Tottenham picked up where they left off as they beat Newcastle United away from home on the opening day. There was a lot of criticism regarding their lack of transfer business, but they showed why they will be contending at the top of the league again this season.
Mauricio Pochettino has built a very good group of players and they are one of the few teams that could afford not to spend any money in the transfer window. The Tottenham squad continue to improve year on year and there were one or two players that stood out on Saturday.
The Argentine coach decided to play a strong line-up with Harry Kane, Deli Alli and Jan Vertonghen all starting, despite their World Cup campaigns. There is more to come from Tottenham, but a win on the opening day has to be seen as a positive. Below, we discuss three things learnt from the game.
Dele Alli could be back to his best
It is unfair to expect a player of Dele Alli’s age to be consistent, but there is no doubting that he is one of the best young midfielders in the world. During the last three seasons, he has scored 37 Premier League goals and he looks set for another excellent season.
His best campaign came during the 2016/17 season when he scored 18 goals. Last year, this dropped to nine in the Premier League and he lacked confidence in the final third for periods. Against Newcastle, he looked back to his best and his movement caused the home side’s defence a lot of problems.
Alli scored the winning goal after he peeled off to the back post into space. The ball from Serge Aurier made it easy for the England international, but he will be pleased to be off the mark already.
Jan Vertonghen is vital to Tottenham this season
The supporters will be pleased that Toby Alderweireld is remaining at the club for another season, but it was his Belgian team-mate that stood out on Saturday. Vertonghen didn’t put a foot wrong and ensured that Tottenham left St James’ Park with all three points.
Defensively, he couldn’t be beaten as he excelled in all areas at the back. The centre-back completed seven ball recoveries and made ten clearances to help Tottenham manage the game through to the final whistle. Although Vertonghen isn’t known for his aerial presence, he won four aerial duels.
In addition to his defensive performance, Vertonghen scored the opening goal as he headed in from close range. It was his first Premier League goal since the 2012/13 season and he will be hoping that it won’t be his last one this campaign.
Harry Kane isn’t match fit
Pochettino would have been uncertain about whether to start Harry Kane or not. He decided to name the striker in his starting eleven and his performance was reflective of a player lacking in match fitness.
After his excellent summer with England, supporters would have had high expectations for Kane, but he looked lethargic on Saturday. He was wasteful in possession with a pass success rate of 69%. Meanwhile, he only managed to have two attempts on goal.
In recent seasons, Kane has struggled to get off to a quick start in August and it could be that he faces similar problems this year. Tottenham need to be patient with him as he builds up his fitness.