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Five Talking Points from Spurs’ last-gasp Victory over West Ham

The Boot Room

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The Premier League began with a bang on Saturday, as millions of people; myself included rejoiced as our clubs graced our screens again. In particular, I will be looking at Spurs’ victory over their rivals West Ham United with a last minute goal by Eric Dier.

There was Manchester United showing perhaps it wasn’t all David Moyes’ fault last season as their problems continue to mount. There was Arsenal proving that they can win games at the death without playing well (a sign of potential challengers, or that they are not quite as good as everyone was expecting). Leicester showed they weren’t going to be pushovers in their first season back in the top flight as they gained a highly credible draw against a strong Everton side, and in East London the first London Derby of the season between West Ham and Spurswas filled with the passion we expect from those games, with two red cards, controversy and a 93rd minute winner.

It’s that game that we will be analysing with 5 biggest talking points from West Ham vs. Tottenham Hotspur.

For some players, Pochettino’s system is going to take some getting used to

Tottenham lined up pretty much as expected with Capoue keeping his place at the base of midfield from pre-season, Lamela continuing his resurrection on the right of midfield and Eriksen hoping to carry on last seasons form into the new one as he was deployed in the middle of the three behind Adebayor.

However, from the start it was obvious that some players perhaps did not fully understand their roles. The defensive shape of the team was good as was the signature from a Pochettino side; pressing high up the pitch, but it was rather the attacking movement that seemed to confuse several players. Lamela was cutting inside constantly which coupled with the right footed Lennon on the left, left the team devoid of any width to break through the resilient West Ham back line.

The centre of the pitch in West Ham’s half was jam packed as Lamela and Lennon came inside looking for the ball, taking away the space that Eriksen can be so effective in. It’s no wonder things improved in the second half as Lamela and Lennon switched sides and then improved even more dramatically when Townsend and Holtby (someone who has, from the start, understood Pochettino’s system) replaced their fellow wingers.

The quick passing game also seems to take some getting used to as Eriksen and Lamela attempted to get the ball moving as quick as possible taking away their accuracy and effectiveness shown by a 73% and 72% passing rate respectively; numbers which I’m certain will get far better as the season wears on.

There is no doubt that as the players get trained and versed more and more by Pochettino and his team, the quality of movement and understanding of their positions will increase as will the fluidity of their play as they keep the ball moving constantly. I cannot wait!

Eric Dier was a Hidden Gem 

£16 million was the reported price Arsenal paid for Calum Chambers, £26 million for Adam Lallana, £35 million for Andy Carroll and so on.

As is so often said “English players are overpriced” and it is hard to argue, yes Chambers is a good young player but £16 million could well prove to be excessive in a few years. Koscielny cost under £12 million, Vertonghen cost around £11 million and Kompany cost under £8 million.

Perhaps it is a silly comparison to make but the trend of English players costing far more than they should seems to be continuing, I mean £26 million for Lallana? And yet in the 93rd minute up pops Eric Dier, a 20 year old from Cheltenham and a £4 million pound signing for Spurs from Sporting Lisbon, to score a beautiful winner to give his new club their first 3 points of the season.

Dier is almost exactly a year older than Chambers, but showed great maturity throughout the 94 minutes at the Boleyn Ground, first at centre back then at right back following Naughton’s sending off.

Very seldom was he beaten for pace or strength and his discipline to not dive into tackles; Danny Rose take note, is extremely assuring. There was a moment in the game when Aaron Cresswell; who I felt was highly impressive, was running at Dier on the left. Dier kept him in the corner despite Creswell’s twists and turns to get a ball into box, Dier stayed on his feet and eventually forced Cresswell to put it out for a goal kick. It was a moment that perhaps went unnoticed by many but highlights the ability and maturity of Spurs’ new 20 year old that learnt his trade in Portugal.

Then of course, there was his run and finish to score the winner. Following a 60 yard dash up the pitch from right back he decided to stay up front and make a run across the defence. Harry Kane played a superb ball in behind Winston Reid, Dier took the ball in his stride to round the keeper and used his left foot to slot the ball into the back of the net. Cue wild celebrations from the Tottenham faithful.

