Pochettino’s defence has been solid all season. Spurs have conceded a league low 14 goals; of the rest only Chelsea are below 20.
Going forward it’s not been as simple. Much like last season Spurs have struggled to break teams down in the early part of the campaign. And just like last time around, they’ve started to hit their stride mid-season. Spurs only scored 15 in their first 11 Premier League games, then 28 in the next 10.
So why is that?
- Injuries to key players
The most obvious answer is the effect injuries have had on the squad. Last campaign Pochettino was very lucky, with the spine of the team available most weeks. That luck couldn’t hold forever and this season has seen long layoffs to several first team regulars – most notably Kane and Alderweireld.
The defence is more about a system, so it is easier to plug in new players, the attack is more about individuals and chemistry.
- No European distractions
Our tendency to struggle in league games after midweek European trips is well documented, as is the boost teams get when they don’t have European football; see Chelsea and Liverpool this year. Our upturn in form has coincided with our exit from the Champions League. It’s not just less tiredness, it’s also the extra time on the training ground and the ability to focus.
- A loss of form for some of our best performers
Last season so many of our players had stand out seasons. The anti-climax during the run in, plus a disappointing and tiring Euro’s for our England contingent, was always likely to leave its mark. Dembele and Eriksen have been notably below par and the Dane’s resurgence has been a key factor in our recent run.
- A change of formation
Of late Pochettino has moved to three at the back and that has freed our most potent attacking threat, our fullbacks. They have provided the pace and width missing in the early part of the season, opening up space in the centre for Ali, Eriksen and Kane. Rose and Walker are possibly the best in the league, while Trippier and Davies have proved able deputies.
- The nature of our attack
By it’s very nature Pochettino’s system relies on everyone being in sync. If one or two of our players are a little off the pace or not on the same wavelength it doesn’t work. The chemistry that sees Eriksen find Ali with a subtle flick, or Ali chip the ball to an onrushing Kane, takes time to get right. It’s operates on much finer margins than the defence.
Even a casual 5-a-side player knows how important confidence is. One or two bad results and heads go down, the crowd gets restless, players take that second or two longer to make decisions, and worst of all, they take the safe option. There’s nothing like a run of wins and a happy crowd to fuel the kind of daring one touch attacking play we’ve seen of late. Long may it continue!
Why do you think Spurs have clicked? Do you think it will continue? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.