Racing in to a three goal lead saw us open the inside channels, but failure in the full back zones meant our match end Wolves 2-3 Tottenham at Molineux.
Spurs sauntered in to a three-goal lead with some devastating football. Opening up the inside channels around Wolves’ three centre backs was key to the early advantage. However, Wolves responded through attacking our full back zones and almost completed the comeback. The match ended Wolves 2-3 Tottenham as a resilient team hung on to take all three Premier League points.
Opening up the inside channels
Tottenham had to overcome two initial obstacles. Firstly, the exceptionally early loss of Mousa Dembele. Second Wolves initially spirited game plan to defend from the middle third and press when the ball had returned to Hugo Lloris to test his kicking.
After adjusting to the new formation, Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks started to gain control at the base of midfield. The pair’s influence allowed Kieran Trippier to establish himself further forward. Trippier could take up some excellent attacking positions and it helped us score two before half time. The shift of Erik Lamela in to a number ten position was equally effective on all three goals, as he had another impressive outing.
The combination play of Lamela and Trippier allowed Spurs to open up the channels around Wolves three centre backs and score twice in two minutes.
Spurs scoring in the inside channels
Overcoming the initial hurdles, Tottenham took control of the match. The space down the side of the three Wolves centre backs was the target. Willy Boly was accountable on all three goals as Tottenham took advantage of his impetuosity and positioning.
Harry Kane had a quiet opening to the game, but the formation switch and establishment of control saw him come alive. Kane darted away from Boly and fired a dangerous shot across goal that was well saved by Rui Patricio’s fingertips.
The ploy to attack Boly had been established and seven minutes later Tottenham took the lead.
The passage of play saw Spurs control possession from back to front and work both sides of the field. The combination of Lamela and Trippier dragged Wolves’ defence around and opened up the inside right channel.
Lamela’s run had drawn Willy Boly out of the centre and towards the touchline. Space through the inside right channel was now open where Boly had been.
Trippier’s position drew wingback Jonny Castro Otto out of the middle to continue hold the inside channel open. As Boly retreated and overcompensated, Otto was left with Lamela on the inside and Trippier outside him.
Lamela then exchanged passes with Son and darted for the space that was still open in the inside right channel. He tore through it and finished with aplomb through goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s legs. 1-0 to Tottenham from a gloriously worked move.
Having opened Wolves up from stretching them, their defence narrowed up. However, this didn’t stop the combination of Lamela and Trippier devastating Wolves again.
Concerned by the positions and influence Lamela was taking up; Boly got attracted to him once again. As a result, Otto was narrow and left Trippier in acres of space out wide.
Trippier could take a touch and deliver a telling cross. Whilst this was going on, Spurs had flooded the lanes inbetween the three centre backs. Erik Lamela, Harry Kane and Lucas Moura ran the channels between Wolves’ central defenders.
Boly was attracted to Lamela’s positioning and as a result, his fellow centre backs were drawn towards the near post to compensate. Lucas Moura was thus left free at the back post to head home to put us two goals to the good.
Long ball Tottenham
Having attacked the inside channels after Erik Lamela had exposed Willy Boly’s positioning, Spurs added a third from a long ball. Wolves were pushing hard by this point, but a Hugo Lloris long kick downfield went straight over their aggressive positioning.
Harry Kane won the initial header against Willy Boly. Erik Lamela then grabbed the ball and drove straight at Conor Coady. Boly then made the mistake of getting attracted towards Lamela. This created a double team, but left Spurs with men over.
In trying to stop Lamela, Harry Kane was left one against one with Ryan Bennett. Kane made a small move to back away from goal, losing Bennett in the process. Although his initial shot was saved, Kane was first to the rebound to fire it in to the net and give us a three-goal advantage.
Spurs had got at the space down the sides of three centre backs once more; with Boly and the inside right channel once again the target.
Wolves attack the full backs
Wolves use of their wingbacks and wide forwards have been a refreshing tactic in this season’s Premier League. They once more deployed them to great effect in order to attack the space beyond our full backs.
Wolves had the ball in the back of the net doing just this. Initially getting the ball in-behind our left back, Ben Davies, saw them drag Toby Alderweireld out of the centre. Raul Jimenez had the ball in the back of the net but Matt Doherty was incorrectly flagged offside. A narrow escape.
