Michael Dawson has revealed a problem that was noticed during Tottenham’s defeat to Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi final on Wednesday.
After a poor first half performance from the Lilywhites, the Blues were 2-0 up at the break. Although there was a slight improvement in the second half, it wasn’t enough for Spurs to have much of an impact.
With just 36% possession and five shots – just two of which were on target – the second leg will require Antonio Conte’s side to make a massive step up if they want to stand any chance of progressing to the final.
Conte made two changes to the side that got a late winning goal against Watford, as Japhet Tanganga was brought in for Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilon was replaced with Matt Doherty.
Some have questioned the lack of leaders in the Spurs squad over the years, but this is something Ben Davies doesn’t believe is a problem at the club.
“Personally I think there are [leaders] and I feel like it’s a criticism that can be thrown at a team if you don’t win something,” he said in an interview with The Athletic.
“We’ve got big characters in the team. We’ve got people who are not afraid to say how they think to each other’s face.”
Under Conte, with Hugo Lloris as captain in goal, Davies and Dier in the back line, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane up front, it would seem there are a number of senior players who can act as leaders on the field. However, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, the Lilywhites looked unorganised and communication was poor.
This is something former Spurs defender Dawson pointed out when he spoke about the second goal the home side scored, which was an own goal after a header from Japhet Tanganga rebounded off Davies and into the back of Lloris’ net.
“[Ashley Cole] said control it, never in a million years would I have controlled it,” Dawson said in his analysis of the game on Sky. “The communication from Hugo Loris, can he tell him?
“I think Ben Davies is really unfortunate. I know [Andy] Hinchcliffe in commentary said he would have headed it out for a corner but my first thought wouldn’t have been that. It is in hindsight because it’s in the back of the net.
“Davies has been punished and Tanganga, it’s just unfortunate. But, the communication from the team was bad and a disastrous goal.”
The goal summed up large parts of the match for Tottenham as, although it was an unlucky situation to concede in, more could have been done in the build up to it. If the team communicated and were more organised, it may have been avoided.
Hojbjerg is considered to be amongst the leaders on the pitch, and his former teammate Angus Gunn praised this quality of the Dane’s back in 2019.
“He is a great leader. If I didn’t know how old he was, I definitely wouldn’t say he is 23-years-old,” Gunn explained.
“He is one of the older heads in the dressing room if you like and, obviously, he has been around the block.”
However, in the London derby on Wednesday, the now 26-year-old looked almost lost in a position he has thrived in a number of games so far this season. In some more recent matches he just hasn’t been up to the standard fans have previously seen.
With Dier also missing from the matchday squad, it was an absence of two leaders on the field, which seemed to have a major impact on the Tottenham performance.
The 27-year-old not being in the Spurs back line was clear and shows the impact the defender has on a Conte side.
The reason this may have been an unexpected problem is because, since the Italian made the move to N17, performances such as the one in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool have shown more energy, organisation and good communication than at the start of the season but these things were all missing against Chelsea.
Lloris has been one of Tottenham’s few consistent players over the last year or so and the skipper spoke after the game about the performance and what went wrong.
“In the first half, the image of the lack of aggressiveness that we had but in the second half we showed a good face, a lot of commitment form the players, we took risks,” Lloris said in his post match interview with Tottenham.
“When you play two legs, the most important is that at the end of the first leg there is still a chance to go through.
“We have to believe because in football anything can happen because with energy, with belief and with help of a crowd, hopefully we will live a good night.”
Lloris spoke about the disappointment and regret from the performance and how Spurs’ lack of aggression led to the two goals. He also commented on the fact Tottenham didn’t concede a third goal but also couldn’t score a goal, which would’ve given them that extra belief going into the second leg.
“We know that in football you can change the result very quickly with good energy, with a bit of luck, with a good discipline but we have time,” Lloris said.
“It’s not over, this is the message. We will need all of the fans behind us and we will have to play an amazing game to turn the qualification in our side.”