partially cleared. Jake Livermore raced forward in to the huge vacant space where one of Mason or Dembele should’ve been, but the gap between the two was massive. Dembele was more at fault, stationing himself in the backline, as Livermore drove his shot in to the corner of the net.


Livermore gets in to the space to score.

If that was a warning, we didn’t heed it. Minutes later and Hull were in again. Robbie Brady fired over, as he was the one to run in to the space between the lines and off the back of Dembele this time.


Brady runs off Dembele.

Next it was Hatem Ben Arfa’s turn to arrive unmarked in this space. Hugo Lloris palmed Gaston Ramirez’s shot out, but Ben Arfa could only blaze over when it looked easier to score.


Ben Arfa free but blazes over.

Hull should’ve put the game to bed, but were not taking full advantage of our disjointed formation.

Spurs’ disjointed formation

There was something Tim Sherwood-esque of going without a defensive midfielder. Last season’s interim coach had famously expressed his love of box-to-box players in the centre of the park rather than having a more defensively focussed player.

Just as his team had been exposed by the better sides that could get between the lines – Chelsea, Man City – it was noteworthy how Hull were doing the same here.

But it wasn’t just going without a defensive midfielder; the whole formation was very disjointed.

We started out in a 4-2-3-1 with Harry Kane as a second striker from the number ten position. However, it was designed to be fluid as Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela floated across the pitch switching places. Kane and Soldado also changed roles, as did Mason and Dembele. Maybe there was too much changing, as the whole system seemed to not be functioning as fluidly as it should have. At times we looked in a 4-3-3 and others a 4-4-1-1, but often we had too many players centrally.

As a result we rarely created in the first 45. Christian Eriksen managed to get in-between the Hull lines of defence and midfield as he set up a shot for Erik Lamela.


Eriksen loose between the lines sets up Lamela.

At the end of the half, he fizzed a ball across the penalty area that missed everyone as Soldado was caught on his heels.

Half time and early switches

With us being so narrow Mauricio Pochettino made two good changes. One at the interval and one just after Gaston Ramirez received his marching orders.

Both substitutions introduced width to the right hand side and allowed us to start to open Hull up.

Vlad Chiriches came on for Eric Dier and was much more attack-minded to get up the right flank.

Aaron Lennon came on for Moussa Dembele just after Hull were reduced to ten men and played as an orthodox winger. As Lennon came on he signalled to Eriksen and Mason to play as a midfield two as we went to a 4-4-2 system.

The changes, combined with Hull retreating and trying to play narrow, saw us create two good opportunities from the right.

Vlad Chiriches fizzed in a beautiful low cross along the ground that Roberto Soldado should’ve finished. The Spaniard saw his scuffed shot role agonisingly the wrong side of the post.

Then Lennon got free to whip in a delicious ball for Harry Kane who could only nod it past the post from close range.

In the first half, many of our opportunities came through the inside channels with us being so narrow.


Hull 1 Spurs 2: chances created, 1st half.

After the interval, we were now getting behind the full backs to generate opportunities from wide areas. An area the Tigers can be exposed in that we looked at in the Hull vs Spurs tactical preview.


Hull 1 Spurs 2: chances created 2nd half.

Ryan Mason’s curled cross that saw Soldado knick the ball wide with his off foot was another chance missed.

Central free kicks

Despite creating from wide areas, our equaliser arrived from a free kick in the centre. Throughout the game, but more so after Hull went down to ten men, we were getting players between their lines of defence and midfield and then getting fouled.


Hull 1 Spurs 2: Tottenham free kicks.

Tom Huddlestone committed several of these offences as his lack of speed was exposed. In the first half he was lucky not to be booked as our players surrounded the referee complaining it was his third such foul. Harry Kane could only put the resulting free kick in to the Hull wall.

The pattern was there though and our free kick equaliser arrived after we again got players between the lines.

Both Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado pulled in to this space. Erik Lamela passed the ball first to Kane; got it back; then to Soldado, who was fouled trying to spin Curtis Davies.


