Tottenham Hotspur: Team Observations | Tactical Analysis

Tottenham Hotspur: Team Observations | Tactical Analysis

After last week’s look at Chelsea, Martin Lewis Tactically Analyses Tottenham Hotspur ahead of their game against Manchester United. Martin has included almost 30 Globall Coach images in this 3000 word article! A must read for all Spurs supporters (ensure you read all of the pages) – enjoy!

Martin starts by looking at the team dynamics.

Tottenham Hotspur Team Dynamics:

Tottenham Hotspur Offensive organisation:

*Team on a very good run of results, with confidence high and will be full motivated to do the double over Manchester United after years of going without a win against them. They will also be highly motivate to capitalise on potential dropped points from near rivals in the Chelsea vs Arsenal game.

*Team set up in a 4x2x3x1 with extremely dynamic and mobile players, including the rotation of 3 of the 4 attacking players  (Bale, Dempsey and Defoe).

*Look to play with the ball, keeping the initiative with a slow/medium tempo.

* The change in rhythm will occur when the ball is played quickly into the feet of Defoe or Dempsey (usually from Parker) then laid off, where the attitude of the team the becomes more direct and aggressive, looking to use the mobility of the attackers to quickly exploit depth.   The tempo of the team also become quicker and more direct when Sigurdsson come on for Lennon, meaning the team become very narrow, meaning be carful of Walkers and Naughtons surprise runs into the channels, but if they do it is also a time when the team is very up imbalanced numerically, leaving lots of space in between lines and a double exposure on which ever side the fullback looks to be used for width.

*They will always start their attack with a short build up from the goal keeper. The centre backs will split, one central midfielder will drop to help have numerical advantage to gain the initiative with the ball, Walker will go forward early & Naughton will stay back. * When a centre back is bring the ball out of defence (moving out of position) Sandro will drop back to cover their position, therefore both players are basically changing positions.

*The key in making their build up far less efficient is to let Dawson bring the ball out, as the further he gets out of position the more nervous he become with the ball, as he lacks the mobility needed to get back and the technical ability to keep going forward, then quickly press him just before he gets to the half way line. This will allow us to expose the, in transition down this side, as Walker will get forward early and Parker doesn’t cover Dawson’s position when he is deep in midfield with the ball.

* Their long build up comes from the centre backs, playing long diagonal balls with to the feet of the wingers (nearly always to Bale) on the touch line or over the top of the fullbacks into depth for them to run on to. * Be aware of surprise long balls out of Lloris’ hands, with Defoe running into depth and Dempsey or Bale looking to win header to flick on to depth.

* Parker looking for quick vertical passes to the strikers feet. Dembele prefers a short passing game, where he can dribble past opponents and create 1 – 2 situations. * Dembele prefers the shorter passing game, with ability to run with the ball and beat players.

* Change of positions by Bale and Lennon.  This results in long diagonals to the right, using Bales head to win 1st ball. If we win the second ball, Parker & Walker will be high up the pitch to press, leaving the team double exposed on their right hand side.

* Bale is always looking to exploit depth: with diagonal runs, 1 – 2’s or combination play with the striker. *Lennon more a pure winger and will either stay wide to provide width (allowing Walker to under lap) or come narrow to give space for Walker to run into to over lap.

*  Defoe and Dempsey look to receive the ball in between lines, coming deep to receive it at feet or look to win the second ball from the diagonal balls played to Bales head. Explosive movements of pace in the box from Defoe to follow up all shots for a second ball and will shoot at any given opportunity.

* The main threat of the attack comes from Bale, with his amazing physical and technical qualities. He will always be looking to play as direct as possible, linking up with other players to play 1 – 2’s to use his pace to exploit depth or running past players when there is space in front of him to run into, then putting a quality and powerful cross in (usually second post). He is often the reference point if the team when they play long from the back, with diagonal balls I played in front of the fullback for him to get the run on them to beat them in the air. *The mobility and finishing ability of Defoe is also a big threat, especially when the ball is flicked on into depth. *Walker and Lennon can also cause problems down the right hand side too, With walker going forward early and Lennon coming deep to create depth for either if them or Defoe to exploit down the channel.

