5 talking points from Tottenham’s 3-0 home win over Hull City
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Christian Eriksen scored twice while Victor Wanyama was also on target as Tottenham secured a 3-0 home win over Hull City in the Premier League. Here are five talking points.
1. Pochettino opts for wing-backs again
There was some consternation when Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama’s names both appeared on the teamsheet – the expectation had been that Harry Winks would replace the injured Mousa Dembele, and the midfield partnership looked rather reserved.
However, it quickly emerged that Pochettino had decided to move away from the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation that had been used in the previous games and try something different again.
Dier lined up on the right side of a three-man rearguard, along with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, allowing the full-backs to push on and operate as wing-backs – and it worked well.
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Spurs’ offensive qualities were questioned after their limp 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, but there seemed little wrong with their creativity as they strung together 30 passes to score the opening goal.
Vertonghen chipped the ball down the line to left-back Danny Rose, who teed up Christian Eriksen – and the second goal was very similar but on the other flank, with Dier freeing Walker, who crossed to the Dane.
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Hull provided scant resistance and Tottenham will have tougher tests, but Pochettino will reflect that his plan worked effectively, and he might use it again for Sunday’s home game against Burnley.
2. Spurs’ full-backs excel – but when will they get a rest?
Pochettino opted to pick his first-choice full-backs for the fourth time in 12 days, overlooking both Trippier and Davies, who were named among the substitutes.
The manager’s decision was fully vindicated as Rose and Walker both set up goals, but is it a sign that he doesn’t fully trust his deputies’ ability to be similarly effective? After all, the opposition could not have been much easier in the context of the Premier League.
We will probably know more when Pochettino names his next line-up at the weekend. If Pochettino feels the need to pick Walker and Rose once again it will provide a clear message about how he views the reserves.
3. Christian Eriksen thrives in his central role
The Dane has largely been used in wide positions under Pochettino, and he started the previous four games against Chelsea, Swansea, CSKA Moscow and Manchester United on the right flank – albeit with a licence to drift infield.
He impressed in those games, and tonight he got a chance to operate in a free, central role as Tottenham sought to break down their visitors.
It suited him well. Eriksen dropped deep to get on the ball and dictate the tempo, he raced down the right flank to put in a low cross, and he arrived in the box to score twice.
The 24-year-old would probably look less comfortable in the position in other games and scenarios, when the central midfielders need to be more disciplined and do more of the gritty defensive work.
However, when the priority was to provide creativity and break down defensive visitors, he was the ideal man for the job in the middle and he clearly enjoyed it.
Eriksen has certainly hit a purple patch of form, and he has now scored five goals in his last five games, while he nearly completed a hat-trick this evening, seeing his free kick tipped onto the woodwork before Victor Wanyama followed up to make it 3-0.
4. Moussa Sissoko continues his progress
The £30million Frenchman has generally had a poor start to his time at Tottenham but there have been encouraging signs in the past fortnight.
After setting up Eriksen’s second goal against Swansea last weekend, the 27-year-old made an impressive impact as a substitute at Old Trafford on Sunday, repeatedly beating his full-back.
He was consequently named in the starting line-up against Hull tonight and he fully justified his selection.
Spurs’ system, with the two wing-backs, enabled the 27-year-old to play in a narrower role than in his previous outings, and he was lively as a right-sided support act behind Harry Kane, running at his opponents with strength and aggression.
Tottenham have desperately needed someone who offers that direct, powerful approach, and Sissoko seems to be getting better and more confident with every game.
5. Tottenham’s home comforts
While Spurs’ form has been a inconsistent in general, they are performing well at home and have now won their last three games at the Lane against West Ham, Swansea and Hull, scoring 11 goals in the process.
The Lilywhites have also won their last 13 home league games against newly-promoted sides – which bodes well as Burnley prepare to travel to north London on Sunday.
Spurs remain fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and three ahead of Manchester United after both of their rivals also won tonight.
However, they have closed the gap on third-placed Arsenal in this midweek round of fixtures and now just lie four points behind their north London rivals.
With the Gunners and Manchester City going head to head at the weekend, Tottenham can gain further ground if they can put together a repeat performance against Burnley and extend their winning run at home.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs