Former Spurs footballer Garth Crooks has named Jan Vertonghen in his Premier League Team of the Week – but has not given the Belgian all the credit as he notched a late winner for Tottenham against Wolves.
Jose Mourinho saw his side go within three points of former club Chelsea ahead of their meeting next week, with Crooks putting Vertonghen’s late header down to the system deployed by his manager.
In his weekly column for BBC Sport, Crooks suggested that playing three centre-backs in a back-four was key to Spurs profiting when in possession – commending the Portuguese for guiding the side to victory with his tactics.
He said: “How inspiring of Jose Mourinho to use three central defenders and a natural full-back in a back-four, allowing Serge Aurier to do what he does best and bomb forward when Spurs have possession. This occurs without putting your team at risk.
“The Europeans, especially the Italians, have been doing this for years but to see it used so effectively in a Tottenham side away at Wolves was as interesting as it gets.
“Jan Vertonghen was the key to this formation and the man who also got the winning goal. The Belgium international produced an outstanding all-round performance. This is not a coincidence by the way – Mourinho is working this stuff out with the players at his disposal.”
Tactics may well have played a part as Spurs sneaked past their opponents this weekend, though their performance may suggest they rode their luck at times.
Spurs were comfortably out-shot by Wolves, who registered twice as many shots throughout the game, while the visitors’ passing rate was a dreary 73.1%.
That said, Spurs winning with just 41.9% of possession backs up Crooks’ theory they made the most of the time they had on the ball.
So the revolutionary nature of Mourinho’s tactics may be overplayed a little by Crooks, who seems to have included Vertonghen purely because of his game-winning goal – while the fact it came from a set-piece means it is hardly fair that his manager should take the plaudits for both his superb header and the subsequent three points.
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