Back in September I looked at some interesting statistics that gave an insight into Spurs early season fortunes. So how have things changed?
1. Spurs have added width to their play
WhoScored.com gives a percentage for how often a team attacks down the centre, on the left and on the right. Back in September Spurs were one of three teams who used the wings the least, going down the middle 32% of the time.
In fact, right up until the disappointing goalless draw with Crystal Palace at the start of December the average was still 32%, peaking at 39% in the loss to Manchester City.
Since then Pochettino seems to have changed tack, which has coincided with an upturn in our fortunes. In the last five games, starting at Swansea, Spurs have averaged just 25%, using the wings far more. In fact these last five all feature in the top six games of the season for Spurs attacking out wide.
2. Fazio has given us an aerial presence
Another observation back in September was Tottenham’s position at the bottom of the aerial duel table. I suggested at the time, that the 6′ 5” Fazio might help.
The Argentine defender had since become a regular in a much improved defence. In the meantime, as far as aerial duels are concerned, Spurs have moved up to equal 15th and Fazio has averaged an incredible 5.5 headers won per game – second in the entire league only to Peter Crouch (5.6).
3. Spurs are upping the pressure on their opponents.
It was clear in September that Spurs were trying to put pressure on their opponents – although it’s debatable how successful they were – riding high in the tackles, interceptions and fouls tables.
If anything this has increased. We have moved from sixth in the league for tackles to an impressive second – interestingly it is Pochettino’s former charges, Southampton, who are top.
Tottenham also feature fourth for interceptions and equal third for fouls. Nobody gets an easy ride any longer.
4. The key players have changed
Back in September, Erik Lamela was flying high, second only to Eden Hazard for successful dribbles, in addition to being the most fouled player in the division. He has since dropped back.
Capoue was a regular and featured in the top five passers in the league. Now he has disappeared from the team.
In their place, other players have come to the fore – Bentaleb, Chadli, Eriksen and most of all Harry Kane.
After Capoue’s supposed falling out with Pochettino, Bentaleb has become our main passer, averaging 57.7 per game, close to Capoue’s 63.1. The young midfielder is more dynamic than his predecessor, which fits Pochettino’s game plan. He will be a big miss while on AFCON duty with Algeria.
Chadli, Kane and Eriksen have all played a big part in the resurgence of the Spurs attack, with an impressive 7 goals each for the season.
5. Pochettino focuses even more on youth
I mentioned how young the team was back in September. Since then Mason (23), Bentaleb (20) and Kane (21) have all become regulars in the side. The average age of the eleven players who started against Chelsea on New Year’s day was 24.
It’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan.
Has the extra width helped Spurs? Is the emphasis on youth a good thing? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.