Our full backs didn’t heed the warning. Early in the second half and Hugo Lloris was called upon three times to deny excellent chances caused by Wolves attacking the spaces that our full backs left.
Helder Costa tore past Ben Davies and then Harry Winks to tee up Raul Jimenez. In a great shooting position, Jimenez fortunately fired his shot straight at Hugo Lloris.
Davies was the target once again as Helder Costa then took it upon himself to try his luck. However, Hugo denied him with a strong left-footed clearance at the base of his near post.
Kieran Trippier then came under examination. Trippier’s positioning was much higher than Davies and Wolves created good chances from attacking the green grass behind him. Ivan Cavaleiro raced in-behind in a move that saw Ruben Neves’ shot brilliantly saved low down by Hugo Loris at his right-hand post.
Trippier then made a huge error, which saw Wolves come back in to the game. The excellent Morgan Gibbs-White sent a pass in-behind Trippier for Leo Bonatini to chase.
Trippier recovered excellently to get to the ball first. However, in turning back inside rather than out, Trippier got himself into trouble. He tried to escape by flicking the ball through Bonatini’s legs. The trick failed and suddenly Wolves were in possession in a dangerous position.
As the ball went in to Raul Jimenez, Juan Foyth made an unnecessary challenge as the Wolves man had his back to goal and was going away from it. The tackle was needless and clumsy. Jimenez hit the turf and referee Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Ruben Neves converted the spot kick and Wolves were back in the game.
Wolves pressing and pressure increased. Ten minutes later and they were back at Wolves 2-3 Tottenham courtesy of another penalty.
Kieran Trippier was culpable once again. The right back’s positioning was too high, especially when compared to Ben Davies.
Jonny Castro Otto raced after the pass, which dragged Juan Foyth out in to a position and a foot race he wasn’t suited for. Recognising the mismatch, Otto made a nice double move to slow down and then go at Foyth with a change of pace. Foyth couldn’t stay with him and brought him to the ground as he attempted to lever him away from the ball with his strength.
Mike Dean once more pointed to the spot and Wolves had another penalty. Raul Jimenez coolly converted, sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way again. The match was now finally balanced at Wolves 2-3 Tottenham.
Tottenham hang on
Seeing the disarray at the back, Mauricio Pochettino sent on Davinson Sanchez. Juan Foyth was initially moved in to defensive midfield to retain the back four and get him out of the firing line. However, Sanchez almost conceding a third penalty by grappling with the Wolves striker saw Foyth slot in to a back three.
Spurs disjointedness continued and wasn’t helped by the change. The plans for Sanchez and Foyth had quickly altered and Tottenham were all over the place as a result.
Unlike previous Tottenham teams that would have conceded the equaliser, this current team is made of stronger stuff. We were able to hang on to keep the final score at Wolves 2-3 Tottenham and take another valuable away win.
Wolves 2-3 Tottenham overall
There was a lot to like about this Tottenham performance. The ability of the team to adjust to the early loss of Mousa Dembele and then take control of the match was impressive. The combination play between Erik Lamela and Kieran Trippier to drag around and tear the left side of the Wolves defence apart was equally excellent.
However, the defensive issues of our full backs were once more thrust in to the limelight. Kieran Trippier’s continued aggressive attacking play was reckless with Juan Foyth alongside him. Taking chances with the ball and his positioning is permissible when we are seeking to establish an advantage. However, three goals up against a dangerous Wolves team needed him to rein it in and recognise the situation.
Juan Foyth had a Premier League debut to remember. Excellent in the frst 66 minutes, Foyth made a number of key tackles and blocks, whilst also being highly impressive on the ball. However, his evening fell apart and will be remembered for the two penalties he conceded. Learning points for Foyth, but equally for Trippier who left him exposed when he should’ve known better.
However, the overall ability of this Tottenham team to dig in and see the match out was impressive. Mauricio Pochettino, as we all were, was breathing a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle. Previous Tottenham teams would’ve folded under the immense pressure, but this unit is made of something much, much stronger.
Final score: Wolves 2-3 Tottenham.
MOTM: Erik Lamela.