Tottenham - A tactical Analysis

Spurs have scored just twice in the three Premier League games so far, both of these coming from the penalty spot. The 1-0 defeat to Arsenal higlighted the attacking problems we need to overcome.

Andre Villas-Boas played Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Andros Townsend in front of a sitting Etienne Capoue against Arsenal and the same formation against Crystal Palace and Swansea.

Our full-backs overlap whenever we attack, which leads many supporters who don't fully understand what they are watching to wrongly claim they are out of position a lot. As you will see it's part of the system we are playing. Roberto Soldado plays a lone front role. We don't want to lump long balls to a centre-forward but build through midfield on the floor, that is evident.

On Saturday we were rather slow to change the point of attack so the opposition defence are out of position and had to resort, as we too often have to, to shots from outside the area, which without Bale's 44% accuracy (Townsend 18%) are unlikely to and indeed are not going to be successful enough.

We looked like a team, understandably, who have been given a pattern and were playing it but don't really know it yet, just like if you are given an instruction at work, you perform it slowly while you learn it and as you do you become better at it and speed up. Of course we have further options, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela are creative talents to add ideas and incisiveness to the mix to come in.

From the back Hugo Lloris looks for a short pass, six from seven distributions were successful. Usually he looks for Dawson because our two full-backs push up and our centre-backs split wide level with the side line of the penalty area.

The player receiving has two options, look for Capoue/Sandro first or bring the ball out themselves and distribute a short pass forward. Do note though that part of our system is for Dawson to switch the point of attack by hitting an alternative long diagonal ball to a six foot winger (Chadli) in space. There is less room for error with a tall winger as there would be to a small player like Lennon which is why Dawson rather than Vertonghen is tasked with it and explains why Lloris looks for Dawson rather than the more technically gifted Vertonghen. The winger can then use the space, with the defence out of position, to create a dangerous situation for them. This is an example of shifting the point of attack quickly, mentioned earlier.

Capoue/Sandro will rarely stray from between the centre-backs unless it's to allow another midfielder to drop back there but even then they rarely venture forward when the ball does. The example below their working area in this situation.

Tottenham - A tactical Analysis Diagram 1

Their responsibility is to sweep in front of the back line and play short, forward passes to continue the build-up. As the ball moves forward so the full-backs follow and overlap. We then attack with seven players, both wide midfielders pinching in and one central player, Paulinho or Dembele to date, advancing next to Soldado.

Tottenham - A tactical Analysis Diagram 2

You can see from the example above both Walker and Rose are advanced, normally only one would advance but AVB's system requires both to do so together giving us seven players in attack. This serves to tie up opposition players, Arsenal here have eight players in shot, but does leave us open to quick counter attacks. Thus Capoue/Sandro are tasked with staying back so there are at least three in defence at all times, tasked with holding up any counter-attacks until assistance arrives.

Having advanced full-backs allows us to try and win back possession high up the pitch if a front man loses it as we can hunt in numbers rushing opponents into mistakes when they have few passing options.

This was the system we started last season with. In the example above notice the pinched in wingers, Townsend on the ball and Chadli. They are not always pinched in though sometimes they operate wide. Gareth Bale last season started off in this pinched in winger role and wasn't having the success he had later. He had a chat with AVB and told him he wasn't enjoying his football. AVB showed his flexibility and coaching prowess by making two adjustments to the system for him. First he pushed Bale wider and further forward, an unseen adjustment by most, then he gave him a free role to roam from that basic position. That impacted on Dempsey's attacking role leading to moans from supporters about him. We all know the affect it had on Bale's game, it turned him into the most expensive player in history.

Against Dinamo Tiblisi AVB pulled Townsend wide after 39 minutes, having a word with him on the sidelines and against Swansea he started from a wider position. The full-back, Walker in this case, then sits behind and inside waiting for Townsend to move inside so he can overlap to isolate their full-back. It also puts him in the position to play the ball in behind their full-back for the winger, Lennon and Townsend thus far, to run on to and attack the space.

Tottenham - A tactical Analysis Diagram 3

The above shot shows the attack from the previous example broken down and Arsenal counter-attacking. We have the three at the back, Capoue is filling in as required and their objective is to slow it down and allow Rose, Walker and Dembele or Paulinho to join them. Hugo Lloris has to be aware of the through ball and be prepared to come off his line if necessary. Playing this system with both full-backs advanced it is imperative that they are both quick and can sprint back. Again this is where most fans assume Walker and Rose are out of position, depending upon which side the attack is, but they are merely following the coaches tactics. Understand this point and supporters should start to see the error of their ways.

Back to the other end and Roberto Soldado received 21 passes, just 3 of those inside the area. Inside the area is where he scored all his 24 goals from last season. That statistic in itself highlights the creative problem we are having at the moment. Of those three passes he had two shots. He thrives on balls cut back from the byline but has been starved of them thus far in the first three games.

Danny Rose played 16 balls to Nacer Chadli and Walker played 13 to Andros Townsend, who wanted to come inside dribble and shoot. He was successful with 6 of his 9 dribbles. It catches the eye but unless there is a pass at the end it does nothing to create chances. For the first 80 minutes, after which we were trying to get the ball into the box as quickly as possible, Soldado received 1 cut back from 19 attempts, which resulted in a well blocked shot. Inverted wingers work when they can go outside their man as well as cutting inside, indeed Arsenal play a 4-3-3 and scored by Walcott going outside Rose, who was tucked in too much, then cutting the ball back for Giroud. They did to us what we need to do to other teams, they gave Giroud the service Soldado wants.

Tottenham - A tactical Analysis Diagram 4

The key to solving our lack of goals is more through balls into the box and more cut backs for Soldado to tuck away, to often he was isolated in attack as you can see in the example above. Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela will aid that considerably I would suggest and when all the new boys become accustomed to our system a run like last seasons may then not be far away.

Coming up soon will be post including a video on 4-3-3 to show player movement and player triangles at work. Watch this and you'll see it in our game in operation and help you see where the players are going to move, why and what pass they are looking for. Until then I hope you've enjoyed the read and have yourselves a good evening.

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