Spurs defender slams slow starts after more early setbacks at West Brom

12:17 14 April 2014


Tottenham's Younes Kaboul (right) gets to the ball first ahead of West Brom's Saido Berahino

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Younes Kaboul says Tottenham must stop their habit of conceding early goals and improve their concentration at the kick-off.

Spurs went 1-0 down in the 13th second at Manchester City in November en route to a 6-0 drubbing, and Tom Rosicky struck in the 72nd second in the north London derby against Arsenal last month – which proved to be the only goal of the game.

On March 30, Kaboul scored an own goal inside 90 seconds at Anfield as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners, and history repeated itself once again at West Brom on Saturday.

The Baggies took the lead through Matej Vydra after just 28 seconds, and Chris Brunt made it 2-0 inside four minutes before Stephane Sessegnon extended the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Spurs battled back to grab a 3-3 draw but Kaboul, who captained the side, said: “We cannot start the game like we did, conceding three goals in half an hour.

“All of a sudden, in the second half, we showed another face and we could have won that game. We showed some great character at the end and I’m very pleased with that - but we cannot start games like that.

“To be honest with you, I cannot give you an explanation. It has happened a lot of times this season. Maybe it’s all about concentration.

“This time the first goal came after about 30 seconds - very quickly, it was almost game over. In the Premier League, you cannot start like that. We put everything into coming back in this game, which we did.

“Of course the manager was angry. He was very disappointed and we were agreeing with him that it’s not good enough, clearly.

“He said to us that we have to show another face in the second half and you cannot carry on like that. You have to play with your quality and that’s what we did.

“Has the number of games this season affected our concentration? Maybe, indirectly. It’s a long and tough season, but that’s not just the case for us, it’s for everyone.”

Tottenham have suffered a number of defensive injuries this season, giving them few opportunities to play with a settled rearguard, while the central midfielders have also been frequently changed – but Kaboul denies that that is an issue.

“I don’t think so, no,” he said. “Every time we play, every person is trying to do his job as best as he can. I don’t think that’s the reason.”

The centre-back also brushed aside suggestions that the ongoing uncertainty about Tim Sherwood’s future has had an effect.

“When you are on the pitch, you don’t concentrate on that stuff,” he said. “You concentrate on the game.”

The good news for Tottenham is that, having struggled to score earlier in the season, they have now netted eight goals in two games against Sunderland and West Brom – but Kaboul says the defenders must also play their part.

“We have to close up at the back because we also concede a lot,” he said. “We have scored eight goals in two games, which was unusual at the beginning of the season, and we have to carry on until the end.

“How far away are we from challenging for the top four? Honestly, I don’t know. Everyone is struggling a bit to get in there this season.

“You’ve got Everton now and you’ve got Arsenal struggling to get in there. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll try our best and push until the end of the season.”

Kaboul had a final word of praise for 21-year-old defender Zeki Fryers, who replaced Romania international Vlad Chiriches at half-time and helped to keep the Baggies at bay as Spurs fought back in the second period.

“He’s young and, when he came on, he did very well,” said Kaboul. I hope he can continue like that.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs


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