Having been at the club for less than two weeks, Dier was highly impressive and slotted into the team with ease and at only 20 he represents a great investment for Tottenham and Pochettino.

West Ham have improved but are still a long way off where they would like to be…

Last year, Upton Park was not a happy place. Hearing your own fans boo you off the pitch is bad enough, but hearing it after winning a game is nearly unheard of and yet that’s exactly what happened last season in West Ham’s match against Hull.

Following the fans’ complete despair at the style of play that their beloved team has adopted under Sam Allardyce, the chairman promised change. Many thought that change would be in the shape of a new manager. Instead, the chairmen promised that they have been assured by Allardyce that he will adopt a new pass and move style of football that the fans have been craving for years and based on the evidence against Tottenham, he has tried.

There were long periods of the game where West Ham had Spurs’ backs to the wall most notably was the period that led to Naughton’s sending off. However, it is obvious that if the Hammers truly want to evolve as a team then Allardyce is not the man to lead it. Perhaps limited by his lack of fit striking options that forced him to start with Carlton Cole up front, the movement by West Ham looked slow. The fact that they didn’t have a clear chance against 10 men the whole game bar Downing’s opportunity in the last few minutes that forced a brilliant save out of Lloris, says as much as it needs to.

They were forced to take shots from far out and never really troubled the Spurs goal. So it seems that progress has been made at Upton Park but if they are to truly achieve the style that the Hammers faithful feel the team should play, Allardyce would have to move on sooner or later.

The Hammers have done well in the transfer market 

Aaron Cresswell; a 24 year old English left-back who made the championship team of the year, Enner Valencia, a classy and quick striker who made a big splash in the World Cup, Cheikhou Kouyaté, another product of Belgium adds some defensive steel.

These three signings along with Mauro Zárate and Carl Jenkinson represent some good business done by West Ham this summer. All part of Allardyce’s hope to change his teams style of play and its hard to argue that these signings wont go a distance to achieve this. Against Tottenham, Aaron Cresswell looked comfortable, confident and had a good duel with Eric Dier for most of the game, he shows great potential at 24 for a Premiership rookie and will be an asset to West Ham throughout the year, especially when Andy Carroll comes back into the side.

Enner Valencia came on late but showed a willingness to run the lines and not give up on a seemingly lost pass, something the West Ham fans love in a player – think Scott Parker.

On top of the signings there were other positive signs for the Hammers, as Stewart Downing showed why at one point Liverpool paid £20 million for his services. He gave Danny Rose a nightmare all game as he got good deliveries into the box and almost capped off his game with a great goal after a clever one-two with Kevin Nolan only to have the forever reliable Hugo Lloris deny him with a superb save.

If West Ham can keep their signings fit, adapt their style of play to accommodate them and finally get the best out of the likes of Jarvis and Downing there is no doubt that West Ham should relatively easily achieve a mid-table finish.

Is the Premier League the best league in the world?

Yes. I do not see how anyone can argue differently.

Every year the relegation battle, the title race and the race for fourth are some of the most exciting football stories in the world. On Saturday at the Boleyn Ground, we had 2 red cards, controversy, a missed penalty and a winner at the very death and that’s all on the first day at only one ground!

The game at Upton Park was one that both teams were desperate to win. I am not sure thar Tottenham fans could have handled losing that again, and that attitude seeps into the players. The elation from most of the Spurs players when Eric Dier slotted home the winner was great to watch as they sprinted towards the away support revelling in each other’s joy.

We have a long way to go; 37 games to be exact, but if those remaining games give us half the excitement that we had on Saturday, we’re in for a great year.

But then, it’s the Premier League so when are we not?


How do you see Tottenham getting on this season? Can the team adapt to Pochettino’s new system and secure a top four finish? Get involved with the discussion in the comment section below or on Twitter @TBRFootball.com.

 

West Ham United

Signing Yaya Toure is not enough to gain support for West Ham board

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Photo: Getty Images.

West Ham United are believed to be close to appointing former Premier League winning coach Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager, and reports indicate that it could lead to a coup signing in his former player Yaya Toure.

The Telegraph make the claims as they say that previous talks between the Hammers and the free agent broke down, but the appointment of the Chilean would smooth matters and may make a deal more feasible.

