Spurs 1 Burnley 1 – the sucker punch

Another disappointing result in August, it just never seems to come together for Pochettino at this time of the year. Another last minute goal conceded, it wasn’t that long ago that Spurs were the team of 90th minute winners, supposedly a testament to our manager’s penchant for extra training sessions. This felt like a real sucker punch. Continue reading

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This weeks Premier League games in numbers

Another interesting week in the Premier League saw a rather strange performance from Burnley at West Brom. Sean Dyche’s side managed a very impressive total of 20 shots, but what was more impressive was that not one of those 20 were on target.

Opposition manager Tony Pulis, whose players recorded a measly 32% possession, continues his habit of pulling off statistically unlikely victories. Continue reading

Spurs 1 Chelsea 2 – stats encouraging but lack of wingbacks an obvious issue

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Spurs lost a tight game to continue their poor recent record at Wembley.

It wasn’t a very positive result but Pochettino’s team played reasonably well. With 68% possession and 18 shots to 9, they were certainly not outplayed and it was a game that could have gone either way.

It was interesting that both manager’s went with cautious starting lineups; both shielded the defence with three holding midfield players. This was maybe more understandable from Conte’s point of view. He was after all the away team coach and had to deal with several injuries and suspensions.

For Spurs, I would have liked to have seen Son’s pace from the start, and the inclusion of Winks to give us more passing options from deep.

Spurs certainly missed the width and pace offered by Rose and Walker, often the answer to unlocking stubborn defences last season. Wingbacks should be a priority in the short time left of the transfer window.

Kane still hasn’t scored an August Premier League goal. Here he was unlucky taking 8 shots, twice that of the next most prolific player (Morata) and going extremely close as he saw one effort come back off the post.

I’m not too worried about our form at Wembley. Losses against teams of the stature of Monaco and Chelsea are not proof of a problem. If we fail to win against Burnley on Sunday, well that would be a different story entirely.

Follow me on Twitter @ABPSpurs

 

Last week’s Premier League games analysed through expected goals

Expected Goals is a derived statistic that estimates the number of goals a team would score on average from its opportunities. It has become so widespread it now features on Match of the Day.

To help in my analysis of games I have created a very simple Expected Goals model – see here if you want to know more details. Many people have built more sophisticated models but this should still be good enough to give us a useful analysis tool.

So what can Expected Goals tell us about last week’s Premier League matches? Continue reading

Spurs Newcastle roundup – slow starters, fullbacks and Eriksen

Spurs put a tough summer break – with no signings and Danny Rose’s dalliance with the media – behind them as they cruised to victory against 10 man Newcastle.

Slow Starters

Under Mauricio Pochettino, fans have got used to slow starts to the season full of draws. His teams have tended to look lethargic and lacking in ideas in August, which has cost them dear. Not so here, although the sending off definitely made life easier.

Spurs created plenty of chances – 18 shots, 6 of which were on target.

Full Backs

With Walker gone, and Rose and Trippier injured, fullback looks like the squad’s weakness. The biggest surprise of the transfer window has been the failure to bring in a right back.

Step forward Kyle Walker-Peters – whose similarity in name to his predecessor created only slightly fewer derivative twitter jokes than Danny Rose’s google comments. The young right back had a very accomplished debut and was named Sky’s man of the match. Davies also played well, with a nice finish to seal the three points.

Newcastle clearly targeted Walker-Peters, attacking down Spurs’ right 49% of the time versus 15% down the centre and 36% down Spurs’ left. He coped admirably.

Spurs’ defence allowed only 6 shots, equal second best for the opening weekend.

Eriksen

Last season Eriksen’s form in the early part of the campaign was a real worry. He came good around Christmas to finish as one of our best performers. It was great to see him continuing his good form here. Along with Kane, he is probably the player we have the least cover for in our squad.

With the most shots (6, level with Kane), shots on target (3) and key passes (3), along with assists for both goals, Eriksen should probably have been named man of the match.

Other games

  • Most curious stat of the weekend must go to Southampton vs Swansea. Despite Southampton having a league high 29 shots and Swansea a league low 4, the game finished 0-0. The south coast sides inability to hit the target (2 on target out of 29) may help explain things.
  • Tony Pulis pulled off his usual trick, winning 1-0 against Bournemouth despite only 29% possession.
  • Despite losing, Chelsea out-shot Burnley 19-10. Perhaps rumours of their demise are a little premature.
  • In the battle of two interesting managers new to the Premier League, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace were 1st and 2nd for tackle numbers for the whole division (28 and 24 respectively). Sounds intense.

Follow me on Twitter at @ABPSpurs

 

Why has it taken so long for Spurs attack to hit their stride?

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.

  • Confidence

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.

Discuss it with me on Twitter: @ABPSpurs