Four Things We Learnt as Spurs' inconsistent form continues against Wolves

While Spurs' form has been inconsistent of late, with this match making it two of each result now in the past six matches, the home side had recently crept back into the top four. However, stuttering performances catch up eventually and the euphoria of the previous game's last minute winner against Brighton will have been forgotten during a match where Spurs, bar the opening exchanges of the second half, never looked like winning.

Whether the issue is down to yet another combination of injuries, this time to first choice inverted full backs, or that several key players are feeling their way back to fitness and form at the same time such as James Maddison and Micky Van de Ven, the outcome is the same; the early season cohesion and verve with which Postecoglou's players went about business was in no way apparent. Add into this an opponent almost designed to exploit Spurs' frailties against low block defending and counter attacking, and perhaps the result shouldn't be a big surprise.

What will have come as a surprise to the Spurs manager will be the legginess of a side now only playing once a weak, and the indiscipline off the ball from the same players who he could rely on so heavily earlier this season. He now has a fortnight to reflect on how best to get his side firing after João Gomes' brace in each half left Spurs empty handed, with only an exceptional Dejan Kulusevski strike shortly after half time to show for the afternoon's work.

  • Ange doesn't know his best midfield

Given the lengthy absences of each of Maddison, Bentancur, Bissouma and Sarr this season, this comes as no surprise. This match say the return of the midfield that began the season so well, with Bentancur on the bench after his struggles, but at no point did the threesome manage to dictate the match.

Spurs had a huge amount of possession but very little impact with Wolves' low block proving impregnable to all but a moment of genius. Maddison spent the majority of the match playing in parts of the pitch he'd rather not be, Sarr seemed to find himself on the right wing if he wanted to see the ball and Bissouma, dispossessed and lazy with his tracking run for the winner, offered precisely no imagination when he had the opportunity to drive play forward.

Bentancur offered some degree of responsibility for pushing his side on when he entered the fray, but in reality the momentum of the match had disappeared and his impact was limited. With Crystal Palace at home up next and two weeks to prepare, Postecoglou will hope to find the improved fitness and cohesion necessary to relive the swashbuckling displays of last Autumn.

  • Gary O'Neil is a very good tactician

If that seems patronising, it shouldn't. The former Bournemouth manager was my Manager of the Season in 22/23 and I couldn't understand his dismissal on the South Coast, so it comes as no surprise that he has taken six points from the Lilywhites this season, not that in both matches it has been fully deserved. Spurs can point to a degree of misfortune in some of the poor results suffered this season, but O'Neil and his players executed their plan very well.

Spurs key players received the ball in exclusively  non threatening areas, Spurs high line was continually exposed with Vicario responsible for at least one save he had no right to make, and Spurs had no answer to the question of 'what can you do if we don't give you space'.

O'Neil will be delighted that his side used the pace of the wide players, the energy of the midfield and the discipline of the three centre backs to win every key battle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

  • Kulusevski is key

The Swede wasn't at his best, and has not been for quite a few weeks, but Spurs attack, especially with the midfield stuttering, often turned on his decisions. His exquisite dribble and goal displayed his talent superbly, and he alone managed to find ways beyond the Wolves rearguard with his trickery and drive.

However, he was guilty of frustrated attempts to exploit margins that couldn't be exploited, his passing became increasingly erratic as the game wore on and his reticence to use what we know is a very capable right foot limited his options throughout.

We must remember that this is a man yet to see his 24th birthday, with plenty of development ahead of him, but Postecoglou will need to both find more consistency from the young winger and find ways to attack teams that don't necessarily involve him.

  • Pedro Neto is destined for greatness

The Portuguese wizard has now made nine goals for the Black Country club, and this match displayed perfectly why Jeff Shi will need to be resolute this summer should he want his star man lining up in Orange next season. Neto might be contracted to the Midland outfit until 2027, but money unfortunately does talk in football and with Jorge Mendes agency Gestifute representing him, the young winger's presence at Molineux may be reaching it's twilight.

This has been Wolves operating model for a number of years, and the likelihood is that Mendes will provide O'Neil's side with another gem if Neto is to leave, but with PSR rules hanging over Wolves and the need to raise money, Neto may well have begun his farewell tour.

VAVEL Logo