Tottenham lack quality, but not effort, in alarming omen for Ange Postecoglou

Problems to solve: Ange Postecoglou (REUTERS)
Problems to solve: Ange Postecoglou (REUTERS)

It could be a long couple of months ahead for Tottenham.

A 2-1 defeat to Wolves, who scored both goals in stoppage time, was a disastrous finish to a nightmare week for Spurs and suggests they will struggle to maintain their fine start and implement Ange Postecoglou's gameplan while James Maddison, Micky van de Ven and others are missing.

Substitute Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina ghosted into the box to finish from close range, and give Spurs what they deserved for a sloppy and passive display after Brennan Johnson's third-minute goal.

It was a performance more in keeping with Antonio Conte's back-foot side.

Brennan Johnson stepped up and will need to continue to do so (AP)
Brennan Johnson stepped up and will need to continue to do so (AP)

Spurs were missing five players from the squad for Monday's 4-1 defeat to Chelsea, which increasingly feels like it could be a sliding doors moment for their season.

Without centre-backs Van de Ven and Cristian Romero, who served the first of a three-match ban, in came Eric Dier and Ben Davies, while Emerson Royal deputised for Destiny Udogie, also suspended, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg replaced Maddison.

Richarlison, too, was missing from the bench following surgery on a groin problem.

It took just two minutes 15 seconds to suggest Spurs would not allow the fallout from Monday night to completely upend their season, Johnson converting Pedro Porro's cross at the near post before Wolves had managed a meaningful kick.

Thereafter, however, Spurs were second best, and far too unassertive.

Towards the end of the first half, when Molineux briefly fell silent, Postecoglou could clearly be heard bellowing at his players to 'get up', reflecting a sense that Spurs were sitting off Wolves in a manner that is anathema to the Australian.

Heung-min Son struggled to assert himself. (Getty Images)
Heung-min Son struggled to assert himself. (Getty Images)

In the second half, in particularly, they struggled to keep hold of the ball, with Heung-min Son offering little in the way of hold-up play and their midfielders increasingly ragged.

Only Wolves' wayward finishing and sloppiness in the final third ensured Spurs remained in control until stoppage-time.

Postecoglou is not going to change his game plan or compromise on his "non-negotiables" - pressing high, playing out from the back, attacking in numbers - and the biggest concern for the head coach is whether his fringe players are capable of executing his football.

Spurs ended the pitch with Bryan Gil and Giovani Lo Celso on the pitch, as well as Rodrigo Bentancur, who is still working his way back from a serious ACL injury, and the drop off from their starters to the fringe is alarming at the moment.

Lo Celso, who will need to step up until Maddison returns from ankle ligament damage in the new year, had a chance to win the game at 1-0, his fierce effort well-saved by Jose Sa and Wolves quickly equalised through Sarabia before Lemina sent the ground potty.

With minutes and time in the side, Spurs' squad players should improve, while Postecoglou could not fault the effort of his players, with Dier and Davies rocks at the back until Wolves' late flourish.

A tricky spell lies ahead for Spurs, though, who look set to pay the price for their lack of squad depth.