Lamela finds Kane and then Soldado between the lines.

Christian Eriksen hit a wicked dead ball that was clawed on to the post, deflecting back off goalkeeper Allan McGregor’s head and then gobbled up by Harry Kane.

Christian Eriksen between the lines

Having scored from a free kick after we got two players between the lines, it was apt that Christian Eriksen would get open in this space to score the winner.

The Dane had become the central force in the game after a somewhat subdued first half. He wasn’t helped by the formation whereby he was drifting from the left. He worked across the pitch, but rarely influenced in the opening 45, except for his pass for Lamela’s shot and ball across the goal.


Christian Eriksen passes received 1st half.

After the switch of formation and being positioned in the centre of a midfield four, Eriksen ran the show in the second half as he drifted in-between the lines.


Christian Eriksen passes received 2nd half.

He was in this space as Harry Kane took control of the ball on the edge of the Hull box, with Vlad Chiriches once again free on the right.


Eriksen loose between the lines.

Instead of playing Vlad in, Kane twisted and found Eriksen completely free with time to take a touch, turn and fire.


Eriksen exploits the space.

Joyous scenes broke out as the whole side raced to bundle Eriksen by the corner flag in front of the hoards of away fans, just as the team had done at Villa Park.

Hull 1 Spurs 2 overall

It was a really tough performance to judge given that we were very average before Gaston Ramirez’s crazy red card.

Mauricio Pochettino “didn’t think it had a big impact” and that he was “sure that at the end it would have been the same result.”

If this was his view, he was being very economical with the truth. Our side was very disjointed, narrow and lacking in structure before the dismissal.

The change to bring on Chiriches was a good move. Given the earliness of Ramirez’s sending off, it was hard to tell just how much of an impact it would have made. It was also difficult to tell if he would have still brought Dembele off if it had remained at 11v11, as Hull were exposing our lack of a defensive midfielder.

The switch to bring Lennon for Dembele was another good one given how narrow we were, but would Pochettino still have made it if both sides were at even strength?

Chances were made with the increased width, but the game was won by getting between the lines. Firstly to win a free kick, which Hull conceded too many of in central areas. Secondly by Eriksen to fire home the winner.

Hopefully this will give the players a real confidence boost ahead of Partizan on Thursday and an extremely tough match with Everton next Sunday.

Final score: Hull 1 Spurs 2.

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15 Responses to Hull 1 Spurs 2: lost then won between the lines

  1. YouShubes 24th November 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    As good as Luka and VDV were for us they needed Lennon and Bale to stretch the pitch, attack the full back and put in a crosses from either side.

    Neither Rose/Dier/Walker/Naughton/Davies attack their fullbacks enough nor do they put in ENOUGH crosses of sufficient quality to trouble the opposing CBs or goalie.

    Our wing forwards do not the support the striker well enough either.

    The problem with complicated tactics is while they work in theory each link in the chain must do its role otherwise it just does not work.

    We did let the gaffer down by not supplying him the Sammer/Pirlo hybrid that to make such a system work. Sandro’s lack of passing was mitigated by Luka’s “abundance” of passing ability

    Ryan Mason has shown a willingness to pass, as well as shoot and tackle. Kind of like Jenas once every 4 games, but he is still only 23 and very raw.

    My point is that the manager needs to adapt his tactics as he clearly does not have the players to make the way he wants to play work.

    And I think one way of getting his tactics to work would be to play as much of the same XI as possible so at least the players can build a rhythm and an understanding. Squad rotate as the season goes on but when you make such massive changes be it 7 new players or a different boss, you need to ensure as much as continuity wherever possible elsewhere.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th November 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Some very good points YouShube. Playing as many of the same team as possible for continuity is a good tactic. There are a few too many changes at the minute, also maybe too much youth. Yesterday we had Dier, Mason, Kane and Davies all in the same side and we lacked experience when Hull were in the ascendency, until Ramirez was sent off.

  2. john williams 24th November 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Great observations. You obviously see more than most what was going on and why.

