Naughton/Sigurdsson have key roles against Cardiff

Match day has arrived again so out with the Spurs mug for my morning cuppa and thoughts about today's game, which is one of those awkward ones.

New look Spurs (not just because they will be wearing the new 3rd kit) are playing the same way we did last term, efficient. We have added quality and a proven goalscorer to try and make us ruthlessly efficient.

Cardiff City vs SpursCardiff City, newly promoted, boosted by a home victory against Manchester City will be up for another big team game. That makes any side dangerous so today is not a game to be complacent. It will require another efficient performance.

They will set up similar to us and operate in a similar way. They try to shield the back four intercepting the ball before it arrives at the attacker just the same as we do. They take long range shots the same as we do.

They like to attack down the flanks, just as we do, and all their four goals have come from their right hand side following crosses or corners. They tend to play long balls (more than any other side in the Premier League so far 15.4%) so long balls either to the front man or diagonally out wide sound like the order of the day.

Our left-back is therefore an important position as is the wing forward for us. It is their duty between them to attack and defend the area between the edge of the penalty area and the sideline. My guess is these two will be Naughton and Sigurdsson.

The weak areas in our system are in front of our two full-backs and as they set up similar that's a weak area for them as well. Against Norwich we controlled the game because we controlled possession and because our advanced full-backs kept their wide men defending rather than attacking. I'm expecting similar today, although not quite so dominant being away from home.

Naughton, if you remember the away game against Inter for instance, loves to get forward but as he showed in that game has a tendency to jog back, whilst Walker sprints back. That would be an area of concern if he continued in similar vein and looking at where we have made our tackles this season, it would mess with our defensive system if he did.

Looking at where we make our tackles a pattern is emerging, it was the same in both the Tromso and Norwich games, I have to admit I've not been back and looked at the Crystal Palace, Swansea or Arsenal games yet but a similar story would not surprise me.

When defending as a team in a 4-3-3 system you do one of two things, you either push them inside where you have a numerical advantage or you push then to the side where the side line restricts where they can go with the ball and you can 'hound' the opposition in a smaller pack. Against Norwich and Tromso we had the latter approach (many thanks to squawka.com for the graphic).

Spurs tackles
Tottenham tackles won vs Tromso
The first point to note is that of the 12 successful turnovers 5 were in the opposition half, against Norwich 6 out of 11 were so firstly we try, with the full-backs advanced, to win the ball back as high as we can up the field.

Secondly you'll not virtually all of them are in the left half of the field and against Norwich they were also well to the left. So it looks as if having failed to win the ball back up field we try to push the opposition the our left and tackle them between 30 yards from goal and the half way line in the mid third of the field.

To do that we need Naughton behind the ball and Sigurdsson, along with Eriksen and Paulinho or Sandro ( possibly Paulinho if taking Dembele's link midfield role today as I expect). Soldado has his bit to do marking as well for ideally Sandro but more likely Paulinho making the eventual tackle.

This general look at the game seems to have morphed into another tactical analysis! To get back on point Naughton may have to curtail his adventurous spirit a little.

Of course we could move Vertonghen there and play Chiriches at centre-back, don't think we'd put him at left-back. Vertonghen would attack less (he didn't overlap mush when moved to left-back against Tromso) and provide a stronger defensive left side unit. I'm not sure that we'll throw Chiriches straight into an away game without having given him a little cameo appearance first though.

The expected 4-3-3 line-up for me today is:

Lloris
Walker Dawson (c) Vertonghen Naughton
Paulinho Sandro
Eriksen
Townsend Soldado Sigurdsson

I don't think Lamela will start his first game away yet, I don't think he will have had enough training sessions with the team. I think resting Townsend on Thursday was a sign of that thinking and after 2 goals I can't see Sigurdsson being dropped. He offers perhaps a little more defensively at the moment knowing the system so gets the nod.

Prediction: Townsend to take at least 7 shots with 5 missing the target! Seriously though he needs to feed Eriksen and Soldado more.

Last season we beat all 3 promoted teams home and away, let's hope we can keep that statistic going. We have scored 2 goals in 5 of our last 7 games and scored 3 of our 4 goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Fingers crossed for a positive result, now where is my Spurs mug, time for another cup of tea.


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