Pre-Season is over, and now the real business gets underway, starting with West Ham on Saturday, but I want to have a look back at what we saw in pre-season – the players that impressed, goals scored, the results we got and the performances we put in:
Tottenham 3-3 Seattle – Game 1 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our first game of pre-season on July 19th was new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. What we instantly saw from the team was a new way of playing, focusing on possession, pressing football with attacking flair and lots of energy. It was a very early stage of getting to grips with Pochettino’s ideas and strict fitness regime. We played well, passed the ball as well as we could on a difficult artificial surface and created a nice goal for Lewis Holtby to make it 1-0 early on, Harry Kane with a fantastic assist. Seattle then scored a penalty and a terrific goal that no goalkeeper could have saved to put them 2-1 up, probably against the run of play. We levelled with Roberto Soldado from the spot, who did extremely well in the build up to get the foul. Sloppy defending from Younes Kaboul led to Seattle taking the lead 3-2, but we levelled again late on from an Iago Falque penalty. A good run out but nothing spectacular. Lewis Holtby without a doubt man of the match, but Cristian Ceballos and Etienne Capoue also impressed.
Tottenham 3-2 Toronto – Game 2 of the USA & Canada tour.
In our second pre-season game, against a fairly strong Toronto side, we game out on top, Erik Lamela opened his pre-season account with 2 goals in a first half in which we played really good, fast paced football with a purpose. Two very well taken goals that will only help Lamela’s confidence for the new season. In the second half, we were much more sloppy, especially at the back, but I think this was down to many changes made at the break to give players some game time, Toronto pulled it back to 2-2, but in the 85th minute Andros Townsend secured our first win of pre-season with a sweet right footed strike. A game of two halfs, but I think we played well on the whole and slightly improved from the Seattle game which is always important. Erik Lamela bagged that man of the match award for me for his two goals and impressive game all-round. Another impressive game for Etienne Capoue too, I thought.
Tottenham 2-0 Chicago Fire – Game 3 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our final game of the tour in America and Canada ended with a win, in comfortable fashion. We were never troubled by Chicago and played some great football ourselves although weren’t as clinical as we’d shown in the games against Toronto or Seattle. Defensively we were much more together, though and we still passed the ball nicely and found openings. Harry Kane opened the scoring after great work from Lewis Holtby, who was everywhere in this game, he played it across for Kane and he made no mistake to make it 1-0. A very quiet 80 minutes past before we scored a fantastic second goal in the 85th minute, wonderful build up play from Roberto Soldado released Aaron Lennon, who showed his pace to go past the Chicago defence and then the goalkeeper before slotting home. A welcomed clean sheet was nice after some shaky defending and another sign that we were learning from mistakes and rectifying them and trying to improve. Lewis Holtby was man of the match once again for me, but Erik Lamela was also very impressive and probably could have had a few goals himself.
Tottenham 6-1 Celtic.
An odd pre-season game, with Tottenham looking for a stern challenge from the Scottish champions, but Celtic much more focused on their Champions League dreams that were at the time in a dire state. Only 1-2 first teamers travelled with their team, and not even their manager turned up for the game in Finland, but it was another 90 minutes to make us sharper and more confident. 6 goals scored, whether against Real Madrid or Burton Albion is never a bad thing, and as all 6 goals were scored by different personnel it shows how much firepower we can have with all guns blazing. Harry Kane, Roberto Soldado, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor from the spot scored the goals. We played well, especially Etienne Capoue for me, and once again Lewis Holtby who has had a fantastic pre-season.
Tottenham 2-1 Schalke.
