Former Premier League goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has blasted Tottenham defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for how they failed to deal with Danny Ings’ winner for Southampton on New Year’s Day.
Is Jan Vertonghen past his best?
Jack Stephens’ lofted pass split the two centre-halves, before Ings deftly manoeuvred the ball away from Alderweireld to slot past Paulo Gazzaniga with ease.
Debating the source of Spurs’ defensive concerns for ESPN FC, the ex-West Ham shot-stopper slammed the defending of both Belgians by disagreeing with colleague Stewart Robson’s suggestion that simply more work on the training pitch was required.
He said: “I think this is an age thing between Alderweireld and Vertonghen. Not just because of their lack of pace and because they’re getting older they’ve lost at least half a yard – and that’s telling in Alderweireld’s poor positioning for the initial ball over the top of Vertonghen.
“Even as you look at Danny Ings as he exposes Alderweireld – look at Vertonghen. He is 10 yards behind the play and makes up absolutely no ground even though Danny Ings is running across the box. He can’t get anywhere near [to Ings].
“That, for me, is a concern where you have defenders who, on the odd occasion that they get caught, can’t make up any kind of ground.”
Hislop’s analysis of the goal and subsequent criticism of Vertonghen seems fair, with the 32-year-old barely at jogging pace by the time Ings had moved clear of his defensive partner.
It may be difficult to totally pin that phase of play to their ages, especially with the duo getting the nod to start while being the only defenders at the club in their thirties.
Meanwhile, despite conceding just the once on the south coast, Spurs have leaked plenty of goals in the Premier League this season, with only neighbours Arsenal matching their tally of 30 within the division’s top half, suggesting the defensive regulars may simply have their best days behind them.
The future should indicate whether Mourinho’s influence or the ageing process is more of a concern for Spurs, though it seems the manager’s persistence suggests they are nevertheless Spurs’ best bets at the back.
Spurs fans, do Alderweireld and Vertonghen make your strongest centre-back pairing? Let us know what you think below!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience