Leicester defeat shows a change of tactic is needed from José Mourinho’s Tottenham

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We should probably get it out of the way early on. Sunday was not good for Tottenham.

In the 2-0 loss to Leicester they gave away two highly avoidable goals. They looked open every time the visitors fought back, and most of their possession came when the ball was three stories in the air.

With Tanguy Ndombele substituted at half-time and Giovani Lo Celso dragged out shortly after with injury, there was no creative spark. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane weren’t able to connect as often as they have in recent months, and wide-spread attackers as substitutes encountered dead ends or fumbled.

That was wrong. Very bad. Hands down the worst performance since the opening day loss to Everton, which made us wonder if the route the club had chosen was the right one.

But there should be some caveats. Sometimes it’s hard not to be instantly vilified for such a performance, but somehow it should be expected. With every 2-0 win over Manchester City or Arsenal, there may well be an occasional loss for a team that outplayed the Spurs and caught them at the right time.

On the positive side, José Mourinho has only one final Premier League game in this horrendous streak of games to negotiate, away from Wolves, before kinder matches against Fulham and Leeds, both at home.

However, it is clear that a change of touch is needed. There was no cunning or subtlety to Tottenham’s attack on Sunday, with Kane and Son looking grumpy as Leicester pressed and impressively asserted themselves at the home side.

Who does Tottenham turn to to attack dividends when those two aren’t shooting? Not many have raised their hands so far this season.

But what got Tottenham fans back with Mourinho earlier in the season were the brutal attacking displays at both Southampton and Manchester United. Games where they played without shackles and showed how quickly they can move in transition.

FBL-ESP-PR-MAN UTD-TOTTENHAM
Tottenham won 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier this season | OLI SCARFF / Getty Images

No one can deny that the strenuous effects of their match list are starting to show, but the Spurs need to show more urgency early on. They need to attack games in a more positive way rather than waiting for the moment to catch opponents with their pants down.

The ideal solution to that problem would be for Ndombele and Lo Celso to partner in central midfield, but they have had different schedules for most of the year, the former playing in the Premier League and the latter in the Europa League.

The regular inclusion of Moussa Sissoko in the XI league has been one of the reasons. The Frenchman is so, so effective in games where Spurs can happily give up possession, like wins against City and Arsenal.

Wilfred Ndidi, Moussa Sissoko and Timothy Castagne
Sissoko couldn’t help Tottenham bring down Leicester | Julian Finney / Getty Images

But it’s a different story against sides like Leicester. The visitors had their moments in possession, but the Spurs saw more of the ball after going 2-0 down. Sissoko is hardly the player to unlock a tight defense. Nor is it the fort of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg or Harry Winks.

Instead, they had to turn to safeties Kane, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura to create opportunities for Son as Leicester headed one long ball after another.

The last time Tottenham fiercely attacked a match was against West Ham. A 3-0 lead was established in no time, but the late collapse marked Mourinho. Results were later recovered, as the emphasis was on denying opponents, but this came to the detriment of attacking style.

Mourinho learned from that West Ham calamity. Now he has to do the same of a three-game streak in which Tottenham have added just one point.

It’s a dumb season and Stoke in the Carabao Cup is next, before the league clash against Wolves. Now is not the time to panic, but it will not be cause for optimism if Tottenham puts all ten outfield players behind the ball at the bet365 stadium.

For more than Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!




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