Boos rang round White Hart Lane at half time on Sunday afternoon – a sound that has sadly become all too familiar in recent weeks. Tottenham had just been played off the park by a very lively QPR team that Spurs had made look like Barcelona.
It was a worrying first 45 minutes. But for a couple of very good saves from Brad Friedel, the game could well have been beyond us at half time. There was no cohesion in the team, the play was too slow and deliberate and the players looked like they were strangers. A number of them looked uninterested, with Clint Dempsey a primary example. Asked to play in an unfamiliar position on the left he looked as if he would rather be in Liverpool than out on the pitch.
At half time Andre Villas Boas (AVB) had to decide how to turn the game around. It has often been said that AVB can be a stubborn man, someone who would rather prove a personal point than opting for the tactical change that the game is crying out for. On Sunday he got this decision spot on. It could be argued that he should have gone with the team that came out in the second half from the off, but at least he took the decision to make the changes at half time. There were numerous occasions in Redknapp’s reign where everyone in the ground could see the simple tactical improvements that could change the game in our favour apart from the man in charge himself.
By bringing on Steven Caulker to play at centre back, it allowed Jan Vertonghen to move to left-back (a position he is accustomed to in the Belgian national team) so that Gareth Bale could take up his natural position on the left-wing. This in turn allowed Dempsey to play a more familiar position in a more advanced role alongside Defoe.
The team instantly looked more balanced and were able to take the game to QPR. While the first goal had more than a hint of good fortune, the second was from a fast paced break that we have grown accustomed to at the lane. Dembele won the ball well on the edge of his own box to start the attack with men pouring forward.
The change in personnel at half time saw Spurs play to their strengths. This is summed up perfectly by looking at some of the player dashboards that are available from the Stats Zone app. The contrast in Dempsey’s performance in the second half compared to the first is staggering. In a more familiar position he posed far greater danger to the QPR defence, using his ability in the air to good effect and testing Julio Cesar on a couple of occasions.
Dempsey First Half Attacking Performance Dempsey Second Half Performance
Next Page: Spurs’ Left Hand Side Performance vs Queens Park Rangers (Bale / Vertonghen stats analysis) and a look at Vertonghen’s tackling stats!