Teams now know how to play Spurs this season, says Jan Vertonghen
By Richard Morgan & Johnny Phillips
Last Updated: 02/12/17 7:35am
Tottenham Hotspur must learn to adapt to more defensive-minded opponents who now know how to play them this season, says defender Jan Vertonghen.
Tottenham were runners-up to Chelsea in the Premier League last time out and after also securing a creditable third-place league finish in the 2015/16 campaign, teams are now paying Mauricio Pochettino's side more respect.
As a result, Spurs have found results harder to come by so far this season, with the north London club languishing down in seventh in the table ahead of their trip to Watford on Saturday afternoon.
The Belgium international, though, says he and his team-mates must find answers to these newly faced challenges.
"We have been challenging for the league the last couple of years and the result of that is teams approach you in a different way," Vertonghen told Soccer Saturday.
"They sit back more, whereas before they would try to go for the win at home. Now they just sit and wait for you to come and that is a different way of approaching a game and we should adapt to that.
"Teams tried to press you a bit more before compared to now and that is something you have to cope with. You will probably get better with it during the year and we have to find a solution to that style of play."
The injuries have also been mounting up for Spurs and no one appears to have been missed more than holding midfielder Victor Wanyama, with the Kenyan having made just two league appearances this campaign.
"Victor was immense for us last season, it was his first season with us and he was great in his partnership with Eric Dier or Mousa Dembele, or Harry Winks, or whoever played next to him," said Vertonghen.
"He is just a great player, but we have other options and we cannot stick to one or two players, we had a couple of injuries, but we must cope with that. Last season we missed so many important players as well and we dealt with it. And that is what we need to do this season."
At the back, Vertonghen has lost top performer Toby Alderweireld to injury, but gained a class act in Davinson Sanchez.
"Very good defenders in my opinion, but different," he said. "Toby is very good at anticipation and reading the line and the space behind a defence. And Davinson is very strong man to man, has a lot of pace and is strong in the air.
"I do not want to say the other one does not have that quality, and they are very good defenders in a different way."
Perhaps the only time we have seen the real Spurs this season was against Liverpool, a 4-1 win in October that had the trademarks of Pochettino's time at the club.
"That was the standard we had a White Hart Lane last year and we want that standard at Wembley," Vertonghen said. "That was a good game to refer to, it was a very good performance, just like the Madrid one. And we want to show that every week."
Overall, however, the centre-back is confident about what lies ahead for the club.
"It is a great boost that we are top of our group in the Champions League and for our confidence definitely," said Vertonghen. "We know we have beaten big teams this season and in the league we are still building on that confidence from the last couple of years.
"We feel it was so good, our team has basically been the same, so we have not lost too many players and I think that is a good sign that we still feel we can beat anyone.
"Our dressing room is very good and we know when we have to step up a level."
Listen to the full Jan Vertonghen interview on Soccer Saturday from noon on Sky Sports News