Tottenham Hotspur opened its new stadium doors to the Premier League for the first time against Aston Villa. It was the first start for Frenchman Tanguy Ndombele who put in a promising first performance and grabbed an important debut goal. However, it raised questions as to whether Spurs should start a future midfield without at least one of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen or Giovani Lo Celso involved.
Tanguy Ndombele Debut Goal in Spurs Victory Over Aston Villa
Pochettino dropped Jan Vertonghen from the squad. According to Patrick Davison of Sky Sports, Pochettino merely chose to drop the player with no further ramifications. During the match, the Belgian was sitting in the stands with newbie Ryan Sessegnon and the injured Dele Alli.
The Villans started four of their new signings in the first eleven. James Chester was unavailable due to injury, the only player unavailable on the day.
An exciting start to the match was instigated by a driving run from Lucas Moura who fired narrowly over the bar. The Brazilian then met a cross that wasn’t powerful enough to challenge Tom Heaton. It was a confident start that saw Spurs dominate in possession, with a few chances.
However, it was Aston Villa who grabbed the first goal courtesy of John McGinn. From a long ball, he managed to get behind the Spurs defence, beating Danny Rose easily and then burying the ball into the bottom right corner. Davinson Sanchez was also at fault for poor positioning.
The most damning statistic at half time was Spurs’ sole shot on target. Both Kane and Moura were at fault for missing two good chances.
Sissoko spurned a glorious opportunity in the 50th minute. With the goal gaping, the midfielder looked as if he was trying to drill a cross across the box. Whatever he was attempting failed miserably.
Further into the half saw Tottenham begin to pile on more pressure, playing towards that massive South Stand. There was a multitude of Villa blocks, tackles and interceptions, their defence remaining resolute.
To galvanise a rather too straightforward midfield, Pochettino brought on Eriksen for Winks. Eriksen made a quick impact, floating a great ball forward to Kane in the 67th minute. A few minutes later, he was involved in a move that eventually ended up with him shooting disappointingly wide on the end of the box.
The Spurs equaliser came around the 74th minute. And, it was none other than Premier League debutante Ndombele. The ball came out to him after a corner was only half-cleared, and he curled a strike almost through Tyrone Mings and then into the bottom right corner.
Two goals from Harry Kane then ensured all three points for Spurs. The first was an instinctual finish after a deflected Lamela shot. But, the final goal was one of greater beauty. Sissoko won a high ball, drove forward superbly before laying it off to his team-mate to finish the job. Another great finish for Kane into the bottom-right corner.
Tanguy Ndombele’s First Start And Spurs Midfield Issues
The French midfielder had an impressive start to the match. He displayed his range of qualities from his combative midfield play as well as his quick feet, dribbling skills and of course, his finishing ability.
Late in the first half, Ndombele dinked a great cross to Harry Kane on the back post, who could not finish.
A question arises on whether it is ideal to play Ndombele alongside Moussa Sissoko. They are both midfield destroyers who are suited to breaking up play and carrying the ball forward. In future Spurs may want to change up their midfield combinations. When Dele is fit, or when Giovani Lo Celso is integrated into the side, these more attacking options should allow for more diversity in midfield.
Previously, Christian Eriksen has been almost always involved in the starting-eleven, supplemented by Dele Alli. When he declared his intentions to move to a new challenge, he found himself out of favour. Once the European transfer window closes, and if Eriksen remains a Spurs player, the club should probably find a way to get him back into the team.
Once he entered the field of play, Tottenham were a transformed side. This is mainly due to Eriksen’s importance not just in terms of his vision and passing, but his ability to dictate and organise the play in the final third. He was decisive in the comeback.
Lamela Scraps Way to Victory
The Argentinian had a brilliant chance to prove himself capable of giving Son Heung-Min a run for his position. However, during the match, he was not as impressive as he was during pre-season. Sometimes he spent too long on the ball. Other times his final ball was rather lacking.
However, he was pivotal in the 86th minute, scrapping away on the edge of the box, taking the ball off Jack Grealish before taking a shot, which eventually found its way to Kane’s feet.