A comfortable home win sees us overrun the Cherries’ midfield duo as our Premier League clash ends Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth at White Hart Lane.
“The best team we’ve faced this season” was how Eddie Howe described our side. In the face of an eight-point deficit to Leicester, another performance of confidence and conviction saw us despatch a Cherries team that had been on a good recent run. We overran their midfield duo on our way to a final score of Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth and it could’ve been more.
Kyle Walker’s high runs
Kyle Walker’s high energy and positioning has been a feature of recent matches. From the off our right back was looking to push himself extremely far up the field to give Max Gradel a problem. Along with Matt Ritchie, Gradel is the Cherries main attacking outlet. The idea was to give him a decision to make of whether he tracked Walker back or let him go to leave others behind with the job.
The ploy was a nice one by Mauricio Pochettino and even he couldn’t have believed how quickly it worked.
From the opening kick off, we had six men across the halfway line. The ball went back to Eric Dier who immediately looked for Kyle Walker up field on the touchline. The pass went out for a throw, but 30 seconds later possession was at the feet of Hugo Lloris. Our keeper’s swift pass out to Walker saw him in space with Gradel caught forward.
Bournemouth’s central midfield duo, which was pre-occupied with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, couldn’t help. Neither could full back Luke Daniels who was covering Erik Lamela. Gradel was left trailing and Walker could gallop in to the space.
Early crosses from farther out have been something that we’ve seen ever since Mauricio Pochettino has taken over. Kyle Walker flung one in before Bournemouth were expecting it or could react.
This gave Harry Kane the opportunity to slip away from the centre back and get the faintest of touches to guide the ball in to the far corner of the net, 1-0.
The move was excellent. It achieved the aim of what Kyle Walker was trying to do for much of the game. Walker’s positioning was so high and we were trying to get the ball out to him quickly from the centre of the park or from quick switches across the pitch.
What’s more, as Bournemouth plays with a striker and a support striker, their central midfield duo was unable to help cover. Andrew Surman and Harry Arter were overrun with Alli, Eriksen, Dembele and often Dier all getting in and amongst them.
The early cross was also key. We saw many of these, especially when Eric Dier played at right back, last season. Later in the game and Dier would provide another such early ball in from farther out that Dele Alli steered home. Unfortunately, Harry Kane was offside when he flicked the ball on for Alli.
Note how Gradel was caught trying to get back and recover again and left back Charlie Daniels is reluctant to get drawn out so soon.
Alli in the inside left channel
Dele Alli’s runs forward and bursts beyond the back line are now starting to get widespread media attention, and so they should. Alli has been outstanding this season and here, just as in the Villa game, he was very active in the inside left channel.
Alli not only has a good relationship with Harry Kane, but he also dovetails nicely with Christian Eriksen. The two have quite a rapport and Eriksen’s two neat back heel flicks up the line for Alli’s runs beyond him highlighted their connection nicely.
Alli ran beyond Eriksen to set up Kane’s second goal last weekend in our 2-0 win against Aston Villa and he assisted once again as we went two goals up.
The move started once more in our half with possession being played around at the back. As the ball went in to Erik Lamela, Bournemouth had overcommitted. Their full back and left sided winger had been caught on Lamela, but also one of their central midfield duo. As Lamela popped the ball off to Dier, this saw Bournemouth down to one central midfielder and right winger Matt Ritchie pinching in.
The ball went back to Kevin Wimmer who played it first time forward through two levels of the opposition to Dele Alli. This incisive vertical pass found Alli in space between the lines as he had darted away from Christian Eriksen.
As soon as the ball went to Alli, Harry Kane was on the move. He was already leaving their centre backs in his wake as Alli had time and space to lift his head and pick out his run. Kane flicked the ball neatly past Artur Boruc and in to the corner of the goal, 2-0.
The move had exposed Bournemouth’s central midfield duo with one of them being unnecessarily pulled out towards Erik Lamela in the build up. The other was then left in a hopeless position of whether to cover Dembele or drop back. This left Alli free to deliver a devastating through ball that was begging to be finished.
Central duo overrun for a third
The central midfield duo we re unable to react on our first goal and on the second they had been exposed as one of them made a rash decision. Our third goal saw them overrun once more as they both got sucked towards the ball.
The move started with another quick pass forward, this time by Toby Alderweireld. These searching balls of his are designed to have two outcomes. They either find a runner or the defence knocks the ball down and we hoover up the second ball, thus advancing it up the pitch quickly in either case.
This time Alderweireld’s searching pass was knocked away. Erik Lamela, as he often is, was first to the loose ball. As the ball ran free and was scooped up by the Argentinean, both Bournemouth’s central midfielders were drawn towards him. This left Eriksen free, as well as Harry Kane, as we simply had extra numbers in the central area again. Left winger Max Gradel and right winger Matt Ritchie weren’t helping their central midfielders by pinching in. Neither was the support striker by dropping back to help.
This gave Harry Kane a huge amount of space just off the Bournemouth central midfield duo. Before anyone could help, Kane had unleashed a venomous drive. Artur Boruc seemed to be surprised by the shot and parried it straight out for Eriksen to hoover up the rebound, Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth.
The third goal put the game and the three points safely away, keeping the pressure up on Leicester.
This was a performance to purr over. All parts of the team were playing at an extremely high level to ensure they were doing their job.
Eric Dier was a particular standout. He was dropping in between the centre backs much more than usual in order to negate the presence of Bournemouth’s two forwards. He was not only snuffing out their attacks, but his first time passing and quick movement of the ball really ensured that they weren’t a factor. This meant that we could get at Bournemouth’s central midfield duo much more readily.
Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth overall
Overall this turned out to be an easier win than anticipated against a team that was coming in to the game on a decent run of results.
We were very good here, but the surprising thing was that Eddie Howe did nothing to alter his team’s shape at any point of the match. It’s commendable to come to White Hart Lane and play with two forwards and a four-man midfield. However, even after chasing the ball for much of the first half he did nothing to alter his team’s formation, even at half time, just to give his central midfield duo some help. They were overrun, overwhelmed and Bournemouth were easily overhauled by three simple, yet highly efficient, goals.
Final score: Spurs 3-0 Bournemouth.