    We were absolutly awful in the first half. It looked just like the Stoke and Villa games. Vlad looked great going forward but error prone defensively due to overdoing it. We didn’t make enough use of Lennon on the right. He and Vlad could have cut them to pieces if used in combo.

    I was really disappointed that Dembele didn’t do better but maybe that was down to confusing roles in the midfield. As for Soldado I hurt for the fact he can’t deliver as I much prefer his play and attitude to Ade’s normal game. Then there’s Paulinho who was absolutely inept. i was never a fan of his in the first place because of his poor tackling and shooting but it seems that all he wants to do now is get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. We have to sell him asap before he gives the game up altogether.
    Overall I thought fazio and Jan did better than previous combos but we desperately need some more pace, power and passion in the side. How about getting a couple from Crystal Palace such as Yannick Bolassi or Jedinak?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th November 2014 at 9:28 am #

      Great comment John. I Like Bolasie in just that he reminds of a young Faustino Asprilla, without the goalscoring touch. Whether he’d be right for Spurs, i’m not sure, but he would bring pace and energy. Jedinak is a perfect player for Palace in what he does for the team, but wouldn’t be technical enough for our midfield. He would bring a lot of passion and strength though, something we’ve been lacking.

  3. Yaniv 24th November 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I think the one thing you didn’t talk about is the lack of familiarity in defence.
    So far Kaboul, Rose and Capoue started every game in PL, with all 3 out the players in defence just didn’t know each other and don’t have great understanding yet.
    With Dier unfamiliar in RB and Fazio still getting used to EPL, I thought much of our defensive trouble was because of that.

    Personally I think the changes were great.
    Kaboul has been absoutely awful this year (Arsenal game aside) and somehow I’m much calmer when he’s not playing. Vertonghen should start every game, Fazio/Dier/Chichires to fight for second CB spot.
    Rose is a headless chicken, sure he’s quick and goes up but he’s just too irresponsible and plain unintelligent to play in defense. Lost count on how many goals we conceded because of him. He reminds me of Glen Johnson at his worst. We gave up Siggy for Davies – time to give the welshman a chance.

    As for the midfield, I can’t see why a Dembele-Mason combination can’t work.
    Capoue is a destroyer, a decent one (surely he’s no Makalele… actually Sandro at his best was much better) but he’s pretty much useless on the ball. How many top teams actually play with a destroyer these days? Even guys like Matic are really decent on the ball. We need someone who can actually find a decent pass sometimes and not just defend.

    The second half with Eriksen&Mason at CM were our best this season, because we had two intelligent, technical midfielders, suddenly our possesion was a lot more inspired, dynamic, we created chances.
    This is in total contrast to the dark days of Capoue&Bentaleb (thank god he’s injured), two completely uninspirng players who showed absolutely no creativity.
    If you want to play a possesion game you need CMs and CDMs who are creative. Fabregas, Toure, Kroos/Modric, Busquets, Alonso, Pirlo/Marchisio, all great passers. Sure we don’t have players of that calibre, but it just goes to show that to play great football you need CREATIVE CMs and not just destoyers.
    I think Capoue should be dropped completely, unless it’s a tough away game where we are intentionally playing on the counter.

    Now that’s a controversial one – I was also relived to see Chadli out of the lineup.
    Sure, he’s scoring goals – he got good positioning and finishing, but what else does he brings? He’s not creative, can’t beat his man, not too intelligent, always seems to slow up play. He rarely does anything good with the ball – unless he gets it in a goalscoring position. He’s like a wide poacher.
    I think in the long term, it would be better to give up his goals in order to find someone more intelligent and creative who’ll make our overall play better – resulting in more goals.
    With the likes of Capoue, Chadli and Adebayor passing the ball around, no wonder we can’t score. We need more of the Eriksen, Lamela and Mason types.

    • Sam Abe 24th November 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      Shocking analysis, Yaniv. Go straight to bed – no din-dins for you tonight.

