Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 AS Monaco: What did we learn?
Erik Lamela scored a first half hat-trick to put Spurs 3-0 up before half time (photo: reuters)

Spurs' fixture against Monaco on Thursday was relevant for a plethora of reasons. Not only did it signal returns of players and first starts for players, but it also revealed much about the atmosphere and positivity which has engulfed the club since Mauricio Pochettino began as manager.

First on the list of achievements is the most obvious - Spurs swept aside Monaco with ease and topped the group consequently. Monaco's performance was underwhelming to say the least, especially considering that less than a year ago they put Arsenal to the sword in the Champions League knock out stages, and Spurs took full advantage.

Far from their best, Spurs put the game to bed early with Erik Lamela taking advantage of poor goalkeeping and defending to score a hat trick in front of the White Hart Lane faithful. Spurs weren't as convincing following this, but this was understanding given the circumstances.

Encouraging yet unspectacular for Onomah

Furthermore, Josh Onomah played out 90 minutes in his first start for the club. His movement and dribbling were encouraging, although his final ball was not fantastic but this was almost certainly exacerbated by nerves. All in all he will be happy with his display and will be confident of earning a Premier League start at some point this season.

Onomah was part of a fluid front 4 which started the game. Alongside Clinton N'Jie, Erik Lamela and Heung Min Son, Spurs ran the Monaco defence ragged in the first half. The fluidity seen in the first down, let down on occasion by a lack of decisiveness, ceased during periods of the second half and it seems clear now that neither Son nor N'Jie would be able to lead the line if Harry Kane was to succumb to injury or fatigue.

Bentaleb troubled by competition for places

In central midfield Spurs have great depth. With the unexpected rise to prominence of Dele Alli, starters last term, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason will struggle to get into the team. Eric Dier picked up a knock on Thursday night and to his disappointment was withdrawn as a precautionary measure in place of the Algerian Bentaleb, who has been absent since September through injury.

Fantastic form last term had many proclaiming that Bentaleb would become a world class regista. However, a dip in form prior to picking up a series of injuries has seen Eric Dier take his place as Spurs first choice holding midfielder. Dier's fantastic form, had left Bentaleb's future in doubt. Thursday's performance didn't present a clear cut case for Bentaleb winning his place in the first team back.

Falling into old habits, Bentaleb put Spurs twice in tricky situations which could have led to goals, as a result of indecisiveness on the ball in the middle of Spurs' half. This clearly knocked his confidence and although he sprayed passes around the back with aplomb, his performance for a while seemed to be rather negative.

However, after a couple of pieces of amazing trickery his confidence looked partially restored and his passing became more positive and incisive, threading several through balls in between Monaco's defence and midfield for full backs Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier. It was far from a perfect reintroduction to the squad for Algerian, but his quality is there for all to see - if faith is kept in him he will develop and mature very quickly.

Solid night for those on the fringes

On a similar note, it was a good night for Tom Carroll, who scored his first goal for the club in a very tidy performance. His passing was precise and he exploited the space Monaco gave him in central midfield by making a number of jinking runs forward. Although far from the top of the Spurs pecking order, Carroll is very talented and it is a shame that he will struggle to break into the Spurs first team.

For new signings Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier, their prolonged introduction to football at Tottenham Hotspur continued. It was Trippier's most convincing performance to date and while Wimmer started clumsily he grew into the game and a partnership between him and Toby Alderweireld worked surprisingly well given the lack of experience they have playing together.

As a spectator at the match, the atmosphere was a bizarre yet enjoyable one. Onomah's debut was a pleasure to spectate, while the Spurs fans weren't rivalled in their singing by the muted Monaco supporters who had travelled. As a result of the almost experimental style Spurs adopted last night, great positivity was felt around the ground. This is in stark contrast to a few seasons ago before Pochettino's appontment, and he must take a lot of credit for winning over the Tottenham fans.

Monaco in freefall?

It was a very disappointing evening for Monaco. For their fans, only one victory in the group stage must be phenomenally upsetting, in addition to the selling mentality adopted by the club's owners which has seen the majority of their players who featured in the Champions League last term depart for other European clubs. Sitting sixth in the Ligue 1 behind local rivals OGC Nice, one must question the gulf in class, especially in terms of defending, between Ligue 1 and the Premier League - Monaco were carved open disturbingly easily by frankly a second string Spurs eleven.

More European nights await at the lane, but a busy festive period begins this Sunday with a home fixture against Newcastle, which of course Spurs will be desperate to win.

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