Zaha & Eze Threat Poses Different Test In Aurier’s Recent Improvement - 9jaflaver

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Zaha & Eze Threat Poses Different Test In Aurier’s Recent Improvement

The right-back’s performances of late have been extolled, but facing Crystal Palace’s dynamic duo may well be the litmus test for Spurs defender

If anyone had offered Jose Mourinho seven points from nine before Tottenham Hotspur played Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal last week, the Portuguese manager will surely have taken it.

Their overall performance before the aforementioned fixtures in gameweek eight’s encounter at West Bromwich Albion didn’t win many admirers, largely due to its humdrum nature. Away at the Hawthorns, the Lilywhites were laboured in possession and struggled to penetrate an Albion side that defended extremely deep.

Eventually, Harry Kane took advantage of Sam Johnstone’s error of judgement in the 88th minute to seal a victory for Mourinho’s men.

Going into the final international break of 2020, observers noted that Mourinho’s team would come unstuck with City, the Blues and the North London Derby to come going into a busy festive schedule. Three fixtures down the line, however, and those predictions have been swatted. Rather than falter, the Portuguese has instead enhanced his side’s tag as Premier League title contenders.

Key to that run of three solid results has been Serge Aurier, whose run in the side could be ascribed to Matt Doherty’s positive coronavirus test whilst on international duty. Doherty had been Mourinho’s preferred choice in league games (the Irishman assisted Kane’s goal vs West Bromwich) but the Ivory Coast captain had to be utilised vs Guardiola’s side. It’s safe to say that he’s been magnificent since.

The right-back’s impressive showings against the Cityzens and Frank Lampard’s men were reviewed before last week’s meeting with Arsenal; a game Spurs won 2-0.

Previewed today’s North London Derby highlighting how Aurier’s performances have typified Tottenham’s status as Premier Legue contenders. #TOTARS— Seye Omidiora (@theReal_SeyE) December 6, 2020

Aurier made a stunning 17 recoveries — eight higher than next-best Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg — had a combined six tackles and interceptions which was a game-high and started the sweeping counter through which Spurs doubled their advantage vs Mikel Arteta’s troubled side.

There’s an odd tendency to diminish Spurs’ approach in those games; and while the majority of observers weren’t pleased with their modus operandi, they often mistake easy-on-the-eye football for playing well: i.e, following the manager’s instruction to perfection to achieve the desired result.

As such, there’ll be a keen eye on their tactics away at Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

Given the Lilywhites travel to Anfield to face Liverpool three days after playing the Eagles — a game Mourinho is likely to approach with caution — there may be the temptation to give Aurier a day off at Selhurst Park.

However, based on the evidence of how the two-time Champions League winner has rotated his right-backs this season, the West African will probably go up against compatriot, Wilfried Zaha, and Anglo-Nigerian, Eberechi Eze.

The pair were in devastating form last week at The Albion, with the 28-year-old hitting a brace and the youngster breathtaking as Roy Hodgson’s men hit the Albion for five to claim a 5-1 success. In truth, it’ll be remiss to mention the eventual result without highlighting how Matheus Pereira’s 34th-minute red card totally changed the game at the Hawthorns.

Slaven Bilic’s team were, in fact, the dominant side before the mercurial Brazilian was dismissed, and the score at full-time may have been different under different circumstances.

Still, it was pleasing to see Hodgson let his side express themselves against 10 men, even though there’s a general frustration with the experienced manager’s tendency to incessantly pull up the handbrakes.

Piece on @GoalAfrica: Ebere Eze, Zaha & Ayew rose to the occasion against Leeds to banish a depressing showing vs Brighton in October.

So, will Hodgson build on the Eagles’ latest win or play it safe yet again?— Seye Omidiora (@theReal_SeyE) November 11, 2020

This somewhat exasperating nature, particularly with the presence of someone with Eze’s talent and Zaha’s talismanic presence, was questioned by Goal after the Eagles’ beat Leeds United 4-1 in early November; a game that demonstrated the attacking potential of the Glaziers.

The former Queens Park Rangers youngster was arguably Palace’s best player in that thrashing of the Baggies, despite registering only one assist, but he mostly looked better than his more experienced teammate on the day.

Palace’s left flank — boosted by the marauding Patrick van Aanholt from left-back — is, by and large, their stronger side and it’s hard to argue this fact with the presence of Eze — one of the most accomplished dribblers in the league and Zaha — who yearns to be isolated with an opposition defender.

While the former Manchester United attacker’s position has been tweaked slightly of late, he often drifts to both flanks with a bias for the inside-left channel apparent.

This leads to impressive combination play with the summer acquisition from QPR, who ranks seventh for successful dribbles per game from players with a significant number of appearances this season.

The Eagles’ expressiveness is expected to be curbed on Sunday as Hodgson will theoretically try to do to Spurs what Mourinho has done to restrain top opposition in the last few weeks.

Whether the club from South London can totally replicate this general approach is up in the air, but the likelihood of the North London side being less guarded than they were in their last three games poses different questions for Aurier if he starts.

Mourinho instructed Moussa Sissoko to drop into the area between the right-sided centre-back (Toby Alderweireld or Joe Rodon) to block the space in that inside-left channel, but it remains to be seen if the Lilywhites are as structured against their cross-town rivals.Spurs are the only side to keep four successive clean sheets in the PL this season and that defensive steel, along with Aurier’s recent refinement, will face a decisively indicative test against a Palace attack boosted by recording their highest return of away goals in top flight history.

source:- goal

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