Inside Lane: Spurs are finally building from the back with defensive solidity
Tottenham blogger Sarah Basett is feeling a new and unusual optimism about Spurs’ rearguard following three successive clean sheets in the Premier League.
We are quickly developing a defensive core like no other I’ve seen at the Lane in my lifetime through our trio of Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
Having said that, it has been a funny old start to the season – and by ‘funny’ I mean categorically Spursy in the anti-climactic sense. The month of August saw us tally up a grand total of three points in draws against Stoke, Leicester and Everton, and the pessimistic Tottenham fan in me says we will look back in a few months and rue the points that were lost against these teams.
However, the glass-half-full part of me clings in hope to the fact that we’ve kept clean sheets in half of our six league games – our last three in fact - and this isn’t something I’ve found to be particularly synonymous with the Spurs defence during my lifetime.
Jan Vertonghen appears much more mature and settled in comparison to the previous campaigns and looks to be forming a very promising partnership with new boy Toby Alderweireld. Perhaps Jan’s most crucial change is in his attitude – he looks to have rediscovered his passion for the game and it’s reflecting in the way he is commanding the back four.
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As a result, there are far fewer heart-in-mouth moments when the ball rolls back into precarious positions, and the knowledge that Lloris is our last point of defence is a notion fit to reassure even the most anxious fan.
During the summer I was asking some of my emotionally-invested fellow fans who they would rather hang onto: Hugo or Harry Kane? It was a question worthy of a few moments of deliberation but all except one opted to retain our front man.
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Don’t get me wrong, I would still be catapulted into catatonia if Harry left the Lane but I found myself thinking that holding onto heroic Hugo would have edged it. Could that have been out of desperation because he looked the more likely to leave? Perhaps. But the amount of points he has rescued for us is undeniable.
Our game against Palace on Sunday featured a rock-solid contender for save of the season, with Lloris denying Bakary Sako barely three minutes before our winner. He didn’t have a huge amount to do across the course of the game but pulled off some match-winning saves nonetheless.
After a fantastic last campaign, Danny Rose’s reintroduction to our starting line-up this season against Everton saw us achieve the first of our three shutouts.
Were it not for Kane’s blistering form last season Rose would have had a strong shout for player of the season – and on the other flank we have welcomed back a less enterprising but much-improved Kyle Walker.
Drawing similar parallels to Vertonghen’s revival, Walker seems to have stamped out many of the lacklustre inconsistencies that have frustrated us over the years.
Admittedly, a clumsy touch at the edge of the area against Everton was near-fatal but overall I would like to think he looks on track to fulfil the potential we all know he has.
With any luck we will be able to build from the back and hopefully end up with a goal difference we are actually proud of come the end of the season.
Follow me on Twitter @MissSBassett