[quote]Stat: Bale has 50 penalty area entries this season, more than any other Tottenham player, showing his directness and willingness to run in behind the centre backs.[/quote]

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Tottenham Hotspur Defensive organisation:

* Defensive shape is usually a 4x4x2, with a high line and full, aggressive pressure on the ball.  * The team has very good balance due to the compensation components in the team, such as: Naughton staying back to give Bale more of a free role, Dembele covering Bales position when he is too high up the pitch to get back, the other 2 midfielders will then all move one position over or Dempsey will drop deep, Sandro covering the centre backs position when he bring the ball out of defence or Walker not going forward as early when Parker is in place of Sandro, as he doesn’t cover the centre backs position and when Bale makes a diagonal run into depth, Naughton will be high up the field so a central midfielder will cover behind him.

* In their pressing, they will always apply a high full press, looking to win the ball high up the field. * If the ball is passed back to the goalkeeper, who ever was pressing that player will chafe down the goalkeeper. * Each player will have their own pressing zone assigned to them, but they will continue pressing a player if he then moves out of their zone, allowing another player to cover their zone.

* Lloris is a very positive, quick and and good at communicating with his defenders to organise. He is a sweeper ‘keeper, meaning he will be quick off his line and will look to cut off passes into depth in front of him. He isn’t a player that is going to come out for crosses though, especially on corners, instead he relies on his acrobatic saves and quick reflexes.  At corners the defenders will be deep and there will be a line in front of him, meaning that the best he can get on the ball will be a punch if we overload the 1st post and the area in front of him on corners.

* They will usually defend with their wingers and fullbacks high, usually becoming a 2x4x4. Dawson will drop a little (conceding depth) to give him time to read the game, as he can’t keep a high line with Vertonghen as he doesn’t have the turning speed or mobility to get back. They will still look to play offside though. Since Dawson is deep, we can attack down the channels, with quick diagonal balls, exploiting the space behind the fullbacks. We can also look to take advantage of Naughton’s poor aerial ability. Both centre asks are dominant in the air and look to mark the player in their zone, rather than one or the other picking up the striker.

* The 2 central midfielders will sit deep and the wingers will push on the join the front line to press, the 2 central midfielders will join the pressing at times, with 1 joining and one sitting just behind him to cover. This leaves a gap between the lines to expose, but one of the defenders will try and press quickly to close space. This will leave the, with either only Dawson and his lack of mobility left at the back or Dawson too high to get back, giving us the chance to kill the, with numerical superiority in transition. Both wingers have a lot of mobility to press, so be aware of quick pressure being put on you by them.

* The strikers will look to press the defenders and also try to position themselves to cut out vertical passes. Also be aware of the, chasing the goalkeeper down, so the centre backs will need to drop deep either side the give the goalkeeper more options.

[quote]Stat: Walker and Caulker both have 4 defensive errors this season, joint 4th in the Premier League.[/quote]

Tottenham Hotspur Pressing:

First a high and wide block, full press.

If they don’t win the ball, they will drop to a medium and tight block to wait for a trigger to go back to a high block full press.

When there is a trigger, such as the centre back facing goal with the ball they will press and move up to original full pres. Be aware that the players will continue their press to put pressure on the goalkeeper.

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Tottenham Hotspur Attacking transitions (what do they do in the first 10 seconds of wining the ball):

* Team look to win the ball as high up the field as possible so they can play direct into depth for a 1 on 1 if possible.

* If they win the ball deeper, quick change in attitude where Dempsey and Defoe will come deep the receive the ball to feet from the central defenders the lay off for central midfielders to find Bale (coming inside) running into depth.

* The other option when the ball is won deep is to go for early long balls into depth for Defoe or Bale.

* If the initial ball isn’t on, they will not force it, instead they will look to patiently retain possession and circulate the ball, with Parker and Dembele used as the references to organise the team to either sit deep or high.

