After my Bournemouth side recently grabbed a point at Liverpool and then put in an admirable showing against Chelsea you’d think our next fixture would be something a bit easier. Instead we now face arguably our toughest test of the season – Tottenham away.
To say the North London side are in good form is an understatement. They’re rollicking along in a desperate bid to overthrow the seven point lead Chelsea possess at the top of the table, and they’re rapidly running out of games if they want to overhaul such a large gap.
So it might be a little optimistic to say we can go to White Hart Lane and win, but I think we’re capable – considering our recent form – to not roll over to the North London side in the same way that Watford did last week. And here’s how I think we can do just that…
When Tottenham take the lead it can be very difficult to take it off them. They have the best defence in the league, and even the best record when it comes to coming from behind to salvage results.
With that said, I think if there are to be goals in this weekend’s clash then Bournemouth need to score first to have any chance of going back to the south coast with a positive result. We were completely outplayed in our trip to White Hart Lane last season – I hadn’t even got into my seat before we were 1-0 down after just 43 seconds.
True, scoring first didn’t help us much last season at Dean Court when we took the lead but ended up getting smashed 5-1 – but let’s ignore that yeah?
Play Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere has surprisingly been benched in many of our recent games – something that turned out to be a canny move from Eddie Howe, as we subsequently went four matches unbeaten. The on-loan Arsenal man started against Chelsea though, and impressed in a deeper role.
Against a Spurs side that has steel but perhaps sometimes lacks spark Wilshere offers a creative element that might lead to the North London side’s undoing too. With his Arsenal connections he’ll also be motivated to drive Bournemouth toward a surprise result this weekend.
Put five across midfield
In our encounter against Spurs at home this season we competed incredibly well, largely down to – in my view – playing five across midfield. Dan Gosling and Harry Arter in particular excelled in competing against very physical opponents. We gave them little chance to breathe, and pressured them at every turn – and didn’t stop doing so until the final whistle.
It was arguably the most impressive Bournemouth performance so far this season, and if we match that – and possibly top it – we’ll have a chance against Spurs this weekend.
If we play 4-4-2 we will almost certain be destroyed however, as Wilshere and Arter do not offer nearly enough bite to compete with players like Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama. Play five across the middle and we have a far better chance to snatching a result. A lot will rely on if Dan Gosling is back to full fitness.
Pounce on any uncertainty
Spurs are in great form, but the pressure of chasing down Leicester City at the top of the table got to them last season as they fell apart in the final few games of the campaign. If any such nerves exist on Saturday we need to take full advantage – as the crowd at White Hart Lane does have a habit of impatience if things aren’t going their way on the pitch.
With our current form we can be confident that we’re capable of giving them a game if we’re at our best too.
Draw strength from Spurs’s results against the strugglers
Tottenham have won a lot of games at White Hart Lane this season – they’ve been victorious in all but two actually, and both of those non-wins were draws. They’ve also won their last eleven league fixtures at home.
If you look closer at the score-lines the North London outfit have seemed to struggle to finish off many of the lower-placed sides in the Premier League however. In fact they’ve only beaten sides like Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Burnley, Middlesbrough, and even Sunderland by one goal margins. This suggests that if you manage to stay relatively solid at the back against Mauricio Pochettino’s men you’ll always be capable of snatching a result, and this is what we have to hope for on Saturday.