Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways at Wembley Stadium as they took all three points against a hard-working Cardiff City side. Spurs were without a number of their key personnel and at times looked like a team of strangers. However, without playing well, Spurs still did enough to win the game.
Where are the Exciting Tottenham Hotspur of the Last Few Seasons?
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs have played high-pressing, free-flowing, exciting football. At the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, they have looked tired and lethargic. Against Cardiff, it was not easy on the eye. Whilst some of that can be attributed to Cardiff, who worked hard to reduce space, Spurs looked leggy once more. The high pressing of previous seasons has gone and there is little of the fast attacking wing back play that has been so evident in the Pochettino era.
Oh, So Tired
Spurs had a number of players at the World Cup in the summer and fatigue has been cited as a reason for some of their less than thrilling displays. Harry Kane hasn’t been at his best but was looking more like his old self against Huddersfield and scored a typical Kane goal in that game along with a penalty, followed by a lovely finish against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Fatigue as an excuse for lacklustre performances can only be used so often.
Cardiff Looking Doomed
As early as it may be in the season, Cardiff City are still without a win and looked toothless up front again. They did have chances and Josh Murphy went close after another Hugo Lloris error but Toby Alderweireld got back superbly to clear. They worked hard and kept Spurs to a handful of clear chances. Cardiff were not helped by the ridiculous foul on Lucas Moura by Joe Ralls that resulted in a red card. It was dangerous, cynical and stupid.
The Cardiff fans were perhaps the most impressive thing about their team at Wembley. They never stopped singing and unleashed an unerring rendition of the Welsh national anthem which some Spurs fans even applauded. But unless they can put the ball in the net, Cardiff City will be back playing Championship football again next season.
All the Top Teams Win When Not Playing Well
Despite Spurs’ less than impressive performance, they are third in the Premier League and haven’t hit anywhere near first gear yet. Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli are all to return and the inventiveness of Eriksen and Alli has been missed.
Lucas Moura and Heung Min Son add pace to Spurs and you feel that there is much more to come from that pair. Moura plays higher up the pitch which has meant that Kane is playing withdrawn. Whilst Kane can play well from that position, he is at his most effective in the box and he hardly touched the call in the area against Cardiff.
Spurs are only a point off the top of the league without playing well. They have big games to come against PSV Eindhoven, West Ham United and Manchester City. It will be how Spurs perform in those games that could define their season. But if the best is yet to come from Tottenham Hotspur, they are in a good position to play their part in the race to win the Premier League.