[quote]Stat: Walker has 178 final third entries this season, far more than any other Tottenham player, which shows his early runs forward and high position on the pitch.[/quote]

Defensive transitions (what do they do in the first 10 seconds of losing the ball):

* Aggressive full press applied straight away, with the central midfielders and fullbacks very high in a 2x4x4 high block. If they don’t win it back, the will then drop into more of a tight 4x4x2 shape in a medium block.

* The players will still press if the ball is in their zone when a trigger is set, such as a poor touch or if they are not facing play.

* When the first player presses this will trigger the rest of the team to move back up to a wide 2x4x4 high block.

* When they are high pressing in a 2x4x4, there is obviously a lot of space behind the fullbacks [especially Walker] that can be exploited with wither quick diagonals or a lay off from the striker and inside movements into depth from the winger.

[quote]Stat: Parker won possession every 4.64 minuets in the game vs QPR, joint highest of the weekend.[/quote]

Next Page: Tottenham Hotspur Corner Set plays – click here or use the Quick Navigation below.

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Tottenham Hotspur Set plays:

Attacking corners:
Attacking corners will always have 1 or 2 players attacking the 1st post to flick on to 2 players arriving on the second post and one dropping off at the back post for the second ball.

Defensive corners:
Team are slow in transition from defensive corners.

Attacking frontal free kicks:

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Frontal free kicks from deep:

Dawson running from deep, flicks ball back to Defoe, Vertonghen and Dempsey attacking the space.

Defensive frontal free kicks:

Attacking free kicks from the side:

Defensive free kicks from the side:
Flat line just inside their box, with zonal marking. Defoe in the wall will jump then press if the ball is cleared.


Next Page: Tottenham Hotspur Pattern and combination play – click here or use the Quick Navigation below.

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Pattern and combination play:

Short build up

Long build up

Diagonal balls to the wings from the centre backs. Either short of fullback to head, behind fullback to run onto to a ball straight to them on the touchline.

Dynamics of left

Dynamics of right

Movements of strikers in build up play

Combinations of strikers and midfielders

Strikers movements in the box

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Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations

Tottenham Hotspur Other observations:

Not a lot of options on the bench, with no striker on the bench. This means that they can’t do much to change the system, more like for like in substitutions. They can however, change the dynamics of the team, like changing Naughton to play more offensive and higher up the field, allowing Bale to play in a more central or free role, or bringing Sigurdsson on for a central midfielder to play with 1 holding player and Sigurdsson in-between lines or to bring him on for Lennon, moving Bale to the right and using Sigurdsson on the left to come inside to allow Naughton to overlap. This will also mean that both Sigurdsson and Bale will have to be shown on the outside as when the come inside and shoot they can be deadly.

The team is going though a very good run of results and are highly motivated, but will have to get used to the different dynamic that Parker will bring to the midfield as Sandro who usually starts there got injured for the rest of the season in the last game. * They will also be highly motivated, after lifting the mental block they have had over not beating and not winning in good wining positions against Manchester United in years.

Sandro & Kaboul are out, Gallas will have a late fitness test and Adebayor is away on international duty.

Tottenham Hotspur Player observations:

[dropcap]25.[/dropcap] Lloris – left foot – Very positive sweeper ‘keeper. Good with ball at feet and extremely quick and rushing out and closing down player on ball. At corners he isn’t used to come out for crosses, instead they will have a line of 4 players in front of him. If he does come, due to the amount of players competing for the ball he is likely to only get a weak punch on the ball, meaning that if we can be aggressive and win the second ball there will be a good opportunity to score.

[dropcap]28.[/dropcap] Walker – right foot – Extremely good athletic and physically right back. Always the fullback to get forward early and has a very good and powerful shot. Can get exposed due to how high and early he gets up the field and can be kept out wide when attacking, leaving a big gap between him and the centre back.

[dropcap]20.[/dropcap] Dawson – right foot – Leader of the team, communicates and organises the defence. A defender that is brave and won’t pull out of a tackle, but lacks mobility and technical ability on the ball. Decent passer of the ball and will always go long when not under pressure. Very dominant in air in box boxes with aggressive runs to attack the ball.

