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Tottenham Hotspur may have sealed a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace but their performance was uninspired and dull. It almost seemed like the players were too tired, which only made them more ineffective on the field. They have truly endured a gruelling schedule so far and have come out on top. But, are Spurs on the verge of a physical and mental exhaustion?
Let’s face it – had Palace taken their chances, Tottenham might even have lost. Such a slump did seem inevitable after their emphatic 3-1 win against Real Madrid. In fact, more than physical exhaustion, Mauricio Pochettino’s men seemed mentally fatigued.
Against Real Madrid, Spurs started off a bit nervously but then they were on top, and seemed happy to chase down lost causes and outplay one of the best teams in the World. It takes time to recover from that amount of concentrated effort and one cannot expect players to just talk themselves into reproducing it at will, regardless of how professional they are. Against Palace, they had the right spirit but they seemed weak.
While it’s helpful to take the positives from the Palace game, Pochettino should be concerned about certain weak parts of his team. On the day, only Eric Dier and Paulo Gazzaniga played anywhere near to their potential, Danny Rose showed signs of returning to form.
Besides those three, Serge Aurier proved to be quite unreliable at the back. On several occasions, he passed the ball straight to the opposition, putting the Spurs defence under immense pressure. Even in his other performances, he’s often ended up spoiling what would otherwise have been a solid game, with careless lapses of concentration. So far, his mistakes haven’t cost Spurs, but Pochettino can’t let him continue like this.
Then, of course, there’s the pressure to prove to the world that Tottenham are not the ‘Harry Kane team’, as Pep Guardiola put it. However, it is a fact – whenever Kane plays well, Spurs tend to go into overdrive. Things happen the way they are supposed to and everybody plays with a sense of purpose. But when Kane is struggling, the rest of the side seem to lack rhythm. Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko were extremely sloppy, while Fernando Llorente seems like a shadow of his former self.
The international break will provide them with a good opportunity to hopefully recuperate and rejuvenate themselves since Tottenham have a crunch game against Arsenal at the Emirates after the break.