Tanguy Ndombele’s Tottenham career to date has been newsworthy, even if he hasn’t managed to hit a consistent run of form. There have been a lot of media stories about his professionalism and happiness since he moved to England. His relationship with Jose Mourinho wasn’t great and the early indications were that he wouldn’t be integral under Nuno Espirito Santo either. There were rumours that he wanted to leave during the summer, but he has stayed in North London. During the last month, he has broken into the team and showed why the club spent big to sign him.
There have been encouraging periods of form for Ndombele in the Premier League, but he has never managed to sustain it. For that reason, supporters should still be cautious about this being the start of the Frenchman’s Tottenham career. However, it was difficult not to be impressed by his performance at the weekend. He scored the equaliser against Newcastle and took the chance well. On another day, he could have scored more than once.
Since being brought into the starting eleven, Ndombele’s performances have been mixed. His goal in the Carabao Cup was a reminder of his quality, but the matches against Chelsea and Arsenal passed him by Sunday felt like a big performance in the midfielder’s career, as he completed 90 minutes for the first time this season in the Premier League. There was an argument to be made that he was the standout performer on the pitch. Sky awarded their man of the match award jointly to Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilon, but that was for their actions in relation to the medical emergency.
On the pitch, Ndombele was the most impressive player. It is worth mentioning that Newcastle’s defensive structure was poor, but Spurs’ Frenchman took advantage of that. He was taking up dangerous positions and showing a work rate that has eluded him for long periods of his Tottenham career.
His awareness for his goal was very good, as he dropped into a vacant zone on the edge of the area. Ndombele had enough time to pick his spot and place it past Karl Darlow. It would have been easy to rush and waste the opportunity, but he displayed excellent composure. The goal showed that he can be effective in a more advanced midfield role.
Ndombele could easily have scored more than one, as he had five attempts on goal. There has been a reliance on Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. The attacking intent of the French midfielder suggested that he could be very comfortable in a more advanced role. When he was signed by Tottenham, his versatility was spoken up and he showed on Sunday that he can thrive in the attacking third.
It wasn’t only his goal threat that caught the eye, as Ndombele completed 92% of his passes. He didn’t create a chance, but he was tidy in possession and showed good composure with the ball. Considering he was operating in advanced areas, his ball retention caught the eye.
There was also an impressive work rate and a willingness to press. Ndombele completed all four of his attempted tackles and ensured that Newcastle couldn’t build from the back. This will have caught the eye of Nuno and impressed him more than the attacking output.
Supporters will be cautious about this performance, as Newcastle lacked structure in midfield. It was an easy environment to catch the eye, but Ndombele was easily the most impressive of the Tottenham attackers. It was a platform to build from and for the time being, he deserves to keep his place in the starting eleven.
Ask yourself what would be a better setup
1) Kane playing number 9, stop dropping deep and just focus on goals only, with Ndombele/Lo Celso/Dele playing number 10 behind Kane
2) Kane playing a number 10 role, where he is free to roam and drop deep, and buy a proper out-and-out number 9 striker like Icardi to play infront of Kane.
Personally I think option 2 holds a much better future for Spurs. Kane’s ability to see a pass and execute it perfectly, is 2nd to none. He can score from anywhere, and arrive late in the box instead of being man marked for 90 minutes. A good number 9 + Son and Lucas would thrive if Kane was always in that number 10 role.