Vitesse v Tottenham result: Five things we learned as Spurs suffer defeat

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side succumbed to a 1-0 loss in the Europa Conference League

Dan Austin
Thursday 21 October 2021 20:40
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<p>Dane Scarlett of Tottenham Hotspur battles for possession with Riechedly Bazoer of Vitesse</p>

Dane Scarlett of Tottenham Hotspur battles for possession with Riechedly Bazoer of Vitesse

Tottenham Hotspur lost away at Vitesse Arnhem tonight in a dreadfully poor performance which will give Nuno Espirito Santo significant concerns.

The Portuguese coach left the starting eleven from the victory over Newcastle United on Sunday at home but still fielded a strong side including an array of full internationals, but Spurs were second best from start-to-finish in an immensely dull game containing very few chances or moments of quality.

The home side took victory just over ten minutes from full-time thanks to Maximilian Wittek’s well-controlled volley from the edge of the penalty area and Spurs can have no complaints after offering absolutely nothing going forward and defending erratically throughout the evening.

Nuno’s style just doesn’t seem to be suiting this squad right now and his fringe players did precious little to suggest they can be of much use in more important fixtures throughout the season.

Here’s what we learned as Spurs dropped to third in their Europa Conference League group, behind Vitesse and leaders Stade Rennais:

Spurs’ back-up players just aren’t good enough

So many players in the Tottenham side tonight are in the middle of stalled, unspectacular careers that they need to shake themselves out of fast. Unfortunately, not a single one of them did themselves any favours here.

The likes of Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Dele Alli have operated at such a consistent level of mediocrity over such a long time now that they simply cannot be considered good enough deputies at the level Spurs aim to be at. These are experienced international players who have played with some of the best in the world, and tonight they looked like wide-eyed youngsters struggling against the bigger boys.

Spurs need significant reinforcements around the fringes of the squad if they are to make any real progress in multiple competitions anytime soon.

Bryan Gil is showing glimpses worth being excited about

This was a match that saw a staggeringly low level of quality on the ball. Even especially drab games of football usually contain a decent Cruyff turn in the middle of the park, a nice through ball or two, or even just an excellently-timed tackle. There was absolutely none of that here until Wittek’s clean volley low into the far corner, but even that should probably have been saved by Pierluigi Gollini.

The only player out there who looked capable of a decent bit of technique was Bryan Gil, Spurs’ summer signing from Sevilla who hasn’t quite made the impact on the first team he would have hoped for so far. Despite sounding more like a 90s snooker player (“Brian Hill” is the correct pronunciation) than a Spanish playmaker, the 20-year-old has quick feet and a low centre of gravity which allows him to steal a yard on a man and open up some space.

Gil hit the bar from 20 yards with the only effort of note Spurs managed all night, and although his end product wasn’t really there and he faded as the match went on, there are clear signs this is a player with significant talent. He’s worth being excited about because there’s not much else fun going for Tottenham fans right now.

Dane Scarlett isn’t ready yet

It’s important to remember that, although the players that beat Newcastle United away on Sunday were left at home by Nuno Espirito Santo tonight, this was still a Tottenham side that contained ten fully-fledged first-team regulars.

The eleventh, of course, was 17-year-old Dane Scarlett in attack. The highly-rated forward was left to chase a slew of useless passes from those behind him while doing his best running the channels against a fairly solid back three for 75 minutes, and just couldn’t get into the game.

That’s not his fault, and Espirito Santo almost certainly asked far too much of a player so young and so slight against opponents of a good European standard. Scarlett needs to be allowed to grow physically before he can hold his own in attack against far more experienced, and (most crucially) far stronger, men.

Lucy Ward is one of the best co-commentators around

Former Leeds United women forward Lucy Ward has appeared regularly as part of BT’s output on its Sports Score programme covering Saturday 3pm kick-offs, but it’s as an analyst during live fixtures that she really shines and proved why again tonight.

Ward isn’t doing anything particularly elaborate or glamorous with the role, either, she is merely taking the job seriously, putting in the necessary preparation beforehand and combining that knowledge with her own wealth of experience. She demonstrated proper knowledge of individual Vitesse players and their system from the outset, and although that might sound basic at first, that is a significant improvement on the vast majority of the rotating cast who often fail to correctly pronounce names, never mind offer deep insight into them.

Vitesse Arnhem should be thrown out of the competition immediately

Centre-back Riechedly Bazoer wore the No 10 shirt for Vitesse Arnhem tonight.

Let me just repeat that: A centre-back. Wearing the No 10 shirt.

Throw them out of competition and ban them from all Uefa events for five years. Minimum.

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