Raids down the right made Kieran Trippier the key figure, however, a neat formation switch saw our Premier League encounter finish Tottenham 3-1 Fulham.
Mauricio Pochettino’s in-game changes have become an improved part of his managerial tenure at Tottenham. The team flew out of the traps, but Pochettino’s in-game tactical twist quashed a resurgent Fulham and secured three valuable points. Two goals in as many minutes saw us run out comfortable winners as it ended Tottenham 3-1 Fulham at Wembley Stadium.
Right side raids
Fulham coach Slavisa Jokanovic lined his team up in their usual 4-3-3 formation. He instructed his wide forwards, Ryan Sessegnon and Aboubakar Kamara, to help their full backs against the Tottenham wingbacks. The plan was to allow his full backs to get tight to their centre backs and therefore have plenty of defenders to congest the centre of the pitch.
Kamara’s defensive positioning was lapse. Trippier could therefore find acres of space from which to cross.
Time and again Trippier found himself in space to deliver. In a show of how this tactical battle was playing out, Lucas Moura missed the half’s best chance. Trippier crossed from acres of space on the right. The ball found its way to Ben Davies free on the left. Lucas Moura then somehow put his header wide with the empty goal gaping.
Right side raid opens the scoring
Tottenham had created a number of chances from the right before taking the lead from this flank. Once more Trippier would be heavily involved as his neat ball around the corner found the run of Christian Eriksen.
Fulham were all over the place at this point. Maxime Le Marchand had been dragged out from centre back to cover Trippier as Kamara was caught high. Left back Joe Bryan was infield but not covering where the centre back should’ve been. As a result Eriksen could run through the channel created.
Eriksen’s pull back deflected in to the path Lucas Moura. The Brazilian then curled a sumptuous shot in to far corner of Fabri’s goal. 1-0 and we had the lead our play had deserved.
Fulham fight back
Spurs had bossed the first half through Kieran Trippier’s raids and the lack of cover from Kamara. At half time, Slavisa Jokanovic made alterations to get his side up the pitch.
Firstly, he instructed his team to press and close down much higher up the field. Second, he also got them to look for the ball in-behind our high defensive line much quicker. The result was a swing in momentum.
Fulham quickly created chances. Pressure and a quick ball in-behind saw Aleksander Mitrovic ring a shot back off the post. Tottenham didn’t heed the warning and suddenly Fulham was level. Joe Bryan’s early cross in-behind our entire defence was cushioned back across goal by Sessegnon for Mitrovic to nod home.
Tottenham made two errors in the build-up. Firstly, Christian Eriksen was slow to get out and close Bryan down. Second, Bryan’s early cross caught Ben Davies recovering his position and Jan Vertonghen unaware of the danger behind him.
As a result, Sessegnon arrived at the back post to cushion the ball back across goal for Mitrovic.
Pochettino delivers a diamond
Fulham had become more of a force and the key was their trio of central midfielders against Eriksen and Dier in the middle of the park. Mauricio Pochettino’s philosophy relies upon having numbers in this zone in order to control the game. Without hesitation, the manager went from a back three to a 4-4-2 diamond to address the imbalance.
Suddenly, Spurs had four versus three in this zone as Dembele, Dier, Eriksen and Dele formed a diamond. The knock-on effect was brilliant. Fulham then had to pull extra players in to this zone to help their now overrun central trio, which created the space out wide for Tripper and Davies to get forward. Spurs now moved up the pitch and regained control.
Tottenham take the initiative
Spurs created many chances from wide. Harry Kane smacked the bar as Eric Dier swung in a pinpoint pass from space on the right. Dele Alli had two chances from Davies getting free down the left. However, Tottenham put the game beyond reach through their numerical advantage in the middle.
Having a number of players in the centre saw Dele Alli fouled by Andre-Frank Anguissa. Kieran Trippier then curled the resulting free kick spectacularly over the wall and just inside the post. Fabri had no chance as he was left clutching air. Trippier couldn’t have placed the ball in the net any better.
Erik Lamela had been introduced just as Trippier was spotting the dead ball and sizing up the goal. Eric Dier had been strangely on the right side of the diamond, but actually quite effective. However, Lamela now added a player with much more drive to run with the ball. As Fulham chased an equaliser, space opened up for Lamela to travel with the ball at his feet.
On two separate occasions, Lamela raced through the middle of the pitch with Fulham almost scared to touch him. Crucially, the Argentinean supplied the pass for Harry Kane to wrap up the game.
Lamela received the ball in space as Jan Vertonghen broke up a Fulham attack.
With men caught forward, Lamela had room to run in to. He drew in both Fulham full backs. Space was therefore created either side of the centre backs. Harry Kane could pull off in to the opening outside of Callum Chambers and dummy a shot to ease the centre back past him. Kane then curled the ball in to the corner of the goal. A fantastic end-to-end move. The score was now Tottenham 3-1 Fulham and Kane’s first Premier League goal in August.
Tottenham 3-1 Fulham overall
A magnificently coached game from Mauricio Pochettino. The team was set up brilliantly to take advantage of the lapse tracking of Aboubakar Kamara in the first half. In order to quell a resurgent opponent, the switch to a diamond midfield wrestled back control and put the match to bed.
There were also two pleasing returns. Toby Alderweireld made a huge difference. His long raking passes moved our attack forward much quicker and kept the tempo high, especially in the first half. Mousa Dembele showed that there is still gas in the tank and while he can continue to contribute shouldn’t be allowed to leave.
Lucas Moura was equally refreshing. His quick closing down and energy on the ball were pleasing as he stepped in for Son Heung-Min. However, his lapse finishing let him down. A missed guilt-edged header and an infuriatingly heavy touch when through on goal could have seen him with a first half hat trick.
Kieran Trippier continued his fine England form. The man is just devastating as a wingback. Whether finding a teammate or not, his continual crosses hit dangerous zones time-after-time, causing panic in the Fulham box. What’s more, his free kicks have now surely won him dead ball duties when in shooting range.
Overall, a very pleasing performance from both a coaching standpoint and for the players. Six points gained from two very winnable games. The first real test comes next Monday in Manchester.
Final score: Tottenham 3-1 Fulham.
MOTM: Kieran Trippier.