Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Toby Alderweireld has bemoaned the club's lack of a genuine holding midfielder after Stoke City recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the Premier League clash at White Hart Lane. Marko Arnautovic's penalty and Mame Biram Diouf's header gave Mark Hughes's side a share of the points after Spurs had looked set for a first win of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino's side looked to be bouncing back from the opening day loss to Manchester United, after Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli's goals but they were pegged back after the break. Alderweireld, on his home debut, conceded a penalty after a foul on Joselu before Diouf headed in Stephen Ireland's cross.
Bar his individual error, which allowed Stoke back into the game, Alderweireld has complained at a lack of protection from the Tottenham midfield. Dier, Ryan Mason and Mousa Dembele started in a three-man midfield but the trio have been criticised for their failure to assist the back four.
"You have to play better because if you don't play football anymore then they can put more pressure on you, get more guys in the box, and it's very difficult," Alderweireld told the Evening Standard. "At Southampton, Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin put good pressure so they didn't have time to put the ball in the box – it makes it easier for defenders."
Spurs boss Pochettino has already admitted that despite the signing of Clinton Njie – the fourth addition of the summer – from Lyon on a five-year deal, the club need further players between now and the end of the transfer window.
Though Alderweireld has little influence on transfers, Pochettino could yet heed his advice having not replaced any of the midfielders he has allowed to leave this summer. Benjamin Stambouli, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Lewis Holtby have all departed during the off-season and it leaves Tottenham with few options in their problem position.
Meanwhile, Alderweireld has taken full responsibility for allowing Stoke back into the game after his foul led to the spot-kick that sparked the Potters' comeback. The Belgium international hauled back Joselu inexplicably in the box, to allow Arnautovic to half the deficit and admits it was a "stupid" mistake to make.
"Last season I didn't make one mistake," the Tottenham defender added. "I want to prove myself here and so it feels bad for me to make a mistake in my first home game. I just wanted to catch the ball and if I stood behind him [Joselu] he couldn't do anything. It was stupid of me. Maybe if I didn't give the penalty away it's different."