Newcastle win proof Pochettino has his work cut out with Spurs defence


Tottenham won 3-1 at St James's Park this weekend, but only after conceding another terrible goal.

Tottenham's defence has been one of the worst in the league this season, and outside of the bottom three, only Spurs and their opponents on Sunday Newcastle have conceded 47 goals or more.

Mauricio Pochettino, an international defender in his playing days, was expected to shore up the back line at White Hart Lane when he took over this summer, after doing a similar job at Southampton last season. 

However, despite possessing one of the best goalkeepering duos in the league in Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm, Tottenham's game at Newcastle proved once again that there is a great deal of work to be done when it comes to improving the team's defence. 

When the two sides met at White Hart Lane in October, Spurs took a 1-0 lead into the second half, a lead that lasted just 10 seconds of the restart as Sammy Ameobi blitzed past Eric Dier and fired Newcastle level. Pochettino's side went from being comfortable in the first period to shell-shocked, and promptly lost the fixture.

There was a terrible feeling of deja vu at St James's Park on Sunday, when Spurs, again a goal up as the second half started, fell victim to another equaliser within 20 seconds of the half starting. Newcastle played the ball out wide, before Nacer Chadli was dispossessed and Remy Cabella brought the ball into the danger area, running past several Spurs players outside of the box. The ball eventually found its way to Jack Colback to fire home. 

Three or four Newcastle players were not tracked into the Spurs box, with Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen guilty of letting men go, and the entire defence failing to correctly mark up the free men.

The fact Spurs went on to win the match with a fairly comfortable 3-1 scoreline shouldn't detract from their worrying tendency to regularly ship sloppy goals against any team in the division.

The Tottenham players must have known what to expect as Sammy Ameobi once more came on at half time, and though the ball didn't go out wide to him, they ignored opportunities to blast the ball out of play or concede a foul only for the ball to fall to one of two free players in the box for Colback to net.

Pochettino has to encourage the possibility of putting the ball into the crowd as a defensive option, with far too many players prepared to try and beat their man at a point when doing so successfully is far outweighed by the risk were the opposition to win the ball.

Allowing defenders and midfielders in defensive positions to strive for attacking turnarounds is all well and good, but not in positions when losing possession again can hurt the team. On top of that, Spurs haven't been so successful at employing this to beat teams anyway, considering the number of narrow victories they've recorded this season.

With it seeming that nearly every goal conceded is as a result of some really poor defending, whatever Pochettino does in the summer, whether it's a change in defensive strategy or a change in defensive personnel, it is clear the defence is an area of major concern.

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