Gomes or Cudicini? What difference! Tottenham can’t defend set-pieces

Heurelho Gomes is waking up to a difficult Friday. “The Octopus,” who now finds himself competing with Carlo Cudicini for the Spurs number 1 jersey, is widely held accountable for his part in Shakhtar Donetsk’s first goal scored by Yevgen Seleznov.

Stan Collymore called out Gomes during his summary of the match for Channel 5 last night. Calling Gomes’ behaviour an “embarrassment,” the Brummie talking-head criticised the keeper for writhing around on the floor in the aftermath of the goal, for a non-existent foul which the keeper claimed to have suffered.

Collymore: “Heurelho Gomes has made an error of judgment and he’s tried to con everybody, and I’d personally be that strong that he’s not injured. He’s hardly been touched there and he’s gone down, and the physio’s come on with the smelling salts. He should just stand up, dust himself off. He made a mistake.”

Stan Collymore’s tongue-lashing of Gomes can be seen here.

While it is true that Gomes came and missed, what Stan is missing however is that Spurs have previous in this area. Only weeks ago Tottenham fans watched their team concede a carbon copy goal against Bolton, and on that occasion it was Cudicini, not Gomes, who was exposed by a free-kick.

The similarities between the goals are uncanny. Just like last night, Didier Zokora was the Tottenham player who gave away the foul to the opposition. And then, with the ball floated into the mixer, the Spurs defence appeared to melt into the background allowing Sebastien Puygrenier to plant a header past Cudicini, who on this occasion stayed on his line. (Watch here. For comparison, the goal last night can be seen here.)

Cudicini stayed on his line at the Reebok and was beaten. Last night Gomes tried to come off his line, but he too was beaten. In the Ukraine there were three Shakhtar players waiting to pounce, at the Reebok there were four.

Arguably, what this proves is that regardless of the choice either Gomes or Cudicini decide upon, if they are playing behind a static Tottenham defence who appear unable to cut out balls into their box and pick up free men roaming inside their area, then it would not matter if Edwin van der Sar was standing between the sticks.

Until Spurs learn how to defend set-plays as a unit, both Gomes and Cudicini will be conceding more goals.