Tottenham’s European hangover and whether Bournemouth are getting the best out of Jack Wilshere feature in our talking points from Spurs 0-0 draw with the Cherries.
Spurs still feeling their night in Europe
It was always going to be the case this season, but Saturday’s encounter showed just how difficult a task Tottenham face in balancing their Champions League adventure with domestic matters.
Spurs may have managed to challenge for the title last season while playing in the Europa League, but the intensity of the Champions League, plus the additional quality in a tricky group containing Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco and CSKA Moscow, will increase the exertions on Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Following their first two European fixtures this term, Spurs were helped by playing strugglers Sunderland and Middlesbrough immediately after. A trip to an in-form Bournemouth side was a much trickier proposition, and one which Pochettino will ultimately be relieved to have escaped with a point from.
The Spurs boss had the luxury to introduce Kyle Walker and Mousa Dembele back into his starting XI, but the Argentinean may regret not having made more changes. Why, if not for fixtures such as these, did Spurs choose to spend £30million on Moussa Sissoko?
While Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Erik Lamela and Heung-min Son rotated roles with impressive fluency, none of Spurs’ attackers threatened to great effect. The direct nature of France international Sissoko’s energy and industry would have proved useful, and could have created more space for one of the former players.
Son was particularly frustrating and was substituted just after the hour mark having had only 21 touches, 12 passes and six unsuccessful touches.
Tottenham cannot afford to not be at their best after their next Champions League fixtures, with visits to Arsenal and Manchester United awaiting directly afterwards.
Jack Wilshere’s signing represented an impressive coup for Bournemouth and the England international deserves a lot of credit for moving to the south coast. However, despite brief glimpses of his undoubted ability – and a huge sigh of relief at completing his first 90 minutes in the Premier League since September 2014 – the midfielder needs to start producing more consistently for the Cherries.
Against Tottenham, Wilshere once again produced a few neat touches, small vignettes of the class which made him arguably the most exciting English talent of his generation, but these moments were just too few and far between. In the opening 10 minutes of the match, the on-loan Arsenal man completed just one pass: the kick-off.
One lovely first-time pass put Callum Wilson through on goal midway through the first half, and with the interval approaching he also had the vision and precision to provide a cross which the striker nodded wide.
He may still be only 24 years old, and he may have been robbed of regular first-team football over the previous couple of season due to injury problems, but his ability and experience at the highest level means Eddie Howe will expect Wilshere to act as a leader in this Bournemouth side.
Instead, Wilshere allowed the match to pass him by too often, and questions must now be raised whether he is suited to the number 10 role in this side.
Of Bournemouth’s starting XI, five players had more touches than Wilshere’s 44. Only Wilson was dispossessed on more occasions and only Jordan Ibe had more unsuccessful touches.
Defensively, meanwhile, Wilshere’s only contribution was a single foul. And while Wilson pressed and harried Tottenham’s back four, he was often left to do so on his own.
Howe needs to work out how to get the best out of his best player, which may involve moving him deeper into midfield. Both Bournemouth and England need to see Jack The Lad mature into a responsible adult.