Tottenham will have welcomed the international break, after some sobering results. It was disappointing to get knocked out of the Carabao Cup to Colchester United, but the supporters will be far more concerned at their last two defeats. The 7-2 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich as humiliating and shows how far they have fallen since their Champions League heroics last season.
The underlying stats of the game hint that the performance wasn’t as bad as the scoreline suggests. Despite Bayern scoring seven times, the Bundesliga champions only managed to create one big chance in the match. To put this into context, Tottenham had two big chances. According to the Infogol expected goals (xG) metric, the home side had the better chances, with 1.66 compared to the visitors’ 1.24.
Several pundits praised the first-half performance of Tottenham and it did look like Mauricio Pochettino had managed to get the players back to their best. However, the second-half performance displayed a lack of effort and it was too easy for Bayern Munich. They conceded five times and fell apart in the final few minutes, with a lack of closing down, which made it easy for the Bayern attackers to pick their spot. Although the xG of the chances wasn’t high, the lack of pressure and effort displayed by the home side was a huge disappointment.
Following the embarrassment caused by the loss to Bayern Munich, the supporters would have been expecting a much-improved performance against Brighton and Hove Albion. However, it can be argued that the display was even more lifeless. Tottenham had only 44% possession and were out-shot 17 to 8. The xG of 2.27 to 0.4 in the Seagulls’ favour emphasises the poor performance served up by Pochettino’s men.
The stats can be used be paper over the cracks of the Bayern Munich defeat, but they clearly show the problems of the current side in the performance against Brighton. Prior to the weekend, Brighton had only scored five goals in seven Premier League matches. They put three past Tottenham and could have scored even more. It should be a wake-up call, but the defeats to Colchester and Bayern Munich should have also served this purpose.
It is clear that there are deeply ingrained issues behind the scenes. Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen have all looked to get transfers away from the club. In the modern day, players want to move on after a period at one club, but to have so many looking for transfers is unique. Pochettino has indicated that the team spirit is an issue, which suggests the off-field problems are affecting the performances on the pitch.
There is also a feeling that Pochettino himself has taken the club as far as he can. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are arguably the best managers in world football and both men have a preference to not overstay their welcome at a club. It could be that the message has become stale, which would be supported by the slow drop-off of the once relentless pressing.
The coming weeks will be crucial to determining the future direction of Tottenham Pochettino has been a widely successful coach, but he needs a few positive results to turn the tide. More performances like the Brighton defeat and it could be leading to an unhappy end for the Argentine manager.