Bournemouth 0-2 Tottenham: James Maddison and Dejan Kulusevski guide Spurs to emphatic away victory as Ange Postecoglou continues his strong start in charge
- England star James Maddison opened the scoring with his first Tottenham goal
- Dejan Kulusevski added a second to deflate Bournemouth’s comeback hopes
- Ange Postecoglou watched on as his side recorded back-to-back victories
As this game entered its final 10 minutes, Son Heung-Min turned to those fans who made the trip south and attempted to orchestrate a little extra noise. It wasn’t a tricky request – there’s more to shout about at Tottenham now than there has been in a good while.
These are very early days, of course. And there are significant holes that require filling, which is most apparent in the cavernous space left by Harry Kane and the difficulties Richarlison is experiencing in his spot.
But those issues take on less urgency and weight when a team is winning and more so when it is winning well.
For some managers who passed through this club of late, there are few lines of distinction to be found there, and naturally that is a matter of taste, but Spurs have always aspired to style and it would seem they have rediscovered a little of the fun stuff under Ange Postecoglou.
This wasn’t quite the exhibition of swagger they offered against Manchester United, just as it wasn’t the sort of win that carries the same boom – United are United and, respectfully, Bournemouth are Bournemouth.
James Maddison opened his Tottenham account with the game’s opening goal in the 17th minute
Maddison put Spurs in control of proceedings on the south coast against Bournemouth
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Neto 6.5; Aarons 6, Zabarnyi 7, Kelly 5, Kerkez 5.5; Christie 6 (Traore 59, 6), Rothwell 6 (Cook 46, 6.5); Semenyo 7 (Brooks 73, 6), Billing 7 (Moore 86), Kluivert 6 (Anthony 59, 6); Solanke 6
Subs not used: Radu, Mepham, Hill, Senesi
Manager: Andoni Iraola 6
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Vicario 6.5; Porro 6.5, Romero 6.5, Van de Ven 7, Udogie 7.5; Sarr 7.5 (Perisic 59, 6), Bissouma 7.5 (Lo Celso 74, 6); Kulusevski 6.5, Maddison 8 (Skipp 74, 6), Son 6.5; Richarlison 5 (Hojbjerg 59, 6.5)
Subs not used: Forster, Sanchez, Emerson, Solomon, Davies
Booked: Bissouma, Richarlison, Perisic
Manager: Ange Postecoglou 7.5
Referee: Tim Robinson 7
But it was impressive, both for the sustained creativity of the first half, which they led through James Maddison, and then in the resilience they showed in the second before Dejan Kulusevski made it all safe. Those are different kinds of skills, the sort that demonstrate if a squad has the gears for different challenges, and on the basis of limited evidence it would seem there are promising dimensions to what Postecoglou is building.
So far it is best expressed in the forward motions and it ought to be said that in Maddison, Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr he is coordinating one of the most watchable midfield units in the division.
All three were excellent, just as they were against United, and that particularly applies to Maddison, whose £40million price tag is ageing better by the game.
If there are concerns, and to judge from the various huffs and puffs from Postecoglou on the touchline there were a few, they mostly orientate on the tip of the spear. Once more Richarlison was substituted early and once more it was because he looks a little lost as a lone striker.
A botched one-on-one in the first half served to highlight his difficulties, which seem to extend to a shortage of confidence as well as positional and technical uncertainties in the role.
In time, that will take on greater importance, but for now Spurs are floating after taking seven points from nine, six more than Bournemouth, who are better than their numbers might suggest.
Had they taken chances at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, the outcome might well have altered, but the tale of this match might best be shown by a statistic – playing away from, Spurs created 17 chances and almost 60 per cent of the possession. They were good value for the win.
For Postecoglou, it was achieved with the same starting 11 that defeated Manchester United, which was both logical and something of a relief after Maddison was spotted leaving the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a protective boot on his right foot a week ago.
Dejan Kulusevski (white top) added a second goal as Tottenham wrapped up victory on the south coast
Spurs striker Richarlison endured a frustrating afternoon and was later subbed off
Andoni Iraola watched his Bournemouth slide slump to defeat in front of a home crowd
With his fitness established, he was the maestro of Tottenham’s attack here, not only for the goal that put Spurs ahead, but also the function he performed in the machine.
With the new regime wanting speed, urgency, dynamism, he was all of those qualities, on the counter and from standing starts.
Indeed, it could be said his messiest contribution in the first half was his finish for the goal, which was a better showcase for the other key cogs, especially Sarr, whose threading of a pass between Illia Zabarnyi and Lloyd Kelly was superb. From there, Maddison was rewarded for a clever run behind the line, even if there was the whiff of a scuff in the brushed shot across Neto.
In some ways, the goal was typical of what Postecoglou is building. There was patience in its creation, with Bissouma rotating passes between Pedro Porro and Sarr, before that sudden injection of speed when Sarr escalated the move into an unstoppable threat. Playing like that, springing from sedate to deadly, Spurs are a delight to watch.
Antonie Semenyo was his side’s best outlet of attack but couldn’t inspire them to a comeback
Not that it was always easy – Bournemouth didn’t create much until the final stages of the half, but they pressed high and hard, which is Andoni Iraola’s style, and often it would work – in the first minute or two they squeezed Tottenham into a moment of discomfort and the concession of a corner. Of course, the downside is when holes appear in the blanket and that is what happened, leaving them exposed for nippy counters by Bissouma and Maddison.
Those are the scenarios where Maddison comes into his own and the opening stages here were an exhibition of those surges and acts of creativity that made his name. The case in point was the chance he created for Richarlison at 1-0, when he launched into a 40-yard sprint on the break and cut inside Max Aarons before spying the corresponding run of Tottenham’s lone striker.
Ange Postecoglou recorded his second victory and back-to-back win as Tottenham head coach
Spurs captain Son Heung-min was a creative outlet in attack for Tottenham against Bournemouth
A pass was steered between Kelly and Milos Kerkez, but Richarlison got himself in a muddle off too many touches and not enough clarity of thought.
Spurs had a shout for a penalty in that move – Kelly appeared to handle when Richarlison was working his way beyond him – but the greater takeaway concerned the Brazilian. Replacing Harry Kane is nigh on impossible, but Richarlison is looking far from natural in his answer to the brief.
Without a second goal for Postecoglou’s side, Bournemouth had a door to push at, and twice they had good chances late in the first period, with Ryan Christie drawing a save from Guglielmo Viacario, before Philip Billing a fraction wide in stoppage time.
Their threat extended to the second half, necessitating Postecoglou’s call to replace Richarlison with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but soon it was 2-0. Destiny Udogie was the central component of the attack, as it was his advance up the left that sucked in Bournemouth’s backline, and he capitalised by playing a one-two with Son Heung-Min, before finding Kulusevski at the near post. His finish effectively killed the contest.
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