Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Three things to note as Mourinho tactics fail again

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It was an interesting round in the Premier League this weekend, with several teams apparently aiming for the title dropping points when they possibly shouldn’t have. On Saturday, Manchester United drew 2-2 away to Leicester City and Chelsea were beaten 3-1 by a struggling Arsenal in north London. Liverpool saw a first-half lead cancelled out by relegation-battlers West Bromwich Albion on Sunday at Anfield, and the same thing happened to Tottenham Hotspur who were thwarted at the Molineux by Wolverhampton Wanderers.

No way, Jose

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It took less than a minute for Spurs to take the lead through Tanguy Ndombele’s 20-yard effort which appears to have been seen late by Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio. From that moment on, the visitors pulled back and allowed the hosts come at them, in a genuine Mourinho fashion, obviously hoping to preserve their lead and seek for counterattacking opportunities to double it.

It was similar when Spurs played Liverpool at Anfield, though they were going for a point in that match. And just as it happened then, their hope cheated them this time as well.

When a team sets up to defend all the time, they need all their players focused 100% throughout, because the opposition will be coming at them relentlessly. Wolves weren’t as convincing as the Premier League champions in terms of possession, but they did manage to have the ball under their control for 55% of the time and to take 10 shots at goal, compared to five which came at the other end. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min didn’t look nearly as brilliant as they had for most of the season so far, and when that happens, Spurs need luck to score goals.

In the end, they were made to pay when Ben Davies failed to track the run of Romain Saiss properly during an 86th-minute corner, and the Wolves defender slotted his header past Hugo Lloris.

It’s getting more and more difficult for teams to keep their net intact for 90 minutes in that fashion, and the three-time Premier League-winning manager will obviously have to get his team to play in another way if he is to hope to win it again this term. As for Wolves, they definitely deserved their point, and arguably more.

Matt returns home

Matt Doherty moved from Irish side Bohemians to Wolverhampton in 2010 for £75,000, and after loan spell with Hibernian and Bury, he was a regular first-teamer with Wolves for seven years until he signed for Spurs this summer for £15 million. This was, of course, the first time he played against his old team, not to mention at his old home, and he was welcomed warmly by his former manager and teammates.

It’s nice to see a player, who has left a club, appreciated for his long service in this manner.

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As for his performance in this match, it was a decent one. He played on the right flank as always, as a wing-back in what mostly looked like a 3-5-2 system. Facing Marcal and different interchanging forwards, he did some nice work defensively and was often involved when Spurs had the ball on that side, but their overall defensive tactics prevented him from making those runs forward he was so well known while he played under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Wolves miss Jimenez

Wolves are reportedly on the hunt for a striker in January, due to Raul Jimenez being likely to miss a large number of games still after suffering a fractured skull against Arsenal almost a month ago. It’s understandable why, when the contribution of Fabio Silva in this game is looked at.

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Even though he’s obviously a big talent, at the age of 18 he simply doesn’t have the experience it takes to trouble Premier League defenders on a regular basis. One day he may become a big star, but at the moment, the drop in quality when Espirito Santo has to start him in the place of Jimenez is just too big. Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence looked very lively and did a lot more against the Spurs defence, and Adama Traore’s ability to cause panic with his dribbling ability is well-documented.

Nonetheless, if Wolves don’t get a striker of more experience than Silva next month, Espirito Santo will likely be ticking off the days until the 29-year-old Mexico international is back.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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