Spurs look ahead to Liverpool match with new signing Janssen and Wanyama
By the standards of this particularly excitable transfer window, Tottenham’s summer captures have been markedly low key. Maurico Pochettino, understandably of a mind that dramatic changes were unnecessary given that his squad really wasn’t that far away from winning the title last year, recruited just two new players, the Dutch striker Vincent Janssen and the Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama.It was thought that Janssen would merely provide cover for Harry Kane, something the Englishman lacked in last season’s marathon exertions.
But against Crystal Palace on Saturday, Pochettino played them both up front. Jurgen Klopp, whose Liverpool side play Spurs this weekend, will watch the tape with interest.
Kane started high up the pitch, giving Spurs the impression of the sort of 4-4-2 that Liverpool struggled to contain last weekend at Burnley, but he soon dropped back to the position in which he impressed in the early days of his career, a sort of deep-lying target man capable of holding the ball up and bringing others into the game.
Janssen became the spearhead. For the first half, Joe Ledley attempted to deal with the threat. At the break, Palace boss Alan Pardew withdrew the Welshman for Yohan Cabaye, with Jason Puncheon doing his best to keep things tight in the middle.
Janssen was seen as something of a gamble in the summer, given that he had played only one season in the Eredivisie and that it’s never easy to know for sure if 27 goals in the Dutch league really means anything in the Premier League. Memories of Mateja Kezman and Alfonso Alves run deep. But Spurs have played the Dutch market well in the past, swooping for Christian Eriksen when most of Europe’s major clubs had spent four years being less than convinced of his talents.
If the evidence of Saturday’s performance is anything to go on, Janssen certainly has a chance of making a name for himself in England. He missed a golden chance in the second half, which was regrettable, but his all round play in the rest of the game was impressive. When Harry Kane took a crack from range midway through the first half, Janssen was accelerating even as the ball zipped past him, ensuring that he was first to the ball when Wayne Hennessy spilled it.
When Scott Dann was caught ahead of the play and Joel Ward moved infield to close the gap, Janssen scampered wide to make use of all the new found space. If the pass from Kane been better, the former AZ man would have been clean through.
The use of two strikers, regardless of how deep one of them sat, also gave Palace an extra problem. Janssen frequently dragged the defenders out of position to make room for Kane, most notably five minutes after the break when he managed to lure both Dann and Delaney away from his partner. It didn’t pay off this time, Kane is experiencing the same frustrating start to a campaign that he endured last year, but it will as the season progresses.
Two strikers caused issues at corners too. Janssen always sat on the near post accompanied by Dann, while Kane tended to start at the back post with Delaney and then peel off towards the penalty spot, leaving Victor Wanyama alone with Pape Souare. And how that strategy would pay off late in the game when Wanyama was able to nod home the winning goal.
This was a deserved victory for Spurs, who enjoyed the better chances against a tough, but limited attacking force in Palace. They still have the same strengths as last season in that they are smart, hard-working and positive. But with Wanyama and Janssen, they have a few new tricks too. Klopp should tread carefully. This could be another difficult afternoon for Liverpool.
Is a football writer for ESPNFC and the editor of The Set Pieces