Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Where is it all going so wrong for Tottenham and Nuno?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 29 Sep 2021

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Opening the 2021/22 campaign with a gritty 1-0 win against Manchester City last month, it appeared to some that Tottenham might have managed to immediately find their feet under new boss Nuno Espírito Santo.

However, while Spurs might have opened the new season with three Premier League wins on the bounce, the Lilywhites have come crashing back down to earth in a hugely worrying fashion.

Putting in a woeful first-half display in Sunday’s north London derby, Tottenham have only shown the same issues that haunted them throughout last season’s run.

Now a side that is desperate to find some kind of boost, where has it all gone so wrong for Spurs after their August purple patch?

September’s defensive nightmare

Opening the new campaign with three 1-0 wins on the spin, including that shock victory against the defending Premier League champions, Tottenham had initially gained plenty of praise for their rugged start to the season.

However, marking their return from September’s international break with a stunning 3-0 defeat away at a Crystal Palace side in the midst of their own transition, Spurs have now once again gained a reputation for their rather glaring issues at the back.

Shipping a trio of first-half goals in Sunday’s north London derby as they eventually fell to a deserved 3-1 loss at the Emirates, Tottenham’s new boss has been vocal about his side’s defensive struggles.

With academy graduate Japhet Tanganga enduring a roller coaster run since opening the 2021/22 campaign, Tottenham have in fact conceded three goals in their last three Premier League appearances on the spin, their worst run since 2003.

In desperate need of some stability at the back, Spurs fans will also be wondering why big-money summer arrival Cristian Romero hasn’t been handed a domestic run.

Once again having to settle for a spot at the Emirates, the Argentina international has made just a single Premier League start since completing his £50million move from Atalanta.

What to do with Harry Kane?

Shipping nine Premier League goals since returning from September’s international break, there is no doubt that Nuno will also have a real headache over Harry Kane’s downbeat run of form.

While the England skipper might famously be a slow starter when opening a new campaign, the 28-year-old has looked a shadow of the player that picked up his third top-flight Golden Boot earlier in the year.

Heavily linked with what would have been a blockbuster move to Manchester City over the summer, Kane once again cut a frustrated figure in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat against Arsenal, and he is still waiting for his first Premier League goal.

Coming under real scrutiny from fans and pundits alike as he has found himself dropping deeper and deeper this season, Tottenham’s influential talisman has also been not helped by a lack of service to him.

With Spurs only managing to record a pair of goals from open play so far this campaign, they also find themselves remarkably sat bottom of the standings when it comes to shots on goal.

Struggling to find that partnership with Son Heung-min this time around, Kane also finds himself enduring his worst domestic goal drought since 2016.

Nuno already under pressure

Eventually turning to Nuno over the summer as the man to replace Jose Mourinho on a permanent basis, it was no secret to many across the Premier League that the former Wolves boss felt like a last resort, rather than their number one target.

Coming crashing back down to earth after opening the 2021/22 campaign with three wins on the bounce, the 47-year-old’s pragmatic approach is becoming a huge frustration for fans around the white half of north London.

With no Premier League side creating fewer chances from open play so far this season, Nuno knows that he faces what is a crucial meeting when his struggling squad turns their attention back to European duties in midweek.

A side that is desperately seeking a boost, Spurs will be next seen on Thursday night when they look to land their first Conference League win when they host Slovenian outfit Mura.

With the pressure now firmly on his shoulders, Nuno also finds himself priced at 4/1 with Unibet to be the first manager this season given the boot, only marginally behind Newcastle boss Steve Bruce.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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