In truth, the signing may not actually impress West Ham fans all that much. They have grown used to the signing of players who were dominating the game five years ago and are now past their best. The signings of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra over the past year have shown as much with mixed results.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The board are desperately seeking a way to get fans back onside as discontent grows and fans accuse them of not spending sufficiently to back their team and the signing of such a high profile player of immense quality may satisfy those wishes.

That may be the plan, but Yaya Toure made only two Premier League starts in 2017/18 and such a record bares terrifying resemblances to the likes of Andy Carroll, commanding a high wage whilst spending more time in the stands watching on than actually making an impact.

Toure could provide a spark and excitement, there’s no denying that he would be an invigorating addition, but he is not the long-term solution that the club require as fans cry out for players with potential and already at their best. His signing would be a mere distraction.

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Liverpool

Liverpool target Besiktas’ Anderson Talisca would add superb attacking depth

The Brazilian has recorded 28 goal contributions in Turkey this season.

Max Cohen

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Anderson Talisca
Photo: Getty Images

After Besiktas’ 5-1 home win over Sivasspor on Saturday, manager Senol Gunes strongly hinted that star attacker Anderson Talisca would be joining Liverpool this summer.

The possible signing of the Brazilian midfielder would be a superb acquisition for Liverpool, adding depth and quality to the club’s star-studded attack.

According to FourFourTwo, the Besiktas manager confirmed Talisca would be leaving the Turkish club for the Premier League after two years on loan from Benfica.

And Gunes dropped a massive hint that put Liverpool as the possible frontrunners in attaining his signature ahead of Manchester United.

“He might be rivals with Cenk Tosun,” Gunes replied when asked about Talisca’s English destination.

Of course, former Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun plays for Everton– leading many to jump to the conclusion that Talisca is headed to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.

(Photo by Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

The signing would represent a strong statement of intent from the Reds, as Talisca has enjoyed a stunning two seasons at Besiktas and is a burgeoning attacking talent.

In 47 appearances this season, the 24-year-old was involved in an impressive 28 goals, scoring 20 and assisting eight.

And the Brazilian’s past form shows this fantastic season is not a one-off. In 2016/17, Talisca bagged 17 goals and six assists, despite only featuring 33 times in all competitions.

While some might argue that the Turkish Super Lig has a poorer defensive standard than the Premier League, Talisca has proven his worth in European competition as well. In his time at Besiktas, he has notched five Champions League goals, as well as two goals and four assists in the Europa League.

The Brazilian youth international would add impressive offensive depth for Liverpool, as the Reds look to seriously challenge for the Premier League next season.

The purchase of the prolific attacking midfielder would be an ideal first step in assembling a squad that could bring Anfield its first league trophy in over two decades.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham have already identified Eric Dier’s £25 million replacement in Wilmar Barrios

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Photo: Getty Images.

Losing first team regulars may not be a complete surprise to Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, and that may why be reports are indicating that the coach has already lined up an alternative to Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama should either move on this summer.

The Sun say that there is still interest in Dier, who will be at the World Cup with England, whilst Wanyama’s struggles with injury may mean that Pochettino looks elsewhere for the role of midfield enforcer.

They believe the target to be Boca Juniors’ 24-year-old holding midfielder Wilmar Barrios, a Colombian international who plays alongside Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez at international level.

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The youngster has become a key man in the Boca Juniors side but, perhaps unusually, has not caught the attention of many in Europe. Barrios has, though, developed a reputation as one of the best players in South America, particularly in his position, as he has become a linchpin protecting his back four.

That is protected in his very impressive stats, which show that he makes on average three tackles per game and 2.8 interceptions per match, compared to the 1.8 tackles and 1.3 interceptions for Dier playing in a very similar role.

Barrios’ intelligent reading of the game has drawn comparisons to Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, with both men guilt of diving into tackles on occasion despite all of their many strengths.

He may be raw, with no experience of playing in Europe, but at £25 million he could prove to be a bargain and Mauricio Pochettino’s return home to go on a shopping spree could provide a long-term solution to the holding midfield role which seems as uncertain as ever after the 2017/18 season.

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