For the tldr; version: the PL needed a pause during the festive fixture period, and letting the matches continue as scheduled was a shortsighted move that has led to muscle injuries all across the league, putting a crunch on teams’ ability to rotate when COVID cases do happen, encouraging them to tempt the league to bend the postponement rules. They created this monster! Now, I hope the league does the right thing and lets the game go ahead, because it’s true that Arsenal should have been more strategic with their loans out, knowing AFCON was coming and the pandemic is still raging (they should also know to plan for one of Granit Xhaka’s regularly scheduled implosions, by this point). They might have to dig deep into their youth setup to field a full team, but that’s not Spurs’ problem, and it shouldn’t be reason enough to sway the league into a postponement.
(I guess that wasn’t really the short version. My bad.)
One positive from being out of the League Cup is that we are only going to be involved in one other competition besides the PL, and won’t have to contend with as many mid-week matches going forward. But the more postponements there are that have to be rescheduled, the less true that will be. Not that Spurs are the only team that will be dealing with fixture pile-ups.
But let’s assume for a moment that the match is still going on (as it should). We shouldn’t take for granted the fact that Arsenal will necessarily be the weaker side, because we will still be missing two of our most important players in Dier and Son. I’m also feeling concerned coming off the Chelsea double defeat, because the mentality in the away NLD earlier in the season was so poor, and I just hope the lads are able to brush off the disappointment of the League Cup and not go into the Arsenal match in a demoralized mood. We need to see intensity from minute one.
On an actual playing note, I think that more important than any formation or lineup decisions is a need for accurate passing
. Seriously, I have been going out of my mind the last few matches with how sloppy the passing has been. This sounds like basic fundamentals, but honestly, it affects every aspect of the tactics if the team isn’t doing the basics right. If you caught me on the latest Tottenham Depot podcast
you’ll know that I suspect the fabled new manager bounce has already ended with Conte. In the early weeks of his tenure, the team was looking so much better drilled than they were under Nuno. Now, they’re back to listless, disconnected performances. It’s a problem! And in fairness, I recognize that those initial strong performances under Conte were happening with his preferred lineup. I don’t think the so-called bounce ever really extended to the more rotational, squad players like Rodon, Tanganga, and Doherty. Since injuries will require that some of them continue to stay in the starting lineup for the time being, we can only hope that they will form a better understanding with the usual starters and we can get something going. Or at the very least, start stringing together more than one pass at a time. Some of these players are just seriously lacking in confidence at the moment.