      • Yaniv 24th November 2014 at 8:21 pm #

        I’d love to hear which parts you didn’t agree with, and why.
        Do you think Kaboul has been good this year – or anytime since his injuries? Do you think Rose is anywhere near an intelligent and responsible defender? That Capoue is a brilliant playmaker?

        It’s probably the Chadli comment that most people won’t agree with, but that’s how I feel. Try to look beyond the scoresheet. Chadli, even at his best, does not feel good enough for me. He is simply a very limited, predictable player who doesn’t do much in possesion. When you look at players like Eriksen and Lamela, even at their bad performances (like Lamela yesterday) they still try intersting things, find good passes, take on their players, make good movement. Chadli can position himself in the box and finish – but when he gets the ball anywhere else, he is useless.
        Maybe he can convert to a striker? can’t be worse than Adebayor…

  4. Sam Abrahams 24th November 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    I would emphatically agree with you that Kaboul has been dreadful. Almost unbelievably bad.

    But I think that Rose criticism is very 2013. He’s a decent player, and Davies hasn’t done enough to force his place into the side.

    Capoue looks good when playing well. Yes his passing is limited, but that’s not to say poor. In fact, I think his drop in form hasn’t been because of his passing, but because he seems to have lost the will to defend! A bit like Dembele yesterday, who was either ball watching or woefully out of position when we were defending deep.

    Yes we looked much better with Eriksen and Mason in the centre yesterday – but that was once we were up against zero pressure from a Hull side down to 10 men. I think we have to worry what a decent midfield would do against just the two of them. This is one our major issues of course – a serious lack of strength in midfield and protection for the back two – who I agree, are generally awful.

    But that’s not to say Vertonghen is the answer. He’s been as culpable as anybody and his errors have generally been punished very heavily. This is another one of our major issues – there are no obvious solutions.

    As for Chadli, I agree he can be a very episodic contributor, but how could we consider dropping our top scorer when we are so dismal in front of goal? Also, some of his crossing is excellent – but sadly our strikers’ ability to get into good positions or turn in crosses is not.

    Ah, and one more thing. Any suggestion that Lamela is the answer entirely ignores all the evidence to date. I too hope that he will one day prove his worth, but his blinkered, over-elaborate, inefficient performances suggest to me that his inclusion in the starting eleven is due to pressure from the boardroom.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th November 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Some very good points you both raise. I think Rose has come on leaps and bounds since last season, but does need to improve his final pass or cross. Defensively he is stretched due to Chadli’s role to cut in-field, but his positioning is improving.

      I agree about the changing in defence Yaniv and actually going with a settled back four would be good for consistency. The problem has been injuries and Kyle Naughton continually being suspended. Kaboul does need a rest, but I don’t think he’s ever been the same since returning.

      In midfield, as Sam points out Mason and Eriksen played against 10 men and we monopolised the ball, that just won’t happen against other teams and definitely will not against the better teams. Both are undersized and not strong enough to mix it in here on their own. Dembele I’ve always felt needs to be in there with a holding player, his partnership with Sandro was immense. Sandro was big, strong, physical and could win the tackles, leaving Dembele to clean up anything else, but also go further forward where his dribbling can be more effective.

      Chadli has contributed goals, but he does also create a few chances too. I actually think he is better away from home where he has more space to run in to, as teams sit back at the Lane which restricts his influence. Maybe the only time I’d rest would be for a home game against a team that sits back, but he has to play at the minute for me.

    • Yaniv 26th November 2014 at 7:10 am #

      I’m not actually suggesting to start with Mason-Eriksen in midfield – just that the CM pairing needs to be more creative. If only we still had Holtby…
      Anyway I think Mason/Dembele or Mason/Paulinho should work.

      Vertonghen, obviously he wasn’t great this year, none of our CBs were. But the difference is, he’s already shown he can be a world class CB – he just needs to find his form. Kaboul has been consistently bad since the injury (How the hell is he still starting?) while Fazio, Dier and Chichires are not proven in EPL like Vertonghen.
      I believe if we’ll give him playing time, he’ll go back to the monster he was in 12/13.

