Sunday evening saw Tottenham Hotspur come up against a spirited Hull City side at Home in a tightly fought encounter. AVB’s men faced their biggest nemesis in the extremely low block defence and if it were not for a very dubious penalty decision Steve Bruce’s lads would have been going home happy with a well-deserved point. Skipper Curtis Davies was in inspired form at the heart of the visitors’ 5-man defence winning 100% of his tackles (2) and made at least double the amount of clearances (6) than any other Hull City defender. A familiar tale for Spurs at home this season dominating possession (66.2%) whilst looking for a way to break down their opposition.
Tottenham came out of the gate looking to commit numbers up the pitch early, looking to overload the central areas within the final third. Holtby was deployed in a Van Der Vaart-esque playmaking role, dropping off from the number 10 role into a central midfield position often, looking to start intricate passing moves in the middle. The German International attempted more passes in the opposition half than any other player in the game (49) but it was to no avail as Hull City’s 5 man defensive block coupled with a double defensive pivot of Huddlestone and Meyler stood firm.
Tottenham’s failure to break down this Hull City side continued through the second half, so instead AVB’s side looked to rely on their trusty dribble-heavy attacking transitions with Lennon and especially Townsend at the fulcrum of it all. Whilst the latter (Townsend) managed to complete 90% of his 10 attempted dribbles (9), Spurs’ attacking transitions were far too slow to distort the basic Hull City shape who often avoided pressing the ball until a few yards outside of their 18-yard box (particularly in wide areas and inside channels.) Hull did not pose much of a threat offensively though as they heavily rely on Huddlestone’s passing range to play quick transitional passes for powerful frontman Sagbo, but big Tom did not manage to find him enough, as a result Hull’s attack suffered.
The game looked bleak for Spurs, as they still could not find a way through the brick wall that was Hull City. Their probing phase of play was far too slow in tempo, failing to make the Hull defenders to have to shift over or overcompensate for any large spaces. However, Spurs were rather fortunate to be handed a penalty in the 78th minute when Vertonghen’s close range cross struck Elmohamady’s hand which was probably not in an unnatural position. Soldado calmly slotted home to give Tottenham all three points.
AVB will be pleased to have gained another 3 points as his side move into the top 4 but will be concerned with the lacklustre display which was embodied by the fans negative attitude towards the home side throughout the match. Facing the low block defensive system continued to be the Achilles heel of this Tottenham side and Tottenham must be more effective in altering the tempo of their play which former Croation midfielder Luka Modric was second to none providing. However, Andre clearly feels the fans have an important role to play in Sprus’ home form and effectiveness, stating:
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Andre Villas-Boas” quotestyle=”style02″] We played in a very difficult atmosphere, very tense, very negative and we looked like the away team but we kept our cool. I’m particularly happy with the way the players fought hard against that anxiety and kept their cool to take the three points. You need that help. We are great believers in emotion and motivation and that is always decisive when you play at home. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]