Premier League Preview - Spurs v Bournemouth
It`s too late Wilshere…..you ain`t going to be able to do your Gooner mates a favour! They're Toast!
Steve Cook has informed Tottenham that he and his Bournemouth teammates will be scrupulously analysing Spurs` strengths and weaknesses. Speaking to Bournemouth`s official website, defender Cook revealed he thrives on playing against the Premier League`s top sides after going up against Chelsea on Saturday. Cook told fans that the Cherries will be going through ways in which they can capitalise on Spurs weaknesses. 'This is why we`re playing football,' Cook said. 'To play against these top-quality sides. It is tough physically and mentally but this is what we`re paid to do. The good thing is that the next game`s just around the corner and hopefully we can put this right and move back up the table. We`ll be working through Spurs` strengths and weaknesses next week but before that we`ll recover after playing against a very tough side.'
Spurs have found a way to win well without Kane but Kane`s first injury is being highlighted as to the reason why we are playing catch up with Chelski. Harry says; 'When you look at the eight league games I`ve missed this season due to injury, we`ve won five and drawn three. So we`re still scoring goals and still winning games, which shows the strength in our squad.' Actually, when Harry suffered ligament damage against Sunderland in September we won our next two league games and then we drew four times in a row, against West Brom, Bournemouth, Leicester City and Arsenal, scoring once from open play. Kane was a sub in the NLD scoring an equaliser from the penalty spot, but he was not fully fit. That 10 game spell without Kane is regarded as ending Spurs' hopes in the League Cup and the Champions League. Alders also went missing with a nerve injury suffered at West Brom in Oct and Spurs managed just two wins in 11 games without him, losing to Monaco and Chelsea, even after Kane's return. Mousa and Rose also struggled for fitness in the autumn, missing five and seven games respectively, and Erik Lamela has not played since the end of October. By January we looked to have overcome our injuries and we were able to put out a full XI and beat Chelski. Poch stuck with the same team against West Brom in the next game and we looked to be in the groove and then Verts rolled his ankle ruling him out for the next four league games, and then Rose suffered a knee injury and in the following match, we scraped a 2-2 draw at City.
Whilst we remain consistent up front it`s at the back that is really giving us the platform to winning games. Our PL record when Alders and Verts start is W14 D3 L1 - Win Ratio of 78%. When either Alders or Vert are absent its W6 D5 L2 - Win Ratio of 46%. In the six league games without Alders late 2016, Spurs' record read as W2 D3 L1, nine points from a possible 18. Almost the gap that now exists between us and Chelski. With first-choice trio: Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen as a team we have scored 64, as a Trio 37 goals, a goal percentage of 57.81%. It was the Champions League, however, where we imploded and ultimately crashed out because Alders was on the sidelines - losing twice and drawing once in his absence. And ditto Verts, four games without Vertonghen (ankle injury) earlier this year was equally under par (W1 D2 L1).
Without our two main defenders, Poch is then forced to ditch his favoured 3-4-2-1 formation, and Spurs lost at Liverpool and then drew at Sunderland, either side of a narrow win over Boro. The sequence was another example of injuries disrupting our shape and rhythm. Chelski have not had to contend with the amount of injuries we have had. We have suffered 27 separate injuries this season, resulting in a total of 829 days missed (Lamela for 201 of those days), Chelsea have suffered just 17 injuries and a total of 396 missed days. The Blues' only significant absentees have been Kurt Zouma, injured last season, John Terry, awol for 99 days with various ailments and Cesc Fabregas, who missed over a month with a thigh strain. But none of these three feature in Antonio Conte's best XI anyway! Conte has had his preferred XI players available for 19 out of 25 league games. Thibaut Courtois, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have started every league game, while David Luiz hasn`t missed a game since re-joining from Paris Saint-Germain. Poch meanwhile, has been able to use his strongest XI players just twice this season, the Blues and West Brom, and yet, we are still second.
In total, only 17 players have started for Chelsea in the league since their 3-0 defeat at the Woolwich. A core of nine players have more or less played every match. Their lack of European football and Conte's manic attention to detail have factored in their season. Lloris, Kyle Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Rose have started just five league games together this season. Chelsea's back six Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses have started 22 league games in a row before Moses suffered a strain. N'Golo Kante has been absent once, Eden Hazard twice and Diego Costa twice through suspension and following a bust-up with Conte.
So, Bournemouth have to stop our winning run of 11 on the bounce at the Lane. We can`t be complacent, just remember that Eddie Howe`s side have taken points off Liverpool, Arsenal and Man United this season and we could only get a draw earlier this season at the Vitality Stadium back in October. As Eddie Howe said after the Chelsea game; 'I have to compliment Chelsea, they're an outstanding team and their system works very well for them. But I compliment my boys as well because they played very well. In the end Chelsea were too strong.' Steve Cook goes on to say, 'Having faced Diego Costa on Saturday and kept him largely quiet they feel sure they can do the same to Harry.' True! despite losing, Cook did keep Costa off the score sheet but Bournemouth also have to keep Son, Alli and Eriksen quiet, so I think Eddie Howe will find us as equally strong as Chelski!