      Rose still strikes me as a worse Glen Johnson. Gets up a lot but rarely does anything good in attack. Makes way too many mistakes in defense.

      As for Chadli, sometimes you need to see beyond goals. Look at Chicharito – he’s scored lots of goals, yet Ferguson even preferred the goal-shy Welbeck to him. That’s because the mexican is a very limited player, unless he’s in a goalscoring position.
      That’s Chadli, the number of times he recives the ball in the flank and can’t do anything good with it is staggering. Ultimately we’ll be playing better, more fluid football without him, and we’ll score more.

      Lamela, still not what he should be but you can see the talent is there. Unlike Chadli.

  5. Brian himself 24th November 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    It looked more like a team to me than it ever has this year and got better as the game progressed and people got used to each other.
    I don’t understand the infatuation with Mason – I think Paulinho would have been a better starter. Nonetheless, I am greatly encouraged by the improved team and their play together.
    I hope Poch will still give Soldado a few more chances. He may yet contribute more.
    I also hope it is now “over” for Ade.

    • Yaniv 25th November 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Paulinho is a sad causality, I’ll never understand why he wasn’t given more of a chance. A starter for the Brazil national team in world cup – can’t even get on the bench for Spurs?? not to mention that his replacements (Capoue, Bentaleb, aren’t exactly world class).

      We already lost 2 of my favorite players, Holtby and Sandro, because of Poch, and Paulinho is set to be next. I just hope that Vertonghen isn’t going to be added to this list – that would be unforgiveable. For who, for the god-awful Kaboul??

      BTW Holtby could have been great in the Mason role. Creative CM that’s also a decent tackler and got good long shots.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th November 2014 at 9:52 am #

        I agree about Holtby. He was very good in pre-season and i think his energy, passion and most of all his ability to pass a ball vertically up the pitch are something we’ve missed in our midfield.

        I’d like to see Paulinho given a chance. I think the guy needed an extended rest after the World Cup as he’s been playing constantly for a number of years. He just looks to be running on empty for me.

  6. Reinert 25th November 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Great article, as usual. I am always looking forward to seeing these notifications dump into my mailbox!

    A large portion of our fellow fans seems to be questioning how we always need to be one man up to win. MP said we were going to win, anyways. I think he was right, seeing how players shifted into their better roles after half-time. First half was for analyzing our players and formation. We would tactically claim the play later in the match, anyways, I think this is part of MP’s analytical match-setup. I mean, we know that he is not stupid? He is ever the pedagog. In this case, I think we would have won, with or without red card.

    Another point is that we have had two red cards on Naughton, and two red cards on Fazio. Of course this affected how we played against other teams. Against Hull? Not so much. It is still so early in MP’s reign!

    To the point in settling the starting 11:

    The pre-season didn’t really yield good information on how good are, or how our squad plays, since half the team was away on duty for ones’ country. If we are analyzing this as friendly as possible, could it be that this entire 6months, or even the full season, is dedicated to testing the players? I mean, we have to assume that there is a point behind all the rotation. It surely tests the players aptitude for MP’s way of coaching and shows who are up for his training-regime. We need this period to know who to shed (because we have too many players that needs to play in center mid-field), and who to keep.

    I am not stressing, just backing slowly, to see more of the picture. I don’t want any knee-jerk kickings or buyings anylonger!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th November 2014 at 5:49 pm #

      Some good and interesting points Reinert. I agree about more new arrivals as that just adds more inconsistency to a squad that has had enough incomings already. Pochettino does work with the lads on the training field, so he should have an idea of who he wants to play where. Of course this is clouded by injuries and suspensions. He does also put them through game situations and they do play a midweek practice 90 minutes when there is no Europa League, so i’d imagine he must have tried out various players, positions and formations in these. I do think he should be given the whole season, possibly longer, to see what he can do.

      a friednly game midweek and I’d like to see more of a consistent starting X