Our toughest test of pre-season and a good win. Schalke are a decent team who bring physicality as well as creativity in attack. Although they didn’t have some of their best players, most notably Draxler, they were a good test to have in our final game in front of the home crowd. The first half we played some great stuff with Danny Rose our best player on the left hand side giving us an outlet of pace and width that I think we lack a bit when playing Lamela, Eriksen and Lennon, all roaming around centrally. Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring for us from a Lewis Holtby assist, playing against his former club. We moved the ball well, showed good, one touch football with a lot of pressure on the opposition when not on the ball. We should have scored a lot more goals than we did, that was my only disappointment. We worked hard and another 90 minutes of competitive football will help our cause. Roberto Soldado got our second goal, after Andros Townsend’s shot was parried he chipped the keeper with a header. A good finish and it can only help his confidence. To concede was disappointing, as it always is, but we got a result and a good run out, which is important in our last game ahead of the new season. New signing Eric Dier was my man of the match for this game, but I was also impressed by Danny Rose and once again Lewis Holtby.
Top five performers:
1 – Lewis Holtby. A fantastic work-rate and his creativity seems to have improved from past seasons. An end product to his game and I think one who should be in the 11 to face West Ham. In this pre-season he was our outstanding performer for sure, goals and assists. Contributing in every game.
2 – Etienne Capoue. After an injury struck season in 2013/14, a good pre-season was a must for Etienne and he duly delivered. Very comfortable on the ball and showed some of the form we saw early last season. If fully fit, I’d start him against West Ham.
3 – Erik Lamela. Like a new player this pre-season. Now hoping for him to push on and show his talent where it matters. Not afraid to run at the opposition and while rotating from right wing, central attacking and left wing, he showed versatility as well. Going to be a big player for us this season I think.
4 – Danny Rose. Possibly a surprise for some to read he’s been one of our best players this pre-season, but he definitely has in my eyes. The addition of Ben Davies has seemingly given him a spark to prove himself, and it’s showing to be great having competition for that left back slot now. If Danny can improve his final ball and concentration this season while keeping fit, there is no reason why he can’t hold down a starting position, even ahead of Ben Davies.
5 – Harry Kane. I thought Harry played really well this pre-season, he worked hard and showed how much his finishing has improved in the last season and a bit. He’s established himself as a first team player, whether on the bench or starting. He does a job and when he gets opportunities in front of goal he has looked good. To pick him in the top 5 players was a tough decision, as other performers such as Roberto Soldado, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend have impressed me in these friendlies. It’s a big season for Harry and I hope he can continue to prove that he has a big future at Tottenham, at just 21 years old.
Being undefeated in pre-season can only be a positive, we had some brilliant displays, we scored goals, we showed our much more attacking and exciting style of football and it’s given Mauricio Pochettino a good start and implemented some positivity into the Tottenham fans, which is undoubtedly a good thing. One thing I can see as another big positive is that I can’t pick out a player who I think has been poor in pre-season. All have been at par or above and this gives me a lot of hope leading into the new season that Pochettino is the man to get the best out of our deep, quality squad. Of course, it is only pre-season, and it does not compare to the pace, intensity and difficulty of the Premier League, but it can give us an indicator for how Pochettino will line up.
With the World Cup this summer, it has disrupted the pre-season of some of our biggest stars, but this is the same for all the big teams. Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Michel Vorm no minutes of game time to their belt, which is slightly worrying, along with Vlad Chiriches who was seemingly injured for the whole pre-season, but Nabil Bentaleb and Hugo Lloris were able to get in the team and up their fitness levels which is a very good thing. Both Hugo and Nabil are going to be big players this season for us, I think. I’m sure despite not playing much football, most of the magic happens on the training pitch, getting fit and learning what Mauricio Pochettino wants from them this season.
Our style of play has improved dramatically from last season and we’ve only had a few months under the guidance of Pochettino. Hopefully we continue to improve and show more attacking flair once more top players come into the frame and possibly new signings in the last few weeks of the window. It’s been a good pre-season results wise but I was more impressed with how the players went about their business and tried to show their worth to Pochettino. Now, we have to go to Upton Park for our biggest game in a long time. A good start to the season is crucial and especially against a team that beat us three times last season. Let’s hope for the best. COYS!!
Thanks for reading! What did you think of our pre-season performances? Comment below!