Bournemouth vs Tottenham, FT 1-5
[Premier League, 25/10/2015]
The Harry Redknapp derby (or, in this age of corporate frontism, the Mansion Group derby) did not quite go the way that the home team would have wanted, especially seeing as they were leading within the first minute. Spurs, however, were good enough in this match to overcome their were-once-managed-by-a-man-who-spawned-a-leaning-out-of-a-window-meme rivals, continuing their theme of being quite good this season, which seems to be genuinely concerning some of their supporters. Which is a strange response to being good. Maybe they’ll get used to it.
Both teams kept their starting centre-backs on the pitch for the full game, Cook and Distin for Bournemouth, and Alderweireld and Vertonghen for Spurs.
In a match in which Boruc the Bournemouth keeper received much (well-deserved) blame, it was perhaps fitting that they started the match exploiting a piece of poor keeping themselves. A cross from the Bournemouth left went over everyone, coming to Ritchie arriving at the far post, beating Lloris overly easily at his near one.
The goalkeeping masterclass continued seven minutes later, with Cook acting as the centre-back guest speaker. The ball with Spurs on their left side, just several yards outside of the box, a through-ball was played past Cook, Harry Kane running onto it from his other side. It was a pass so obvious you could have seen it from across the Channel, and Cook’s footwork was his undoing, preventing him from getting in a position either to stop it completely or to shepherd the Hurricane away from goal. Unable to do either, it was up to Boruc to- oh. Boruc brought Kane down with his leg, giving away a penalty which was duly converted.
Cook, while not responsible for any more of the Tottenham goals, didn’t look particularly good against the quality against him. There were times when he looked to have a good awareness of what (generally Kane) was around him, but there were notable red flag moments too. In the 22nd minute the ball was on the Tottenham right, Kane lurking between the Bournemouth central defenders. Cook allowed the striker between him and Distin in an amount of space officially designated as ‘too large’, while keeping the offside line which did, in fairness, lead to an offside call being made against Kane. However, Cook could have kept the line a yard or so to his left, closer to Kane and closer to the potential source of danger in the case of some good movement by Harry or a bad linesman call.
In the lead up to Tottenham’s third goal he bizarrely chose to go to ground to block a cut-back across the ground, which wasn’t likely to happen both because there was another player jostling with the crosser and because a grounded cross would never have got through the both of them had he stayed on his feet anyway. About five minutes later, in the 34th, a pass by Lamela on the edge of the box was miscontrolled by its recipient, finding its way to Cook. He turned, looking to play it back to his keeper as (presumably) his manager would dictate, only to find that Lamela had continued his run right through that area. Forced to continue his dribble, he ran the ball into Distin, before recovering and eventually clearing it out for a throw-in, which he should have done in the first place.
Spurs’ second came, indirectly, from a free-kick, played across from the left to the centre, a shot rebounding and Dembele being quickest to it, neither Bournemouth centre-back really negatively involved in it.
A short while later, in the 20th minute, Alderweireld was pulled away from by the striker he should have been tracking as a cross came in from the Bournemouth right. He was caught slightly under the cross, though did also pull away from it, presumably due to a call by Kyle Walker, the right-back, who collected it. A similar thing happened in the 46th minute, and was fortunate to find himself recovering on the goal-line in the path of a Bournemouth shot, which he cleared.
Spurs’ third came just before the half hour, a cross coming from the left-side of the Spurs box (from the Bournemouth perspective), played passed Cook and over Distin who should have been able to head it away. Distin also didn’t seem to know where Lamela was behind him, which was unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as when Boruc parried it directly to the Spurs player for him to tap in.
Largely, the match, like the goals, did not feature the centre-backs too heavily, instead being played for the most part in the midfield.
Tottenham’s fourth goal was the best of the match, a magnificent, tantalising ball played by Eriksen from an inside left channel into the box, narrowly avoiding Distin (who could possibly have had better footwork both in anticipating the ball and in not falling over, but really it was a great pass) and onto Kane’s boot.
Spurs’ fifth came from a corner, Boruc once again parrying the ball directly to a Tottenham player. He made another spill in the 71st minute as well, which was fortunate not to fall to an opponent to make it a sixth. A minute later he dealt well with a bad backpass from Distin, bouncing up to his chest, and he made a decent save later on, not that that atoned for his mistakes. Distin, on the other hand, had a generally good game, but did look like an Everton standard centre-back who is starting to age badly rather than the Championship standard player that Cook appeared to be.
The Spurs centre-backs were largely untested during the game, particularly not having to deal with the kind of movement that a striker the quality of Kane exhibits, drifting in and around them and giving them just that little extra thing to think about. Alderweireld did look slightly less assured though, and it would be interesting to examine him in closer detail to compare his time at Southampton, where he was very well regarded, to his time at Spurs so far, where he hasn’t looked quite as good as he has been built up to be. Maybe in the next Harry Redknapp derby they’ll have more to do.