[dropcap]5.[/dropcap] Vertonghen – left foot -Very goof technical defender, with a good amount of pace and ability to bring the ball out of defence. Extremely composed and calm when on the ball and in defending. Won’t rush or panic, waits for the moment to take the ball.

[dropcap]16. [/dropcap]Naughton – right foot -A right back playing left back, so expect inside moment behaviours and crosses off his right foot when he receives the ball in forward positions. He is used to support play and give defensive balance, but can be exposed as Bale doesn’t always get back, meaning that Dembele has to cover him.

[dropcap]7.[/dropcap] Lennon – right foot -Pure wing player, holds the ball narrow to create the space on the wing for Walker to run into or for him to exploit himself. Extreme mobility and acceleration over the first few yards, crosses on the byline (usually with floated crosses to the second post or low 1st post crosses) but rarely comes inside on is left foot. Always looks to take player on, with quick feet and very good control.

[dropcap]8.[/dropcap] Parker – right foot – A player with leadership, Parker looks to use his mobility to organise deep or to support play. He has very good passing ability, capable of vertical penetration, as well as a good ability to read the game to intercept passes. He also works very hard on the pitch and gives his all.

[dropcap]19.[/dropcap] Dembele – left foot – Extremely good physical attributes with good mobility. He also has excellent technical abilities and can easily beat players in 1 on 1 situations. He is also very good a reading the game and positions himself to take the ball by using his body to get in between the ball and opposition player. Also quite creative in his runs with ball and movement.

[dropcap]11.[/dropcap] Bale – left foot – Top quality player. Immense physical attributes, with amazing mobility, technical ability, crossing, finishing, free kick and heading ability. His movement off the ball into depth is also exceptional. He will always look to play direct and quick, with 1 – 2 combinations with the strikers to go down the wing or big inside movements to run into depth behind the centre backs. He is also the reference point with the diagonal balls from the centre backs and 1st post runs at corners as he gets great height on his jump to win the flick on. He often leaves the left wing position, looking to get into depth more centrally. He is also very dangerous when he receives the ball deep on the wing with lots of space behind the fullback to exploit. Important to control the space around him to limit his effect on the game as much as possible.

[dropcap]2. [/dropcap]Dempsey – right foot – Good technical player, will always come very deep to receive the ball, acting as the teams 10. Well timed runs and movements in the box, unlike Defoe’s explosive movements. Very good finisher with both feet and head, he can also link play or join Defoe as a striker.His mobility means that he can come deep, support or run into depth. Very good with both feet and will try and pick ball up deep, run at defenders and then look to play 1 – 2’s to get around defence.

[dropcap]22.[/dropcap] Sigurdsson – right foot – Very good technical player that looks to play between lines, has ability to play ball into depth or to hit incredible long shots, with precise direction, curve and power. Also very good at arriving in the box to finish off the move. He will most likely come on as a sub, either on the left coming inside or playing in the ’10’ role.

[dropcap]18.[/dropcap] Defoe – right foot – Extremely mobile poacher. Will always shoot if give the opportunity with very good finishing ability and powerful long shots. Looks to come deep to receive the ball at feet then lay off and spin into depth. He will also go wide to allow other players to move in the middle. Also capable of instinctive 1 touch finishes and quick, aggressive and explosive movements in the box.

Goals [top 5]:

  1. Defoe – 10
  2. Bale – 9
  3. Dempsey – 4
  4. Lennon – 3
  5. Caulker – 2
  6. =Adebayor – 2

Assists [top 5]:

  1. Lennon – 5
  2. Dempsey – 3
  3. =Dembele – 3
  4. =Huddlestone – 3
  5. =Sigurdsson – 3

Cards [top 5]:

  1. Bale – 4 yellow
  2. =Sandro – 4 yellow
  3. =Defoe – 4 yellow
  4. Walker – 3 yellow
  5. =Dembele – 3 yellow

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.

Tottenham Hotspur Tactical Analysis – Quick Navigation

Team Dynamics | Defensive Organisation | Attacking & Defensive Transitions 

Corner Set Plays | Free Kicks | Pattern and Combination Play | Other/Player Observations